By May 1940, most of Europe has descended into an abyss of oppression and fear. France had been crushed by a devastating mechanised assault and the British Expeditionary Force was being squeezed towards the Channel port of Dunkirk. The following dire prediction came on May 27th "The British Army is encircled and our troops are proceeding to its annihilation." This is the Great Escape.
The day before that threatening announcement, King George VI had called on the people of Britain to commit their desperate plight to Almighty God. You see, in 1940 Britian was a God-fearing nation and so many of our young people serving on the front line had fresh memories of Sunday School. Maybe a good number were reminded of a famous Bible story. Moses had led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt but an opposing army were in hot pursuit. Having gone as far as they could, the Israelites were cornered and stranded on a beach by the Red Sea. Moses believed in God and what he had said but only a miracle would save them. Moses raised his staff in obedience to God’s instructions, the Red Sea parted and a nation walked through on dry land.
When George VI announced a Day of Pray the response was unprecedented. Westminster Abbey was packed and running over with overflow crowds on the streets of London. Churches the length and breadth of the land were at capacity for the first time in decades. What would happen? Was God listened? Would the prayers of the people be answered? Within hours, unusual developments began taking place across the English Channel. Hitler inexplicably ordered his troops to halt their advance and a freak storm grounded his warplanes. History records what took place over the next few days as 338,226 soldiers were evacuated off the beach at Dunkirk by an armada of 800 privately owned ‘little ships’ sailing alongside the Royal Navy beneath the White Ensign.
It would prove to be an event upon which the destiny of the free world would hinge. Millions of people believed that God had answered the prayers of the British people. Prime Minister, Winston Churchill addressed a euphoric House of Commons calling Operation Dynamo a ‘Miracle of Deliverance’ but now a fresh struggle was about to begin as Britian stared down the barrel of invasion. The King called another Day of Prayer as the future of these islands hung in the balance. So much rested on the young shoulders of the Spitfire and Hurricane pilots who took to the skies against terrible odds. The invaders were pushed back day after day until the threat of invasion was eventually removed.
The parting of the Red Sea and what happened off the south coast of England are dramatic examples of a divine rescue but in both cases, the people soon forgot about God. We are living, once again, in dangerous days when we need God in our lives and in the life of our nation. We have turned our backs on the God of the Bible and sought to erase him from both our present and our history. It has led us up a cul-de-sac of chaos. So many of the Jesus encounters happened near the Sea of Galilee, a place notorious for storms both then and now. On one occasion, the fishermen who followed him, were being overpowered in rough seas. To their amazement Jesus came towards them walking on the surface of the water and got into the boat with them.
We need God in the boat our lives and we need him to deliver us from the stormy seas that once again threaten the life of our nation. He is close at hand, he waits for us to ask for his help. Jesus lived, died and rose again to get us off the beach and give us a new hope in relationship with God.