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Adam Jobbers-Miller grew up in Wayne, New Jersey, the son of a fireman. He served as a volunteer fireman with his father before he was hired as a police officer in Fort Myers, Florida.
Jobbers-Miller was shot in the head on July 21 while responding to a report of a gunman at a gas station. He underwent surgery but died of his injuries a week later.
It takes tremendous courage to risk one’s life as a firefighter or a police officer. Jobbers-Miller did both.
In other news, the remains of Capt. Lawrence Dickson have been identified. He was the first of more than two dozen black aviators known as Tuskegee Airmen who went missing in action during World War II. Dickson was twenty-four when he went down on a mission over Austria on December 23, 1944.
Meanwhile, remains believed to be those of fifty-five American servicemen were flown out of North Korea on Friday. “These incredible American heroes will soon lay at rest on sacred American soil,” President Trump said.
A fifty-fifty chance of survival
It takes courage to do a hard thing that others will not do. If it were easy, it would already be done.
Rocket Men is Robert Kurson’s bestselling story of the Apollo 8 space mission. I was gripped by the book from start to finish. Kurson timed his narrative for the fiftieth anniversary of the first manned mission to leave Earth’s orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it, and return to Earth safely.
While I was vaguely familiar with Apollo 8 (I was ten years old at the time), I remember far better the Apollo 11 mission that placed the first man on the Moon six months later. What I didn’t realize was that, without Apollo 8, there would have been no Apollo 11. If NASA could not fly astronauts safely to and from the Moon, they obviously could not put them safely on it.
Nor did I realize the incredible courage of the three men who made the journey. Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders flew on Saturn V, the most powerful machine that had ever been built. However, it had never been tested for manned space flight.
As one NASA executive stated, “Apollo 8 has 5,600,000 parts and 1,500,000 systems, subsystems and assemblies. Even if all functioned with 99.9 percent reliability, we could expect 5,600 defects.”
Would you want to drive a car built in 1968 across the country? What about traveling to the Moon and back in a spacecraft built fifty years ago?
The three astronauts flew faster and farther than humans had ever traveled before. Then there was the matter of their return. To arrive safely on Earth, they had to fly their spacecraft into an atmospheric window so small that their challenge was compared to throwing a paper airplane into a mailbox slot from a distance of four miles.
One NASA executive estimated Apollo 8’s odds of success at fifty-fifty. Anders thought he had a one in three chance of dying.
Nonetheless, the mission was a complete success. But without the astonishing courage of the three astronauts, their wives, and the entire NASA team, Apollo 8 would never have left the Earth.
“The most persecuted religious body on the planet”
Our culture pictures Christianity as a Sunday hobby, a tranquil way to spend a few pleasant hours each week in the secure presence of like-minded friends. Our culture could not be more wrong.
When Jesus told us that a true disciple must “deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,” he was talking about a willingness to die in the cruelest, most tortured way imaginable (Luke 9:23). And he meant his words.
His apostles were crucified, beheaded, impaled by spears, stabbed to death, stoned, burned, and otherwise martyred. An estimated two million Christians died for their faith at the hands of the Roman Empire.
In The Global War on Christians, John Allen, a respected international journalist, states that “Christians today indisputably are the most persecuted religious body on the planet.” (For more, see my Respected to Irrelevant to Dangerous: Does Religion Poison Everything?)
We should not be surprised that Christianity is inherently risky. We are called to oppose Satan, the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and all the “cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). Our fallen culture opposes all who expose its darkness to the light (Ephesians 5:11).
John Stott: “Insistence on security is incompatible with the way of the cross. What daring adventures the incarnation and the atonement were! What a breach of convention and decorum that Almighty God should renounce his privileges in order to take human flesh and bear human sin! Jesus had no security except in his Father. So to follow Jesus is always to accept at least a measure of uncertainty, danger and rejection for his sake.”
How to see God’s “wonders in the deep”
But here’s the good news: the greater our courage, the greater our reward.
First, our faith deepens in unprecedented, transforming ways. A lesson we can learn only in hard places is that we can trust God in hard places. A decision we can make only in tough times is to trust God in tough times.
Second, we experience God’s power in unique ways. Charles Spurgeon: “Those who navigate little streams and shallow creeks know but little of the God of tempests; but they who ‘do business in great waters,’ these see his ‘wonders in the deep.'”
Third, our Lord uses our lives in ways that outlive us. In connection with the return of American soldiers’ remains from North Korea, a military veteran made this profound statement: “A soldier is never dead until he’s forgotten.”
If we serve Jesus with courage, we can know this: our service will never be forgotten. Your next act of obedient sacrifice will be rewarded forever (Revelation 7:13-17).
The higher the mountain, the harder the climb. What hard step of faith is your Lord asking you to take today?