Friday, September 12, 2014

Jewel # 187 (Sept. 12, 2014)

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“They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make
up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

Gratitude

Some 40 years ago, it was a familiar sight on Friday evenings, to see an elderly man slowly walking along a Florida beach with a large bucket of shrimp.  The sea gulls would fly, flocking to him, and he would feed them until his bucket was empty.

Many years before, in October 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) was part of an aircrew flying a mission on a B-17 aircraft.  Somewhere over the South Pacific it lost radio contact and direction in the trackless ocean.  The aircraft finally ran out of fuel and the pilot had to ditch the plane in the ocean.  For many days, the crew floated helplessly in safety rafts.  They daily faced the blazing sun, bad weather, and huge sharks - the worst enemy being starvation.

After 8 days their rations had been used up.  To keep their courage and sprits up, the young aircrew prayed, sang hymns and quoted Bible verses daily.

On the ninth day, after they had prayed for deliverance and sung together, the men began to doze off in the oppressive heat.  Captain Rickenbacker had pulled his hat down over his face to protect it from the sun as he dozed.  But he was awakened out of his stupor by the distinct sensation that something had landed on his head.

He seemed to know it was a sea gull.  Oddly, the other men had awakened too.   They were silently staring at him and the sea gull on his head, none  daring to make a movement or utter a sound.  With a silent prayer for help, Captain Rickenbacker desperately grabbed for and caught the sea gull! 

That sea gull was the means by which the men were saved - saved by a sea gull, uncharacteristically flying hundreds of miles from landfall.  Its flesh served both as food for the men, and as bait which enabled the crew to catch fish.  Though they spent another 3 or 4 weeks in the ocean, that lone sea gull had provided them the means of their survival until, ultimately, they were found and rescued.

Captain Rickenbacker never forgot that sea gull.  So it was that, even as an old man, every Friday evening he would feed the sea gulls, remembering that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle, to save his life and the lives of all the aircrew.

“. . . I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)

Love you all,
Grandpa     

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