The opening scene of the movie, Saving Private Ryan, shows the incredible carnage and sacrifice that occurred during the Invasion of Normandy. We look on with horror as hundreds, then thousands of soldiers are killed in the battle that changed the course of the war. From this scene emerges a humble schoolteacher, now a Captain, who is assigned an unusual mission. Captain John Miller, played by Tom Hanks, is ordered to lead a small platoon across Germany and retrieve Private James Ryan. It seems that Ryan’s three older brothers had all been killed on a single day, and General Marshall wanted to bring the sole surviving son back to his mother.
Captain Miller eventually located Private Ryan. Ryan’s company was in the middle of a difficult battle, attempting to secure a bridge. Because of Ryan’s loyalty to his fellow soldiers, Miller had to use every bit of persuasion he had to finally convince Ryan to leave his comrades. But before he could leave, a counter assault by the Nazis killed many of the valiant troops, as well as mortally wounding Captain Miller. Miller addressed his last words to Private Ryan, “James – earn this. Earn it.”
That was a powerful command, wasn’t it? How could a single soldier possibly pay back all that sacrifice? Of course that leads to the real question, how can we possible pay back the incredible sacrifices made by our military? Some thoughts do come to mind: being good citizens, casting responsible votes, and being thankful for their service and our freedom.
Even more important, how can we ever pay back Christ for giving His life for us? Most amazing of all, we can’t! We can never earn His favor. We simply have to accept His life and gift on faith; and then to please Him, love God and our neighbors as ourselves. This is a way of showing our gratitude for His love and grace that we can NEVER earn.