Dunkirk BoatA few months ago, a friend of mine was at lunch talking with a friend about the movie, Dunkirk. It’s a fantastic movie telling the story of the battle of Dunkirk in the early stages of World War II. If you are unfamiliar with the backstory, about 400,000 British and French troops were surrounded by the Germans near the city of Dunkirk with their backs up against the Strait of Dover. They were in a desperate situation, sitting ducks for the German forces. What made it worse is that because Dunkirk isn’t a port city the British Navy couldn’t get their large ships to the troops to rescue the soldiers. They were facing annihilation!

The British decided to send out an urgent message to the citizens of England. “If you have a boat of any kind, we need your help now!”

What happened next speaks to the courage of the British people. Almost 1000 boats of all shapes and sizes (private yachts, motor launches, lifeboats, paddle steamers and barges, the smallest boat being a 14ft open-topped fishing boat) crossed the Strait of Dover, some multiple times, to rescue about 340,000 soldiers! It’s an incredible story of heroism.

So, as my friend is finishing the story his friend looked at him, tilted his head, and said, “I guess sometimes you need a small boat.

How true! We live in a culture where bigger is emphasized as being better -- bigger stores, bigger churches, bigger boats -- but sometimes when we are stuck or stranded or surrounded, we need a small community who is willing to do whatever it takes, cross any boundary, and head into the danger to come rescue us. Sometimes we need a small boat!

Do you remember the various images in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas this past year? One of the images that stuck out to me is the video showing a line of small boats being towed on the freeway and heading into the flooded area to rescue those in need. The line goes on for miles - boat after boat after boat. Common people courageously using what they had to help in an endeavor that was overwhelming. Their impact on the Houston area was inspiring amid wide-spread devastation -- sometimes you just need a small boat!

For years, the North American church has been like a large ship sailing majestically through the sea. However, according to a recent Barna survey, just 4 percent of millennials have a biblical worldview. Now, that once majestic ship is beginning to look a lot like the sinking Titanic. So, if we are on a sinking ship, what do we do? Do we try to save a ship that is sinking (the institution we often call church)? Do we argue about how to re-arrange the deck chairs of this ship as it goes down? No! People need rescuing! We need a small boat – a life boat.

The movie Dunkirk left out a critical part of the story. As the German troops were on the brink of destroying the cornered British troops, a British officer transmitted a three-word message back home: “And if not.” The British people instantly recognized what the message meant: “Even if we are not rescued from Hitler’s army, we will stand strong.” This phrase, “And if not”, is found in the Book of Daniel, when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego defied King Nebuchadnezzar’s decree to fall down and worship his golden image. The officer was saying, “even if God doesn’t save us, we are putting our trust in Him.” This message was a rallying cry for the British people.

Today, we need small, courageous, loving communities who will be strong amid challenging circumstances, who will be there to sustain us and encourage us to hang on to the truth, because the odds for survival while living in isolation are low. No matter how connected we feel we may be through social media, we need true community. People like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who will stand with us no matter what we face – money, job, family, or marriage problems. Depression, loneliness, or heartache. We need to be a part of a community willing to rescue others and bring them aboard our small boat.

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. -- Hebrews 10:24-31 The Message


Written by Bryan Glanzer

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