American B-24 hit by anti-aircraft flak, November, 1944
Among the great heroes of World War II were the men who flew the bombers and fighter planes in thousands of dangerous missions over Europe. One of the keys to stopping the German army on the field was to destroy the factories in Germany that were making the many vehicles and guns and ammunition needed to keep that vast war machine going. Every day hundreds of planes took to the air to bomb these factories, flying into fierce antiaircraft fire from the ground and attacking fighter planes in the air. These flight squadrons sustained some of the highest casualty rates of all the groups of soldiers in the entire war.
There is an interesting story of one of pilots who survived. He described how the anti-aircraft ammunition got more sophisticated as the war went on. At first, many of the shells were nothing more than big bullets, and even if hit, the shell might fly through a wing or into the plane itself and not cause significant damage. Later on, however, ‘flak’ was invented and used in the anti-aircraft guns. These were shells that exploded upon impact, spreading shrapnel all around like a hand grenade. A hit by one of these could blow a wing off and the plane would crash.
This pilot described how on one flight his plane got hit by several of these shells, and he was quite sure he would be going down. But the shells did not explode and he made it back to the base without any trouble. When on the ground he examined the plane and was able to locate one of the shells, still stuck in the plane’s wing. He noticed that indeed it was one of the newer, more deadly shells, but for some reason it had not exploded on impact. He was curious and wanted to look inside. So he had the shell carefully taken apart, and he was surprised to see what was inside. In that particular shell, there was no shrapnel or explosive powder at all. All that was inside was a piece of crumpled up paper. He unraveled the paper and saw that it had a message: “Hello,” it said, “My name is Stanislaw. I am a Polish Jew forced by the Nazis to work in a munitions factory. This is all I can do for now.”
“All I could do for now,” he wrote. All he could do was fill those shells with crumpled up paper instead of shrapnel– that was all, but it was enough to save the life of that pilot and his crew on that day, and no doubt the lives of many others. I had always heard about the heroic pilots in World War II, but I had never heard of Stanislaw. But he and those like him also contributed to the defeat of one of the most powerful and wicked regimes in history.
God calls some people to do great things for him. It seems he calls most of us to do more common and ordinary things. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is one of the most important people in all of the Bible. Yet, her importance was in her very ordinary role as a mother, being obedient to God’s call on her life. May we also be obedient to God’s call, doing our best to serve God in whatever circumstances He has placed us.
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. –Mother Theresa
It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. –Ancient Proverb
Luke 1:38 — “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “Let it be to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.
Matthew 10:42 — Jesus said, “If anyone, because he is my disciple, gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
Luke 16:10 — (Jesus said), “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
Matthew 25:23 — (Jesus said), “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Colossians 3:17 — And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
“Here am I. Send me.” –Isaiah 6:8, where Isaiah responds to God’s call upon him to serve.