If you have ever seen “Saving Private Ryan” I’m sure it left you with powerful impressions. I remember watching the audience leaving the theater after seeing the movie with stunned expressions on their faces. For me, it was not only the most powerful war movie ever made but I couldn’t help seeing spiritual parallels in it.
In the opening scenes as waves of landing craft plowed through choppy seas towards Omaha Beach, the camera panned the faces of men suffering the agonies of sea-sickness, of gut-wrenching fear and the private prayers of anxious men. They were heading to a stretch of occupied France that would soon resemble a hellish slaughterhouse. Moments before their boarding ramp went down Captain John Miller, played by Tom Hanks, utters this final encouragement to the soldiers hunkered down in the craft; “I’ll see you on the beach”. Those few words resonate with me. They challenge me. They inspire me.
Theodore Roosevelt of the “Rough Riders” fame once stated that; “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
No more fitting quote could be spoken of those brave young soldiers who would soon step into murderous machine-gun fire, exploding mines and incoming motors as this. As Captain Miller stared ahead towards the inevitable carnage that awaited them on the beach he spoke these simple words will steely resolve. Those simple words embody the commitment, the determination and the courage of those who would soon step into the killing zone. They were words that characterized the bravery of all those who had answered the call, who had risen to the challenge and were willing to sacrifice all that was most sacred and dear to them for the sake of freedom.
“I’ll see you on the beach” also speaks to me of all those who endured their personal trials and temptations with steadfast faith in Christ, fought a good fight, finished their race and kept the faith against all odds.
And so each of us fights on in that great fight of faith with the same resolve as Captain Miller and the thousands of young men who struggled ashore that bloody day. We continue forward in the face of adversity knowing that He will uphold us, lead us and see us through to inevitable victory.