From John Ortberg’s If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat:
One of the most powerful 30 minutes of film I’ve ever seen is the opening sequence of the movie Saving Private Ryan. Veterans Groups say it’s maybe the most realistic picture ever given of the brutal suffering that those soldiers faced. It’s on D-Day, June 6, 1944. An unbelievable price was paid to gain just a toehold, just a few feet of Omaha Beach in Normandy. And that price was paid in blood.
At the end of D-Day, at the end of that one day, in one sense, nothing had really changed. The vast majority of Europe was still as it had been the day before, under the power of the swastika. Evil reigned through the whole continent. There was only this one little plot of ground, a few feet of sand on an obscure stretch of beach in one lonely country. But that one tiny stretch of land, that one tiny little beach, that was enough.
The truth is, at the end of that one day, everything was changed because now there was an opening, just a crack—a tiny little crack at first. But it would get a little larger the next day, and a little larger the day after that, and a little larger the week after that. And the forces would get stronger every day.
There still was a lot of fighting to do and a lot of suffering and a lot of dying. But from that day on it was just a matter of time. Then the day came when Paris was liberated. And then the day came when all of France was liberated. Then the days came when the concentration camps were overrun and prisoners were set free. Then the day came when Hitler destroyed himself in the bunker. And judgment came to that particular beast as it always does, as it always will. And then came V-E Day, victory. And then victory in the Pacific and the soldiers could come home. The war was over. The enemy was defeated. But really, the truth was that victory was all sealed on D-Day. It just took a while. The battle raged for a season. But after D-Day, victory on V-E Day was just a matter of time.
The Apostle John says this earth has fallen under a dark power. And then one day a woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who was destined to rule all the nations. He taught about and lived in a kingdom. He lived a kind of life that the rest of us had always dreamed of, but hardly dared hope for. Then one day, at a cost that none of us will ever fully understand, He took upon himself, on the cross, all the brokenness, all the suffering of D-Day, and all the suffering and all the sin and pain of every other day in the history of the human race since the Fall.
After the Sabbath day, before Jesus’ friends went to care for his body, the stone was moved. In one sense, nothing had changed. Pilate and the chief priests were still in charge. Caesar still reigned in Rome and didn’t even know the name of this obscure Messiah in some remote country. Nobody knew at first except a couple of women, but that was D-Day. Now there was an opening in this fallen world. Tiny at first—no bigger than the entrance of an empty tomb.
But now there was an opening, and the truth is, friends, every time you resist sin, every time you proclaim the Gospel, every time you give a portion of your resources for the spread of the kingdom, every time you offer a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name to the poor, that opening gets a little larger, and the darkness gets pushed back a little more, and the light gets a little stronger.
That’s why we exist as a church. That’s why we are called to struggle and pray and work and suffer and labor because one day liberation will come, make no mistake. There will be a lot of fighting and a lot of suffering and a lot of dying, but D-Day already happened when hardly anybody was looking. And at the end of that one day, everything had changed, and now it’s just a matter of time.