Vimy’s Lessons

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first world war battle of Vimy Ridge. We’re hearing a lot about it because it was won mostly by young Canadian men. There had been 150,000 French casualties from prior attempts to win control over the infamous ridge, but the Germans resisted. In three days 100,000 Canadians threw themselves into the battle and took the hill. Over 3600 of our men were killed and 7,000 wounded.

Historians have developed many theories to explain how we did it when others couldn’t. In his 2008 book Vimy, Pierre Berton explained that most of our young soldiers were farm boys used to horses and fixing machinery. Both skills were invaluable in WW1. Nervous horses were dealt with in the noise of battle, and there was plenty of help to keep the machines of war going. The result was a very patient army that slowly and firmly overcame the Germans. Patience and skill won the day.

James wrote about the need for patience when we encounter trials. He said, “And let patience have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (1:4) The writer of Hebrews also said, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (12:1) And, “You have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promises.” (10:36)

Patience gives us the energy we need to endure, it helps us deal with obstacles in the way, and it guarantees victory. It won the battle at Vimy. How many battles will it win for you?

– Tim Johnson

Men of Whom the World Was Not Worthy

We’ve all been encouraged with the great characters found in Hebrews 11. The people listed there lived their lives by faith, which is the focus of the chapter. In moving terms the author describes the courageous nature of each of them and the heroic things they did way back in history. While some of them became famous in the Old Testament, many lived out of history’s view. It didn’t matter if anyone was watching them, they lived and died for the Lord anyway.

One statement in verse 38 stands out, although it’s only parenthetical: “…men of whom the world was not worthy.” How could people who were forced to “wander in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground” be considered so great that the world wasn’t worthy of them? Surely such people looked miserable, stressed, poor, and weak. What made them remarkable is that they endured hardships because, in their circumstances, it was necessary in order to be faithful. They chose the hard road because it was the only road to heaven. God considers people like this to be the greatest in the world. Faith makes all the difference.

What a contrast to the people today the world considers great. Attention always goes to the fabulously rich, to the outrageous, rebellious, immoral, and the reckless. The world likes people like this and gives them honour. But God views people of faith as the cream of the crop.

Don’t spend your time worrying about getting rich or trying to look cool and reckless. You might get some attention, but God will only shake His head. He wants you to live for Him in a way that will move you to sacrifice and endure hardships – if that is necessary – and to make the right decisions for yourself and your family, no matter the social repercussions. If you do, in God’s view, the world is not worthy of you.

Read Hebrews 11 again. Could your name fit in there?

– Tim Johnson

He’s Permanent

National elections can be very stressful. Last year we voted in a new Prime Minister and his Liberal government, which is a complete changeover from the previous ruling political party. Many people have worried about how well our young head of government will perform, and what changes he will introduce. In the United States, people are still upset and concerned that their president-elect will be up to the job. His unusual ways are making people nervous.

This is the nature of democracy. Leaders are voted in when the previous ones have run out of time, or become unfit to continue. We have the privilege of voting for the people we think are best, but we don’t always get what we want. In my lifetime, there have been 13 different Prime Ministers so far.

If we worry about the suitableness of new leaders every four or five years, what would it be like if our great high priest in heaven changed every few years also? Wouldn’t we worry about his ability to keep us saved?

The writer of the Book of Hebrews discusses this in chapter 7:23-25. He reminds us that a new high priest had to be appointed over the Israelites every time an old one passed away. “They existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing.” Like our modern-day politicians, people never knew what they would get.

But Jesus is different. He will never become incompetent or die. He sits in heaven permanently, which gives us confidence that we will continue to be saved every day. “He, on the other hand, because He abides forever, holds his Priesthood permanently. Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

National leaders will come and go. But Jesus will always remain our great High Priest. He can keep us save right to the end. Do not worry.

– Tim Johnson