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  • Writer's pictureAddison Crissone

Running

Louis Zamperini was a decorated World War 11 Veteran and beloved Christian Evangelist.

But before the war and before he met Jesus, Louis had a rough and unsteady early life. At a young age he began drinking, and on top of that, soon began smoking. He fought daily with harsh bullies everywhere he went.

So, Louis began running.

Running from his past, his uncertain future, and from the truth of reality.

Everyday he ran a little farther than the day before. He began running for track in high school, but soon, in 1936, he qualified for the olympics in Berlin.

There, he finished in 8th place and set a new world record.

Things were going pretty great for Louis, until war was declared. And in 1941, Louis was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Force, where he served as a Lieutenant Bombardier on the Air Corps 327nd Bomb Squadron.

It was during a search and rescue mission over the Pacific that his plane experienced major mechanical malfunctions, and he crashed over the ocean.

For forty-seven days, Louis drifted along on a life raft; and it was on that raft that he prayed a simple prayer like this-

“Lord, if you will only get me home, I will serve you forever.”

God heard Louis' prayer that day, but it wouldn't be until the Japanese surrender in 1945 that he would return home, malnourished and tortured at the hands of the Japanese who took him prisoner.

After arriving home, Louis suffered greatly with trauma and flashbacks of the torture he had endured. He resorted to drinking to drown his memories.

But when his wife took him to a Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angeles, Louis found the answer to all his problems.

And he remembered his prayer that day on the life raft so many years before.

God had brought him home.

Now it was Louis’ turn to keep his end of the deal.

And at last, Louis stopped running.

He turned to face his Savoir, and began running the race that God had called him to.

As Paul says in Philippians,

Forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (3: 13-14)

Louis began serving Christ, just as he promised; and it was a promise that he would keep for the rest of his life as he went on to forgive the Japanese men who had taken his captive and tortured him during the war.

He no longer ran aimlessly, but by the grace of God he turned the course of his life around, and was able to use his past as a testimony that still lives on today, eighty years after the darkest hour of his life.


Like Louis, we are all running from something.

Whether it be from God, from work, or a person from our pasts, we all seem to have reasons to run.

But God asks us to stop. To stand still.

Be still and know.

He wants us to stop aimlessly running around and chasing after foolish and temporal fixes for our problems. He wants us to come and sit at his feet and lay the burdens down.

And finally, he wants us to dedicate our lives and hearts to him, to be used by him for service.

Will you do that today?

Friend, will you stop running?


Scripture:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

-1 Corinthians 9: 24-27

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