Summary: If you want to live a life that matters, sacrifice, suffer, submit and serve. These are 4 words we don't like very much, because they seem like steps down to obscurity, but in God's Kingdom they are steps up to true greatness.
The movie, Pearl Harbor, tells the story of two friends, Rafe and Danny, who survive the attack on Pearl Harbor and enter World War II as fighter pilots.
In training before the war, Rafe McCawley is one of America's top fighter pilots. When America initially holds back from entering the war, Rafe volunteers to help the British in their fight against the Germans.
When Rafe first arrives at the English airfield, he walks by British airmen (Spitfire fighters) shot up from the previous day's battle and is greeted by the commander of the British squadron (start movie clip). As the commander shows him the plane he will fly, a messenger announces to the commander that two more British planes have just been shot down.
The commander turns to Rafe and asks, “Are all Yanks as anxious as you to get themselves killed, Pilot Officer?”
Rafe does not hesitate: “I'm not anxious to die, sir,” he says. “I'm anxious to matter.” (Pearl Harbor, Touchstone Pictures, 2001, rated PG-13, written by Randall Wallace, directed by Michael Bay, 00:31:05 to 00:32:20, DVD: Track 9; www.PreachingToday.com)
I suppose that’s what most of us want with our lives. We want a life that matters. We want a life that means something. We want a life that makes a difference. The question is, “How?” How do we live a life that matters? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Mark 10, Mark 10, where Jesus shows us how.
Mark 10:32a They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. (NIV)
They were afraid, because Jesus was walking into a city where people hated Him and wanted Him dead.
Mark 10:32b-34 Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (NIV)
Jesus knew about the pain and the suffering that awaited him in Jerusalem, but He did not shrink back in fear. On the contrary, he led the way through the pain into victory. Jesus was going to Jerusalem to sacrifice Himself for us, and He invites his fearful followers to come along.
About 20 years ago, Scott Behnke, Howard’s brother, visited our church in Ellsworth. He was a Vietnam veteran, and his cousin, Ed, had invited him to try out this new church. Well, that Sunday afternoon I got a call from Scott who expressed to me, “Pastor, I believe you’re a real sky pilot.”
I didn’t know what he meant at the time, but I soon came to learn that a “sky pilot” is a military officer who not only tells his men what to do, he gets right in there and does it with them. In fact, a “sky pilot” leads the way into battle. He leads the way into the hardships of war. He leads the way through the pain into the victory ahead.