It was around nine o’clock last night when I heard the words of the prophet Isaiah bellow out from our television screen,
Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard,
that the everlasting God, the Lord,
the Creator of the ends of the earth,
fainteth not, neither is weary?
There is no searching of his understanding.
He giveth power to the faint;
and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
and the young men shall utterly fall:
but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.
Seeing that my husband does not watch religious broadcasting, I struggled to concentrate on returning emails while I heard scripture and church bells in the background. The word of God drew me like a moth to a flame to a tv screen I never watch. Like following the scent of fresh-baked chocolate chips cookies coming out of the oven, the word was just too powerful to ignore. I ended up curled up in bed, watching from that point the 2016 film, Hacksaw Ridge which was calling my name in the background.
The story follows a young Seventh Day Adventist who refuses to bear arms during his service in World War II. His conscientious objection was not in the traditional sense, but defined in his Christian understanding of the ten commandments, more particularly the six commandment, “Thou Shalt not Kill.” The film directed by Mel Gibson documents Desmond Doss in a personal way, following his battle to serve his God in the way that He understood God to be. It’s keen focus on the Lord’s leading in His life was simplistic- God says I can’t kill so I won’t. Instead, I will serve my country under God’s authority.
Doss becomes an unarmed combat medic and through God’s guiding hand, rescues seventy-five wounded men, he himself also surviving. For his courage and valor, he was the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Valor.
What I found most fascinating about the film and Doss’s life was his total acceptance of God and his firm foundation. There was no negotiating on three basic things for Doss- following the teachings of the bible, keeping the sabbath and attending church. This trinity was non-negotiable. Doss was unwavering. Like a solid tower, the gospel became simple, there was no compromise. His bible became his weapon of choice.
The sheer clarity that Doss had regarding God’s teaching was the plainest I had ever heard it. No Phd run bible studies, theologians or scholars. No denominational talk. I don’t eat meat, I don’t carry guns, I pray. I was completely enchanted by his rhetoric and ability to define God in such an uncompromising way. Its beauty was unparalleled.
I was moved from deep within my soul to uncomplicate things, to make things, like Doss non-negotiable. I am Catholic. Pray my rosary daily, attend mass and adhere to the teachings of God’s Holy word. It just then became simple. I had unraveled the Catechism, the Bible and my Jewish heritage all in three movements.
Desmond Doss is certainly a hero for His selfless service to our country, but in my eyes, he is a hero for His insanely tangible faith in God, the concreteness of his faith and for proclaiming the gospel by the way he lives his life- bible, sabbath, church. No compromises. Are you?