Levi Lusko - Moving The Needle
1. Moving The Needle
2. On Your Left
3. Camels and Needles and Spoons
4. Red In The Shed
You know, since their invention 2,000 years ago, compasses have been helping lost souls find their way home. And that's because when you have a compass in your hand, you have direction for your life. Say it with me. When you have a compass in your hand, you have direction for your life. And at the center of every compass is a rose. At least that's what we call the star with the four cardinal directions: north, south, east, west. Because when you're looking at a compass from above, it looks a bit like a ripe rose that's blossomed all the way, that's opened up all the way. These four cardinal directions, the compass, that's what they call the compass rose.
The largest compass rose that's ever been built is in California. It's nearly a mile across. If you can believe it, the diameter of the compass rose at Edwards Air Force Base is 4,000 feet across. You have to go up to a considerable height to be able to even see this thing. I mean, here's a picture of it from above. By the way, it's one of the top things that I would recommend you get to on Google Earth. After you've looked at the Sphinx, and the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre, check out the compass rose at Edwards Air Force Base. Of course, being restricted airspace, this is one of the only ways you can look at it is from Google Earth. But this is nearly a mile in diameter. That's not the circumference, that's the diameter. And yes, I did have to Google that to make sure I used the right word there. The diameter is 4,000 feet. But it's not just beautiful. This compass rose serves a purpose.
Of course, they do so much testing of rockets and airplanes, and this is where they land the space shuttle when it comes back to the United States. Back in the era of the space shuttle, they had the longest runway in the world there at Edwards. And this compass rose is next to the emergency runway. So it serves the purpose of being able to help aviators in distress know which direction they're facing from a long way up, coming in at nearly any direction. If you're flying a plane you've been testing, and all of a sudden now, the engines have failed. And maybe something has interfered with the magnets that are involved in the compass in your dashboard. And now you don't know which way you're facing. From a long ways away, the hope is you'll be able to see this compass rose. And what happens?
When there's a compass in your hand, you have direction for your life. It's there to help those who are hurting, to help those in a critical moment when seconds become hours. And that is the heart of the Compass Rose Series. And that is why we're going to move towards December 15 and 16, the final weekend of the Compass Rose Series, when everybody who's a part of Fresh Life Church is being called upon to respond to God's Holy Spirit through a month of prayer by giving a special year-end offering that would help us as a church to make the compass rose get just a little bit bigger. Just to get a little bit bigger. Just to paint those lines a little bit wider. Just to make the northern arrow just a little bit higher up so that more people who are lost would find their way home because of what we're doing here at the church. Because bigger isn't better just for bigger's sake.
The compass rose at Edwards made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest compass that's ever been built. But big whoop. If bigger is just for bigger's sake, it isn't better. But when bigger is going to help more people, then bigger is better. And I'm telling you something, the way we see it, this church can never be big enough because there are so many hurting people. There's so many people who don't yet know Jesus. There's so many lost people carrying around guilt, who don't know the meaning of life, how don't understand what happens when you have a relationship with Jesus, who haven't been freed from the shackles of religion, and the shackles of sin, and the shackles of self-loathing to understand what happens when you know that God lives inside of you and you're headed to Heaven. Who don't understand how sweet it feels to be forgiven.
And our desire as a church has always been to not be defined by those who are inside, but to be compelled by those who are still outside. And so our goal is to stretch wide the arrows, to stretch wide the markings on the ground so that this compass rose might get just a little bit bigger so we could help more lost souls find their way home because it's fantastic to know Jesus. But what we're not OK with is keeping that precious news to ourselves. We want to go into the highways and into the byways so that as many as possible would come. That's our heart. And really, a verse that's at the center of why we would put it out there, I'm telling you a month from now when this exciting weekend is going to be. December 15 and 16, we're all going to bring that gift above and beyond our normal giving. I put that out there because some of you, when I talk about money, when you hear a pastor talk about finances, it just causes there to be like a cringe reaction. Almost like, get off that. Get off that. Move on to something as quickly as possible.
But here's the deal. We already received our weekend offering, and there's not another one today. So this isn't some high-pitched thing with an ask coming in a moment. Like, usher, shut the door. No one gets out of here till everyone gives. First of all, the Bible talks about offerings as being free will and as the Spirit would lead us, where we get to show God how much what he's done in our lives means to us, and how much we want to see that spread and grow. I love what Isaiah says on the subject of giving in Isaiah 32, verse 8. It says "A generous man devises generous things. And by generosity, he shall stand". I tell you, a month from now, this is coming. This moment, this opportunity for us to invest and have greater ownership in what God's going to do in the coming days. Why?
So you can devise some generous things. Because if it was today, what we could give? Well, we could all open up our wallets and tip God. But what I'm talking about is devising. I'm talking about, one translation says scheming. A generous man schemes how he can do more, how he can do more things of generosity. I tell you a month from now so that we all as church family can say, what can we do? What do I need to move around? What do I need to sell? What do I need to trade? Well, would need to happen in order for me to make liquid what I could do to invest in what I believe God's going to do? To spread these markings on the ground just a little bit wider so that someone coming in just a little bit higher and just a little bit hotter would be able to see, and at the critical moment, come to know how wonderful it is to find life and liberty in Jesus Christ and to no longer be stranded in sin.
I tell you so that you can spend the month doing what Jennie, and I, and our kids are going to do. We're going to pray, how can we be involved? How can we have more skin in the game in what God is going to do? Anybody excited about what this is going to mean for us? I sure am because I've discovered that when I give myself over to building God's Kingdom, he gives himself over to building my life. And so many of us are worried about our lives, and we're putting God's Kingdom on the back burner. But God said, "Seek first my Kingdom and my righteousness, and all these things I will add on to you". You build God's house, you watch as he builds your house. I'm just telling you, it's never, ever a mistake to put God first because you'll never come in second doing that. It's just a beautiful thing and a wonderful journey.
And so we invite you all, as much as you would want to, to join those of us who would say, this is my church. This is my house. It's not a church I attend. It's a people I'm a part of. It's something I belong to. It's something I'm passionately committed to. And I've watched God work in my kids. I've watched God work in my family. I've watched God work in my parents. And my marriage is better. And the way I approach life as a business leader is better. And now I'm excited and thrilled to make it get a little bit louder. I want to make the speakers have a few more amps to them. We've always said we want to rock the gospel from the loudest speakers possible so that as many people as possible would hear.
The title of my message today as we kind of begin this conversation is Moving the Needle. Moving the Needle, would you jot that down in your notes? Compass Rose Part 1: Moving the Needle. Every week of the series, I'm going to give you a takeaway word, a word for the week. So if you come all four weeks, you'll get to collect all four. And the word for the week today is nostalgia. Would you jot that down, as well, somewhere next to the title: nostalgia. They say Albert Einstein wasn't much of a student, which is kind of hard to believe when you think that Einstein, literally, now is in the dictionary as a synonym for genius. But apparently, there was a day when his teachers were worried about him and thought perhaps he was slow.
And so let that inspire you with anything that you would hear a teacher or any expert ever say about you or someone you love. Take it with a grain of salt that there was a day when Albert Einstein's teachers were wondering if maybe just maybe the boy wasn't a little bit slow. Turns out, he was actually just bored with what they were trying to talk to him about. And he was already a few clicks above where the experts were. And he famously has said the number one thing that got in the way of his learning was his education. Yeah, yikes. Now, of course, not everybody learns like Einstein did. He was very much a self-learner and a self-feeder. And the way he learned wasn't someone sitting there lecturing him through a syllabus, but rather him cracking the books himself. Or more to the point, just giving deep thought and asking a lot of questions.
Albert Einstein was an insatiable learner and someone who never dialed down the childlike curiosity that Jesus wants to be a part of your life every day of your life. In fact, Jesus said that you should have the faith like a child, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven, to never stop asking why, to never stop pondering, to never stop imagining. Whether you're imagining someone falling off a building, as warped and as twisted as that was, actually came in handy in Einstein's life, or you're pretending you were riding on a beam of light as a train: both of his really celebrated breakthrough ideas, the theory of relativity and his postulating about light. He actually set out, he said famously, to understand God's language in mathematics. He wanted to figure out how God speaks when it comes to math. But he, in his later years, pointed back to his childhood, and specifically, a gift he received from his father as being one of the big things that set him off on this life of curiosity, and imagination, and asking questions.
As the story goes, he was sick one day and wasn't able to go to school. And his father came home to visit him. They were living in Munich at the time. And brought him a gift, and the gift was a compass, just a simple ordinary compass. And his father brought it to him as a present. And as a five-year-old, Albert did what all of us would do. He sat there looking at it and trying to figure it out. And his father wisely didn't tell him all about it. And here's how it works. And here's what to do with it. He just gave it to him and let the compass do the talking. Albert said that he would stay up all night, like literally, up all night with chills running up and down his spine, spinning back and forth in his bed, watching the compass needle move, both trying to figure it out and trying to trick it. But he realized that no matter what he did, every single time, the needle found its way back to north.
And he said, speaking about this moment in his life later on, look at it on the screen. "That experience," the compass, "made a deep and lasting impression on me. Because something had to be behind hidden things". Here's the trick of the compass. When you close it and put it away, you still obviously are surrounded by whatever was causing that needle to move. You see, the compass just makes observable what was already there, just invisible. Think about it for a second. I right now can see the effects of the magnetic forces, but they're still there now. So his entire life of five years: granted. But his entire life, they had always been there. He was freaked out, going, those things were already there? And they're still there now. Only I could see now because of this gift. The gift of a compass helped him to see what couldn't be seen with a naked eye. And so began him asking the question, if those forces were there, I just didn't know about it, what other forces might be there? He asked questions when he looked up at the stars. What makes them shine? Who but Einstein does this?
He said, I want to write an equation that should be small, little. He said, less than an inch long. But I want that simple equation to explain the rules that govern the universe. And he did it: E equals MC squared. That energy can become mass and mass can become energy, explaining how the stars shine. And in less than an inch, a little equation that explained the rules that govern the universe. In addition to, of course, his theory of relativity, which is to say that the faster you move through space, the slower you move through time. And I love how when someone said, well, could you explain the theory of relativity to me in a way that I can understand it? He said, put your finger on a stove, and a second will become an hour. Spend an hour with a pretty girl, and an hour will feel like a second.
So there you have it: the theory of relativity. And yes, in case you're wondering, Einstein was a hit with the ladies, but mostly because of his violin. Yep, apparently, he would just really kill them. He'd woo them in playing some Bach, playing some Mozart on that violin. Einstein, you dog, you. But I want to bring you back now to Einstein's bed as a five-year-old, as he sat there really just almost tortured by the question, what is moving the needle? And that's the same question I want to ask you. Now, the answer in Einstein's day was, of course, the molten iron within the Earth's core. But that's not the explanation for what's moving the needle inside of us because the truth is, no matter where you live, no matter what your name is, no matter what kind of music you listen to, we all experience the same phenomenon.
And that is the universal sensation that there's something more. There's something out there. It's not just eating. And it's not just having a good job. And it's not just watching the football game and seeing my team win. Haven't you felt it, that universal sensation that, hold on a second. Hold on a second. There's something more. I have felt it moving throw pillows. Oh, yeah, throw pillows, throw pillows. I remember when I first got married, I didn't know that was a thing. I had one pillow on my bed, on a twin mattress. That was a pillow on my bed. I get married. What's all these new pillows doing here? What's all these things? They're not functional. They go on the bed. Why? So you can take them off before you go to sleep. And then what? You put them back on the next morning. I thought, hold on a second. I don't have very long to live on this earth. How much of my time? I started calculating, how much of my life am I going to be spending on these throw pillows? Turns out, very little because my wife's very good at making the bed.
So good that sometimes she makes it with me in it still. But I think we've all in ways small and ways large pondered the meaning of life. And if we're just the product of chance, and if we're just smart mud. and if it's all just a biological lottery winning that causes us to be here on this earth, then why should we care about meaning? If it's true that you don't have a soul. If it's true that when you're dead, it's just lights out, game over, thanks for playing, is it fair? Does it matter? Natural selection, survival of the fittest, dog-eat-dog, weak being preyed on by the strong: if that's true, then why, why, why do we ask questions about immortality? Why are we all talking about is there an afterlife? Why do we care about things like forgiveness? Why do we care about things like guilt? Why do we all just have this awareness, whether we like it or not, admit it or not, there is such a thing as right. And there is such a thing as wrong. And there is a difference.
Why would there be this universal sensation of perhaps there is more? Dogs don't do this. Have you ever come home from work and found your dog chasing its tail? You're like, yes. But did you ever ask it why was it chasing its tail? And it responded to you, well, here's the thing master. I'm frustrated because I drink out of the toilet. I chase the cat. I chase the mailman. I just feel like maybe there's more. He has his head in his paws now, and he's just wondering, what's the meaning of life? What's going to happen to me? No, no. Humans are alone in our need for transcendence in our quest for immortality and significance. And we want to be remembered after we've left this planet. It's a universal sensation. And listen to me very carefully. It is responsible for all those feelings you have of nostalgia. Nostalgia, homesickness: the two words in Latin that form the word nostalgia is nostos, which means to return home in Latin, and algos, which means pain. Algos, which is why they refer to medicines to try and take pain away as analgesics. Algos, to take the pain away: analgesics. Nostos, return home. Algos, pain. Pain to return home. Pain you feel: either the thought of returning home in some cases.
Thanksgiving was just a few days away. Some of us are still there, traumatized by being around our family. Others of us have pain because we want to return home, but can't because that idealized childhood, maybe it just only last a few lasted a few years. But there's this idea of homesickness. And it's funny. The littlest things can cue it. I bought one of those little emulators at Best Buy for my kids to play the video games that I played as a kid because I can't keep up with the games that they're playing. I have too few fingers for the buttons on the remote controller of the Xbox. It starts shaking. I don't know what's going on here. But I can handle the cross pad and the A B.
Anybody with me? Preaching the gospel up in here about Mario Bros number one. You know what I'm saying? But man, the order of those mushrooms. It's been 30 years since I first started playing Mario Bros but they come out at the same exact order every time. I can just listen to the music and know when to jump. Do-do-do-do-do-do. Do-do-do-do-do-do. I guess that's level two. And it's blue now. And playing it with them it just takes me back. But you can't really go back, can you? You can't ever really use that nostalgia to guide your way back to whatever it is you hope you would feel if you could get back to what in your mind is better than it actually was when you were really there.
I remember the first time I was in Colorado Springs as an adult. And I drove, and found my way to the street, that I lived on as a little kid. And all the memories that I hold up as being the high time of my childhood, I'm sure you have an era. It could even just be a day or an hour that was your idealized childhood. And for me, it was living on, and this era where my dad would pay one of me, or my brother, or sister $0.25 to go to his newspaper. The Denver Post was delivered, and we would get a quarter if we would go to the end of the driveway, which was about 100 yards. And sometimes in the depths of winter, where the drifting snow on the plains where we lived would cause there would be four or five feet of snow. It was real getting to that newspaper, y'all. And all we got was a quarter, right?
Times were tight, apparently, or inflation has brought it up. If I offered my kids a quarter do anything, they wouldn't do it. Maybe Tabasco, I'm not even sure about him. He's my poodle. So when I drove back up that street, I was really excited that I was making this trek until I got to the mailbox. And I didn't feel anything like I hoped I would feel. And I didn't sense any of the warm feelings that I cherished. The house just felt small and felt sad. And someone else was living there, and they had painted it. It wasn't even the right color anymore, to add insult to injury. But we all in some way or another can relate with this idea of nostalgia. But it isn't actually the thing that we're hoping for, the thing that if we could find, it would deliver it for us. I believe it's deeper. I believe it's not nostalgia we feel for something we ever did experience, as much as something that we know with deep intuition and instinct that we were meant to experience.
And it's the idea of home, not the rear view mirror home that's actually better than it seems or the rose-colored glasses view on what was or what you're trying now to make your home life be because it's the childhood you never got. Because some of us ruin our kids trying to give them what we didn't get. And that's a mistake either because we won't get that. And they won't have that either. But what is it? What is driving this deep, rooted, universal sensation? And why is it at the weirdest moments, even when we're facing something beautiful, we can feel just a little hint of sadness? You ever experienced it? When you were staring at something that was so staggering, you should feel happier than you were? I felt it the first time I looked at the Grand Canyon. And I remember standing at the rim, drinking it in, overwhelmed by the beauty, but haunted because I wanted it to do more for me in the moment than it was capable of doing.
I felt it a few months ago, just a twinge of it, this tiny sadness, this melancholy remorse when my wife and I were riding our bicycles through Glacier National Park. And the trees all around us, the sun was setting, the light was so golden, it was like you could almost grab it. And I just felt sad because I knew later that night, the trees would still be there, but I wouldn't be there to see them. And it was just this weird, inexplicable weirdness that I wanted creation to be something that it wasn't. And there was just a stillness and a sadness to it. And I think somewhere along the way, you could relate to feelings that you couldn't explain, a secret that you carried that you wanted life to be what it wasn't in the moment and what it was incapable of being. And that's because you weren't made for this world. You were made for more.
That is the second heading: The Uncharted Destination. Oh, you won't find it on any maps. You won't find it on Google Earth. You won't find it on an atlas. You won't find it on a topographical study of the region. That's because you were made for Heaven, which ultimately, will finally be a version of this earth as it actually was intended to be, as it was before the fall, and as it will be after the return of the King who will renew and restore all things unto themself. And the reason you feel what you feel when you stand looking into a casket at the face of someone you love who has betrayed you by no longer being there for you is because you weren't meant to live in a world where death existed. You weren't meant to live and see yourself decay in front of you in the mirror. You weren't meant to see sadness, rain, and tears fall, and evil run unchecked. And inside of you, it betrays even what you've spoken with your mouth about what you believe about the universe, that somewhere deep inside, you understand that something called Heaven is hard wired onto you on the inside, onto the motherboard of your soul.
In fact, that's what Ecclesiastes chapter 3 says. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us what's moving the needle in our lives, telling us there's more. When Solomon said, "God has made everything beautiful in its time". notice this, "He has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end". The needle in our hearts keeps pointing back to eternity, keeps pointing back to immortality, keeps pointing back to transcendence. And like Einstein, we might try and trick it. And we might try and medicate it. And we might try and numb it. And we might try and write off those feelings we have. And we might eventually just get rid of the guilt by saying, well, there's no God because if there's no God, there's no guilt. But though what we try, the needle still moves. What's moving the needle? His name is Jesus. And you were made to live in a relationship with Him, headed to Heaven. And until those two things click into place, you will always be haunted by the idea that there should be something more.
Paul explained this a little further, what cryptically was found in Ecclesiastes 3, when in Romans 1 he says, "In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, for God has embedded this knowledge inside of every human heart". If you read Romans 1, he goes on to describe how all of creation shouts to us the existence of God. And yet, veiled as it is, we only see a glimpse of what it was meant to be. And when you get to Romans 8, you read about the fact that all of creation is just so angry, and so stifled by decay, and stifled by run-off, and stifled by the pain and atrocities of war and natural disasters, a life because all creation wants to sing to God's glory. Why was I sad riding by those trees? Because I think deep inside my spirit, I'm aware, even without even knowing about it, those trees were meant to praise God vocally. And one day, that's exactly what they're going to do when the trees, and the forests, and the mountains will clap their hands and praise God.
There was a day when creation was alive in a different way than it is today. And it will be those things that will occupy the rest of eternity when Christ comes back, for Heaven is not some cloud and a harp. Heaven is an earth restored to the vibrancy, every bush aflame with the glory of God, animals and natural phenomenon all taking on new meaning. What will the Grand Canyon be like that day when the curse has been removed, and there's no more death, and no more disease, and no more decay? I'm telling you, that's what you were built for. It's to live and serve your King in a perfect place, where you'll get to do so with no insecurity, with no self-loathing, with no sadness, no fear, and never needing to say goodbye. And that's why you think back with such sadness to summer camp. And that's why you think back to holidays with such sadness in your heart because of the goodbyes and because of the things you said that you shouldn't have said.
But to live in a place where that will never happen again: our hearts know this is what we were made for. Why did God do all of this? Acts 17:27, "God did this so that men would seek him, and perhaps reach out for him, and find him, though he is not far from any one of us, from each one of us". Don't you love that God is so good that he refused to let you be fully happy or satisfied with anything that you would experience here on this earth? Heaven is a place where our shoes will never come untied in the middle of a sermon. And that's going to be grand. It's going to be fantastic. It's this uncharted destination inside all of us. So then the goal becomes in this life to stay locked on to that signal, to stay locked on to the true home that we were meant to live for, and to realize and remember that this earth is beautiful, fallen as it is. And there's blessings in it, fallen as it is. And God wants us to enjoy our life here.
Listen, if your life to God was worth saving, your life to you should be worth enjoying. But comfort no longer becomes the highest good. Control no longer becomes the highest good. Because this world as it presently is passing away and one day will be restored to make something brand new, when the world does what Jesus's body did, comes out of the grave brand new and fully alive with immortality abounding. And so if that's the case, and this world that we're living in is not our true home as it is, our quest should be to keep orienting ourselves back towards Heaven because there's so much interference on this planet. There's so much that gets in the way and blocks the signal. And we can be tricked into living just for this world, hoarding possessions here on this world. That's why one of the most powerful ways to keep the compass of your soul, what will move the needle most in our desire to walk with Jesus? What will move the needle the most in our keeping our hearts true on Heaven?
Well, Jesus put it this way in Matthew chapter 6 verse 21, when he said, look at it. "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". Why does God so continually speak to the treasure? Because he knows that nothing moves the needle on your soul like your finances. Invest in a company, what do you do? You care about the company. You'll check it every single day. Almost religiously, you'll be checking how the stock market doing. Why? Because you're treasure's there. Your heart goes where your treasure is. A lot of people talk, I wish I had a greater heart for God. You can actually buy that. It's an amazing thing. Buy a product. You'll track it. UPS, where's it at? It's in Kansas. I like Kansas. Well, why do you care about it? Because you invested in it. And when we invest in the Kingdom, it moves the needle on our love for God and causes us to care about the things of God. And our goal should be to live our lives focused not on this earth, but on Heaven, the chartered destination.
And now there's a connection to where we began. Because like the compass rose at Edwards Air Force Base, as we keep the needle pointing where it's supposed to go in our lives, God's not only going to keep us serving Him, and loving Him, and willing to embrace sacrifice, and willing to embrace discomfort because we'll realize, we'll have this revelation. It doesn't matter what you're walking through. What really matters is where you're going to. It doesn't matter what you're walking through. When you know you're headed somewhere, that makes sense of discomfort. Well, I've got to go over this mountain. That's OK. If I need to get over that mountain to get where I'm going, I'll go over this mountain. But if you're just aimlessly wandering about without purpose and without meaning, then all you'll care about is being comfortable on the trail, being comfortable on trail. And you'll bring more with you into the woods than you can carry.
And now, all of a sudden, you're treating what should just be a two-day base camp as though it's your home, as though it's your destination. And you're living in a place of danger that cannot last and is not reality. But when you know, I'm headed over that mountain. I'm headed to Heaven. This is where I'm going. That's why God saved me. Whatever discomfort I got to face along the way, however light I need to travel to get there, that's acceptable now. So then, the compass of our lives helps us fulfill, third heading, The Great Commission. And if you haven't been around the conversation of scripture for very long, the great commission is code for the marching orders Jesus gave us before he went to Heaven with the promise that he's going to come again, that where He is, we would be forever. And that's what ultimately Heaven looks like. But in the meantime, we've got work to do. Come on, shove your neighbor. Say, we've got work to do. He said, I'm coming back. Until I get there, here's what to do. And if you're a Jesus follower, this should be the most important thing in your life every day. What is it?
It's this (Mark 16:15): "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature". It should be our heart's desire that everyone everywhere, and thank you, Jesus, to the worldwide web, we had the ability to be doing that even now as church online is streaming out in countries all around the world. And people get to be logged on, and making faith decisions, and a part of what God's doing. And we're going to unpack some things in this initiative that will even literally help fulfill this in a greater capacity. But our goal should be everybody getting the gospel. Our goal should be that compass rose getting so big on the ground that people in crisis, lost souls coming from every which way, and however high they are would see the arrow pointing to Jesus. See the arrow pointing to Heaven. That in your life and in my life, we would see hungry people fed. And we would see sick people cared for. And we would see hospitalized people prayed for. And we would be helping people know there is a God. And there is meaning. And there is life. And there is hope to be found in the name of Jesus.
In Luke's gospel, Jesus said we should pray. Look at this. We should pray for more people to see life this way. "The harvest is huge". There's so much work to do. "But the workers are few". Because so many Jesus followers are living like this earth is our home. So we should ask if the Lord of the harvest would send more workers into his harvest field. Field. Field. The area where there's a magnetic force is called a magnetic field. Maybe if we live our lives focused on God's magnetic field, we'll start seeing all of life as a mission field. Missions, what is missions? Isn't that where you raise the money and go to Ethiopia for a month during your vacation? That's missions, absolutely. But maybe that definition of missions has kept us from seeing people all around us as a mission field.
You know what I define missions as? The next person you meet. Because check this out. I got a magnet in my hand. And I borrowed for the sermon illustration a toy from my son, Lennox. It's a little guy with overalls wearing a John Deere cap. These are the hands that built America. And he was OK with me borrowing it because his favorite is this wooden set of passengers and pilot that go in a little airplane. I got from on a trip. And I thought whenever I go off traveling, he can remember what I'm doing with this airplane. And he mostly just likes to scream at the individuals and throw them on the ground, but he's a work in progress. And I glued a magnet on the bottom, and I wanted to show you something pretty cool. If I take another magnet and put it beneath it, a magnet can move a magnet. And what you can know about every single person you'll ever interact with, you ever meet, ever talk to, ever befriend on Facebook, ever get to work alongside is that every one of them has a magnet on the inside.
And there's a needle. And what's moving the needle is the bigger magnet. And his name is Jesus. And God loves that person, cares for that person. And He loves them so much, He put you in their life so you could be a source of life to them. Not judging them, not feeling self-righteous that you're better than them, but that you needed Jesus so much that God sent his love into your heart, and then positioned you to be in their life so you could make a difference for them as well. In World War I, it's estimated that there were 100,000 pigeons that were utilized to communicate back and forth, just in the Allied forces alone. Radio was in its infancy. It had its limitations. And they were really big back then.
It's hard to believe, but just as far back as 1914 when World War I began, a radio was so large, it had to be pulled by a horse to get into position. And it can only reach about 1,000 meters at the most to broadcast a signal, which didn't help you if you needed to get an essential communication a few miles way. Telephone was spotty as well. And so we relied on pigeons, the rats of the sky. Pigeons, 100,000 of them. They say that pigeons had a 95% success rate of getting communication to where it needed to go. And so they had these birds. They had these birds in these cages waiting to have a piece of paper strapped to their foot. And they would fly it to get word of where reinforcements were needed, of where people were in critical condition. And there was, at the very end, just before World War I ended in November of 1918, there was a battalion of United States soldiers that were pinned down in September behind German lines in northern France, desperately in need of help. Because though they started out as 500, tragically 306 of them were cut down, leaving only 194 who realized they were being fired upon with mortars and artillery by their own side. And they were in danger of dying from what we call friendly fire.
And so they strapped up a pigeon to send word, please stop trying to kill us. Instead, come rescue us. The first pigeon was shot down by German sharpshooters, who saw it leaving and knew what they were trying to do with it. The Germans actually kept hawks trained to hunt pigeons so to kill the communication. The second pigeon, same message. Save our skins, SOS. Germans shot that one down too. Finally, they pulled out a bird, a female pigeon named Cher Ami, which means translated in English, dear friend. This pigeon was a gift to the American from the British. And they put the message on this little pigeon's leg. And they sent it out and said, fly home, Cher Ami, fly home. As soon as Cher Ami flew up into the air, a sniper began to shoot at her. From several different directions, bullets began to fly. She took a round through the breast. Another round took one of her legs almost completely off. It was hanging, as she flew, by a single tendon. And another piece of shrapnel, a bullet blinded her in one eye.
And that is when the hawk showed up that began to chase her. But Cher Ami evaded the hawk by flying directly into the sunlight. And the hawk, momentarily blinded as it pursued, lost sight of her. And she was able to duck below and get safely across to bring the communication strapped to her one remaining leg that said where these were. And all 194 American soldiers were rescued because Cher Ami knew what we need to know. That we got to follow our orders and keep sight of what our commanding officer has told us to do. It's the great commission. No matter what comes at us, no matter what comes against us, we got to keep flying and keep going because there are people who need to know what Jesus did for them on the cross and when he rose up out of that grave. Cher Ami, you got to fly home.
You know, that little pigeon received a medal from the French government. But sadly, after just a year from this moment, she lost her life due to what happened to her that day as she flew. The Smithsonian Institute paid for a taxidermist to preserve Cher Ami so that today, if you go to the Smithsonian, you can see her standing there in front of the American flag. One leg, one eye, and yet, she was willing to keep flying. And I believe that's exactly what God has for us. Why? Because if we will focus on Heaven steadfastly, God will use us to help other people get home safely. In Jesus's name. Amen.