Have you heard of the battle of Los Angeles – 1942? It all began on the night of February 24th while the world was in the midst of its second “World War” when something truly strange occurred. Following the attacks on Pearl Harbor by a few months, Americans feared attacks on the mainland. There arose reports of a looming Japanese attack within naval communication and they made immediate plans to intercept the assault with antiaircraft preparations. Around 2am the next morning, there were apparent enemy aircraft spotted on the radar about 120 miles off the California coast and shortly thereafter, artillery and antiaircraft guns began firing into the night. Behind LA’s dozing population, .50 caliber rounds were unleashed at an invisible enemy.
After all was said and done, it seemed that the enemy was only a figment of their imagination and no aircraft was ever truly there. That’s right, World War II officially met the US mainland on this day – and yet, the enemy never did!
It’s so interesting because many who read this story will laugh at the amount of effort that was expended over a troubled imagination. We recognize the humor that came with this quick-trigger-finger mindset which had the original radar techs shrinking in their seats when they realize what had occurred after their mistake. And yet another thought comes to my mind as well – isn’t it ingrained in humanity to allow anxiety to overcome our better senses? Isn’t it a fact of life that our unfounded fears can fester within our flesh and distract us from God’s peace that surpasses all understanding that comes with His sovereignty?
Don’t we all have moments in which we find ourselves with quite a quick anxiety- or fear-trigger finger? I will be the first to admit that this is a weakness of mine. I am prone to anxiety and I place fear on a pedestal in the most inopportune times in my life, but that’s the way Satan, our true enemy works, doesn’t he? He seeks the weak links in our armor and attacks, oftentimes causing us to focus on the power of our chosen opposition rather than the power of our Creator.
I recently met with someone whose humility struck me. Where they had been listening to an unfounded fear that I was a threat, they now understand it was an airstrike over imagined enemies. In the darkness and haze of uncertain times, just like at 2am on a February morning in 1945, we can all begin to see things that aren’t there and they came to me with that truth. You never plan to hear the words that were spoken, but this person made it a priority to display a few biblical truths in my life and it was like medicine to my bones.
- They displayed the humility of Romans 12:3 – “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
- They sought unity over division – “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:14-15)
- They testified to God’s mission for us from John 13:35 – “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- They displayed the Fruit of the Spirit – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
- They showed me each attribute of love that is included in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
- And it was all motivated by 1 John 4:15-19 – “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, we also are in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.”
If you have the opportunity to apologize to anyone this week, I can tell you from first-hand experience the joy and peace that comes. Process these passages and pray over chances to extend them to others. I know that I will be doing the same and finding people or groups of people in my life whom I have imagined to be enemies. I will commit to following the lead of this person and in so doing, God will use our humility to show His love and truth to the world.
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff