Jay's eDevotionals  

May 22

Memorial Day: Remembering God's Blessings with Gratitude

A deep sense of gratitude prompted an old man to visit an old pier on the eastern coast of Florida. Nearly every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly with a big bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this gracious gentleman, and he would feed them. This grateful man was Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. Many years before, in October of 1942, he was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea.

But an unexpected detour hurled Captain Rickenbacker into the most harrowing adventure of his life. Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost. Fuel ran low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Rickenbacker and his companions would fight the water, sharks, the weather and the scorching sun. They spent sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. But of all their enemies at sea, the worst was starvation. Their rations quickly evaporated. It would take a miracle to sustain them and God sent them one.

Eddie described God’s miraculous provision, “Captain William Cherry read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off. Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food...if I could catch it.”

And the rest of the story is history. Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice. The men survived and were later rescued.

Eddie never forgot. So nearly every Friday evening, about sunset, on a lonely stretch of Florida seacoast, you could see an old man walking with his big bucket of shrimp coming to feed the gulls. Eddie came to remember that sea gull who gave itself without a struggle and say thanks.

Memorial Day generates the opportunity to recall those who graciously provided for us—like Soldiers who died to protect our freedoms and our singular Savior whose sacrifice gives eternal life.

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