In 1941 Olympic runner Louis Zamperini was well within reach of shattering
the four-minute mile mark, a feat considered impossible at the time. Then
Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States was thrown into World War Two.
Serving his country as a bombardier, Zamperini’s plane crashed into the vast
Pacific ocean, where he lived on a raft the size of a bathtub for over
forty days fighting off sharks, hunger, thirst, the elements, and the fear
he would never be found. He finally ran ashore on a Japanese-controlled
island and was captured as a prisoner of war. There he was treated far more
cruelly than the human mind can conceive (Of his capture, Louis simply
remarked, “I missed the raft”). Louis spent two years in a POW camp, being
finally liberated after Japan’s surrender. Returning to the U.S., he was no
longer the same man. His injuries were too great to ever run again, the
prisoner trauma drove him to alcoholism, and he acted like a deranged
Then everything changed.
Reluctantly willing to attend a tent revival meeting of newcoming evangelist
Billy Graham, Zamperini surrendered his life to Christ’s love. He
immediately went home and smashed his liquor bottles. He forgave his
tormenters, even making a pilgrimage to Japan, where he visited the prison
they were detained at for war crimes. Beaming, he vibrantly shook their
hands and smiled at them, regarding those two years of Hell as a critical
stepping stone for his journey to God. Louis Zamperini’s life was forever
tranformed. He had been a dead man walking, he was now a vibrant child
resting playfully in God’s arms.
Here is a picture of the power of God’s love. When gripped, it inflames the
heart against addictive struggles and showers our offenders with compassion
and no longer consuming anger. It frees us from past offensives and
liberates us to live in light-hearted trust that God is carrying us snugly
in His tender arms. Today, rest your hurts, your fears, your addictions,
and your regrets peacefully in the Power of God’s love.
“For God so loved the world…” John 3:16