May 30, 2016 • By Ed Wrather
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – 1 Timothy 6:6-12 NKJV.
In the United States today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday for remembrance of those who died while serving in the armed forces of the country. Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day begun in 1868 when the graves of the Union war dead were decorated. There was also a day for remembering the Confederate war dead from the Civil War, but these days were merged into the one that we now observe.
Today on Memorial Day is a good time to remember one of the famous battles of WWII called “the Battle of the Bulge.” Military.com has a short, but excellent article about the battle. In December 1944, the Germans had launched a counter offensive and were able to surround Bastogne, Belgium. Bastogne was being defended by the 101st Airborne Division commanded by General Anthony Clement McAuliffe. On the morning of December 22nd four Germans approached carrying a white flag carrying with them a demand for the Americans to surrender. There were two pages demanding the Americans surrender, which in part read, “To the USA Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne…There is only one possibility the honorable surrender of the encircled town.”
When General McAuliffe first briefly looked at the message from the Germans his immediate response was, “Aw, nuts!” Military.com gives this insight into how the actual official response of General McAuliffe occurred: “When he told his commanders he didn’t know what answer to send, Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard said ‘That first crack you made would be hard to beat, General.’ Everyone laughed as a sergeant typed up the succinct response: ‘To the German Commander: Nuts! The American Commander.’” The 101st Airborne was able to hold on until they received relief from Patton’s troops and weather cleared enough for air support. General McAuliffe would likely agree with Dictionary dot com’s interpretation of the word “nuts” as being an expression of “disapproval, disgust, or defiance” meaning in essence “insane, or crazy.” It might have been a temporary relief from the terrible conditions they were in to have surrendered, but that would have been “crazy!”
At times we may feel like we are surrounded spiritually. We may all express silently, if not verbally as did Peter, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Sin, whether small or great in our eyes, is a spiritual defeat; but, that does not mean that the war has been lost. However, we may “feel” like we have been surrounded by the hosts of hell and that the only thing to do is to surrender to their demands. That in a word would be as General McAuliffe uttered at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, “Nuts!” As the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy, instead of surrender, rise up and “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life!”