Movie fans flocked to theaters to watch the highly anticipated release of the movie "Unbroken"--the true story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympic athlete who enlisted in WWII to fight in the Pacific against the onslaught of the the Japanese. A bombardier, Louie's plane went down in the ocean where he was lost at sea, afloat on a raft for 47 days.
Nearly succumbing to dehydration, hunger, shark attacks, and storms, Louie made a deal with God to serve Him always if only He would spare his life.
Louie's life was indeed spared, but not by rescue by the US forces as he'd anticipated. Rather, he was found and "rescued" by the Imperial Navy of Japan. He was subsequently imprisoned at a string of Japanese labor camps where he suffered unbearable torture at the hands of his captors until the end of the war.
Upon his rescue and release, he was hailed as a hero. Franklin Graham recounts what followed:
For a time he enjoyed the celebrity of heroism and hob-knobbing with Hollywood. He met and married a beautiful woman named Cynthia Applewhite and life was good. But when all the glitz and glamour faded and reality set in, reoccurring nightmares of war and memories of Louie’s torture by his enemies tormented him.
To escape these horrors, Louie turned to alcohol. Pent-up anger overcame him.
His wife who genuinely loved him felt she had no choice but to divorce him. The man who had endured horrific physical and mental abuse, and emerged unbroken from the ravages of war, had succumbed to an enemy that would not let go -- himself.
In September 1949, Billy Graham was running an evangelistic crusade under a giant tent in downtown Los Angeles. Louie's wife, invited by neighbors, attended the crusade and immediately gave her life to Christ.
Her first act as a new believer was to inform Louie that she had changed her mind (and heart!) and would not divorce him.
She began earnestly inviting Louie to attend the crusade with her. Seeing the changes in his wife, he finally agreed.
Billy Graham, unaware of Zamperini's horrific experience lost at sea, and his fateful "deal" with God if He would but save his life, said these convicting words: “There’s a drowning man, a drowning woman, a drowning boy or girl lost in the sea of life.”
In that moment, Louie walked the aisle and gave his life to Christ.
When he returned home from the meeting he poured his liquor down the drain, dumped his girlie magazines in the trash, and crumpled up his cigarettes and disposed of them.
He found a Bible that had been issued by the air corps and began reading. For the first time God’s Word began to make sense to him.
This former prisoner of war had discovered the joy of freedom found in Christ and desired to pass it on to others.
Louie Zamperinis would go on to forgive even those who had held him captive, and lived the rest of his days serving the Savior who rescued his soul.
We are indeed our own worst enemies. As Franklin Graham so eloquently stated, "The man who had endured horrific physical and mental abuse, and emerged unbroken from the ravages of war, had succumbed to an enemy that would not let go -- himself."
Until we come to that place of brokenness--not just physical, emotional or psychological, but spiritual!--we cannot receive the rescue of our souls from the One Who was "broken" for us.
"Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me" (1 Corthinians 11:24, KJV).