Last Saturday evening, my wife Jenny and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. It was a beautiful day and we didn’t want the sun to go down before we walked a couple of miles. About a quarter mile into our stroll we said hello to one of our neighbors that we see from time to time. Roy, 92, a retired and widowed gentleman, was raking a few leaves and pine straw near his house. As we greeted, he moved toward us as if he wanted to talk which was a bit unusual. We paused our walk and exchanged handshakes.
Jenny had gotten to know Roy and his wife through their participation in the Friends of the Avis G. Williams Library in our neighborhood. I’m not sure how we stumbled into a conversation about college and education, but pretty soon Roy was talking about when he joined the Army Air Corps during World War II after two years of college. He was a navigator on a B-24 Liberator. Roy told us a few vignettes of his experience. Once, due to weather, they had to land in Iceland and then Ireland before making it to England. During our conversation, Roy’s eyes were crystal clear except for two narratives that he shared. The first time he was explaining about how he was not the “lead navigator” for his group, but was a navigator for one of the planes in a formation. After his tour of duty of flying bombing sorties over Europe was coming to a close, the lead navigator sought him out and commended Roy on the excellent job he had done and said, “you should’ve been a lead navigator.” Roy’s eyes turned watery red for 20 seconds or so and then he continued.
He said that his relationship with the pilot of his plane wasn’t that great and he often felt under appreciated. He described a mission when Roy gave the pilot very specific directions to avoid attack, “Make a 90 degree turn to the right and fly for three minutes then turn left.” Apparently, this saved their mission and perhaps their lives. Later, back at their base in England, the pilot sought out Roy and said, “Good work, back there. You really saved us.” And, again, Roy’s eyes turned red and glistened with tears. As I listened and watched, I could see that he was deeply touched by those memories. Later, I remembered the closing scene from “Saving Private Ryan” when Ryan asked his wife, “Am I a good man?” I wasn’t able to engage with Roy the other day in much depth, but my heart tells me that he was asking that question, too. And he was asking us to affirm that, too. As we gladly did.
I was reminded of one of the ways that we (our fellowship) can protect each other through being the voice of God or the echo of God’s voice. Reality 4 of the Battle for the Heart process breaks this down for us. “Validation authenticates the reality or essence of something. Affirmation agrees with that validation.” Truly, our validation comes from the Triune God our creator, lover and redeemer, and we receive affirmation from the body of Christ and usually a small subset of that body.
If you are asking yourself the question “Where am I hearing the voice of God?” or “Am I a good man?” You may want to review Reality 4B in the Battle For Your Heart manual and take some to reflect and listen for the inner Voice of love that bears witness with your spirit that you are God’s beloved.
Jimmy is a Wellspring alumnae and event facilitator who has submitted numerous posts for our blog. He recently published his book "Sacred Heart Attack."