Levi Lusko - A Lady In The Air
Spitfire fun starts now. We're talking about the plane that saved the world, and in the process, became more than a plane. It became a symbol of triumph. It became a symbol of courage. It galvanized the British people during one of the darkest ordeals in their history, and it allowed common, ordinary, average people to be a part of something they could never do by themselves. And this week's installment, if you have a Bible, we're going to be in 1 Chronicles. That's 1 Chronicles. You might need the table of contents to find her. And the last time anybody turned your attention to the book of 1 Chronicles. But we're going to be in 1 Chronicles chapter 20 for a message that I've called A Lady in the Air. A Lady in the Air. How's that for intriguing?
1 Chronicles 20, here's what we find in the first verse. This is God's word. It says, "In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, Joab led the Israelite army in successful attacks against the land of the Ammonites. In the process, he laid siege to the city of Rabbah, attacking and destroying it. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. Then David went to Rabbah and removed the crown from the king's head, and it was placed on his own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and he found that it weighed 75 pounds. David took a vast amount of plunder from the city. He also made slaves of the people of Rabbah, and he forced them to labor with saws, iron picks and iron axes. This is how David dealt with the people of all the Ammonite towns". And the final phrase we're going to consider, "then David and all the army returned to Jerusalem".
And here in this text, what we read seems like a victorious day. David is this poet warrior king who is constantly going out to battle. For the first time we meet him, he's fighting a bear, he's fighting a lion, he's fighting a giant, he's fighting the giant's brothers. He and his mighty men are going out again and again and again. That's how he won his bride. He was able to defeat Philistines. He was able to take high places. He was able to take cities. And so as we read this passage, now David's got another crown on his head. David's got another gem in his collection. David's got now another notch in his belt. He has done so much fighting on his own strength, fighting on the strength of God. And we see this, and it seems like, just as the parade is ending, it's a wonderful ordeal. He now is 50 years old. Goliath is way back in the rearview mirror. And we're like, man, David, another day.
That's how the text seems to read, but what we just covered amounts to one of the darkest periods in King David's life. For what Chronicles doesn't include that we have to make our way to 2 Samuel 11 to cover, because this is sort of like the chronology, the overview, 2 Samuel 11 tells us that, during the events that we just read here in these three verses, David committed a crime of hot blood. And that crime, that sin was the affair, of course, with Bathsheba. And then there was an event done in cold blood. Where Bathsheba was hot blood, he just got stirred in the moment, it was just bang and it happened, the cold, calculating act of the cover-up was the death of Bathsheba's husband, Uriah the Hittite, who, the Bible tells us, was one of David's mighty men. That might be a detail that you perhaps have not realized, that Uriah was one of David's trusted warriors who had been with him for a long, long time.
So the crime, the cover-up, oh, and then there was an entire year of spiritual deadness, an entire year of David going through the motions, showing up at church, business as usual, everything's all smiles and roses. Meanwhile, there's death inside his heart. He's far from God. He's running. He's back-slidden. And of course, ultimately, fortunately for David, there would be repentance. That's covered in Psalm chapter 51, where, after he is confronted by a friend and God exposes what has happened, he confesses, and he gets restored and gets right. Now, tragically, there will be seeds and weeds from this event that his family deals with for generations, because the things that we don't confront in our own lives, our children will sadly have to.
But to really understand what happened in this dark chapter in David's life, we need to look to a pioneer warrior pilot from World War II named Mary Ellis. Mary Ellis, here she is at 21. Mary Ellis was a pilot in the British Air Transport Auxiliary. The ATA, they called them. She loved flying since she was a little girl. She flew for the first time at age 11, if you could believe it or not, got to fly a plane. And she just, as a teenager, devoted all of her energy and enthusiasm to getting her wings. She got her pilot's license at 21. And then one day, listening to the radio, she heard that there was a call for anybody in Great Britain who knew how to fly. And they appealed specifically to women because most of the men who knew how to fly had already enlisted in World War I and in World War II, and were flying and fighting against the Luftwaffe. The British were doing everything they could against the German Air Force as they were trying to stop the advance of Hitler into England. And so many young men had flown, and so many young men had died, they were saying, we're desperate, and so are there any young women who know how to fly. And she had just gotten her pilot's license, and so she said, I'm willing. I'll do anything for my country.
And so she enlisted. And they formed this band of women in the ATA, this Air Transport Auxiliary, and their primary purpose was to bring new Spitfires from factories to the front lines, because these planes, as they were being churned out, in large part due to funds from the Spitfire funds, they needed to be brought to the pilots who were flying them. And so these women, these courageous women like Mary, were the ones who, the moment a plane was done, they would hop in it and they would bring it to the men. And they would bring planes back that needed repairs. And they were basically taking planes to and fro enemy lines. It was an extremely dangerous job. They would fly as many as five missions a day. They would go through atrocious weather conditions. And by the end of the war, the casualty rate for the ATA was 1 out of 10. 1 out of 10 would die who flew this job, bringing planes back and forth, which was nearly as high as it was for fighter command for the Royal Air Force.
Incredibly, Mary and her other girls in the ATA, though they dealt with, of course, the sexism, since they were ATA, they were nicknamed the attagirls, and they would say attagirl when they came with the new plane. But they also were a part of breaking glass ceilings, as these girls, these incredible pilots, these courageous women were the first in all of Britain to achieve not just equal work, but equal pay for what they did. And they also pioneered lots of different things. Like they said, hey, we're jumping in and out of planes. We can't be wearing skirts. The uniform for the ATA was skirts. They said, we're going to wear trousers, thank you very much. Absolutely incredible. Mary, who we just saw a moment ago, she flew 1,000 different planes throughout her time serving in the ATA, including 400 different Spitfires.
Now, Mary tragically passed away in 2018. I say tragically, but she lived to the incredible age of 101. And here she is near the end of her life, when she was allowed to once again stand next to a Spitfire airplane, one of the existing Spitfire airplanes that actually flew in World War II. This particular plane, you can see this pile of swastikas. Every swastika stands for a plane in the German Luftwaffe that the pilot of this plane successfully shot down. So you see all those swastikas. Have you ever heard the term ace, someone's an ace pilot? You've got to be an ace pilot when you have shot down five aircrafts. So this pilot was an ace and then some. So Mary got to, and there's actually footage you can see of when she stood there and they brought this plane in, her emotion as she touched it, as this was one of the planes that she had helped deliver and brought to and fro. Absolutely incredible. Come on, let's hear it for Mary Ellis of the Air Transport Auxiliary. This girl is an absolute legend, in my opinion.
Now, the reason I brought Mary into the equation and the light that she's going to shed on King David's situation is a statement that she made when I was watching video footage of the day that she got brought in. She was talking about what it was like to fly a Spitfire. And she said something that I want to read to you. This is a quote from her mouth. She said, "the Spitfire was a lady in the air, but a witch on the ground". And you'll notice there's an asterisk on the word witch. And I'm going to let you in on a little secret, that's not the word she used. But this is church, y'all, so you can just, in your own head, as I say the quote one more time, imagine what she actually said, because with her British accent, her voice kind of quaking, she said, "the Spitfire was a lady in the air, but a witch on the ground," OK? What was she saying?
She was saying, and it's something that is very evident if you watch footage of the Spitfire on the ground, which we have here, this is what it looked like when the Spitfire drove around. Because of its very narrow undercarriage, it was absolutely horrible to drive. It was awful to land. You just felt precarious, especially if there are winds. It just was wobbly. I mean, you can imagine, if you're standing with your legs spread apart, you feel pretty good. But if you get like this, I mean, it's easy to knock over. And that's what the Spitfire was. Because of how it was built, of necessity, these wheels were not super spread apart. And by the way, there's Peter Bottomley's little rear tire, by the way, from last week we talked about. That's what he paid for. I love that so much. But it was just not a pleasant thing to drive a Spitfire. She was a witch on the ground. She was not fun to drive is the point. But she was a lady in the air. She was a delight to fly. And that's what the Spitfire was meant for. The Spitfire was never intended to be driven. It was never meant to be something you would rent to go on a family vacation.
Come on, everybody, let's pile into the Spitfire and let's drive on a vacation. This is not a pleasure cruise type of vehicle. Spitfires weren't meant for the ground, they were built to fly. And so were you. You were never intended to drive. You and I were never intended to be driving around with our narrow undercarriage. We were meant to fly. We were meant to soar. Here's my sermon in a sentence. You were built for battle. You were intended to be a part of a mission. God put you together to fly with wings like an eagle. God intended you to soar, a lady in the air. That's God's plan for your life. And that's what went wrong in David's life in 1 Chronicles chapter 20. And I've got three things I want you to write down, three important things that we need to understand. We need to see, first of all, in this text there's necessary downtime. That's the first thing I need you to understand. The problem wasn't that David took the winter off. The problem was that David didn't re-engage come springtime.
You see, because the text says, "in the time of the year that the kings go out to battle, David remained in Jerusalem". In the time of the year, the spring of the year. The actual words in the Hebrews say "in the return of the year". The idea is it's now, once again, time when you can resume fighting. The year has returned. It's OK to fight again. It's now time to resume these activities. It was not realistic for them to be doing it all the time. And guess what? For you and for me, it is unrealistic for us to be doing anything all the time. The Bible says in the Book of Ecclesiastes, "there's a time to sow and a time to reap. There's a time to tear, there's a time to mend. There's a time to laugh, there's a time to cry". What's the point? God has built this world with rhythms. He's built this world with rhythms. He's built this year with seasons. There's seed time and harvest, there's summer and winter. And to the degree that you understand seasons, you can lean into them and not be crushed by them.
For some of you, you've made the mistake of building your sandcastles too close to the waves, and they keep getting destroyed. And you keep getting frustrated, and you don't understand why. It's because you're not understanding the ebb and the flow, the moon's phases, the life's phases, the phase of your body, the seasons of life, the seasons of a year, the rhythms of life. And we talk in this house a lot about the rhythms of giving. We're not always in a campaign where we're raising. We're not always in a campaign where... sometimes there's a time for funding. Sometimes there's a time for blessing. Sometimes there's a time for building. And so what we have to understand is there's rhythms to life. David rightly told the men, hey, let's go back to Jerusalem. Let's figure out what shields need to be repaired. Let's rest for a little bit. If you're always keeping the bow bent, it's going to break, baby girl. You've got to rest things. You've got to oil the string. We've got figure out. We've got to assess. We've got to think. We've got to plan. This is your responsibility.
Your soul is your responsibility. No one's going to take care of your soul for you. No one can eat for you. No one can pray for you. No one can fast for you. No one can dream for you. No one can say, hey, time out here. And no one's going to say no to certain things for you, as you get invited to things, as you get asked to participate in things. You can say yes just as well as you can say no. It's important for you to understand how necessary downtime is. The Bible says in Psalm 127, "it is vain for you to rise up early and to sit up late, for so he gives his beloved sleep". We need to understand in life that recharging is critical. It's crucial. People talk about what would Jesus do. You know what he did? He rested. He often got away. He often recharged his soul. He got away with his disciples. He got away by himself. He would send them away. Y'all are driving me nuts, I need some alone time. He's shutting that door. He's spending some time alone. You guys get on that boat. I'll hang out with you later. I'll come walking on water. You will not be able to miss me. But he was going to refuel himself.
I believe that, when the things that we try and do for God aren't fueled by time we spend with God, we will inevitably begin to act like we are God. So we need to get alone. We need to get to a quiet place. You need to put the necessary boundaries in place. And one of those things is called the Sabbath. It's that day where you recharge. It's that day where you turn your phone off. It's that day where you delight. It's family time. It's date night. It's worship together first day of the week. It's, hey, this week is going to be crazy, I need to worship God. This is I got paid, so my first and my best 10% is going to God because I want His blessing on the rest. Things are crazy. I want my heart tethered. This is necessary downtime. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, a rhythm of rest. I want you to understand rhythms. I want you to start thinking in term of seasons. If you haven't opened up a retirement account, if you don't have life insurance, you're in the summer of your life now. You're only going to have in the winter of life what you put into those accounts, what you put into that place in the summer of your life.
Consider the ants. They have in winter what they laid aside in summer. This is incredibly important. There's a necessity, and that necessity is called downtime. We can learn it from David here. It's the only thing I'm telling you to learn from David in this chapter, OK? There's affairs, there's murder, there's lies. This is terrible, David, all right? We learned at least something. We found the positive, all right? Secondly of three, I see in this text disastrous complacency. Disastrous complacency. You see, David here was in the season of rest, and he assessed his situation, and he saw the weather forecast, and spring was going to be slow to spring, and so he's like, I don't want to go to battle. I'm tired. I'm loving life on the palace. I'm loving life here. The problem for David wasn't that he rested, the problem was that he made rest his new normal. He decided, the text says, to send someone to do for him what he was called to do for himself.
Did you know that there are battles that no one can fight for you? I just told you that a moment ago. Teddy Roosevelt is one of my heroes, and one of the reasons, he always wanted to be strong and to be a soldier one day. One of the reasons he went to Cuba to fight the Spanish American War as a volunteer was because, when he was a child, he saw his father, who he nicknamed Greatheart, him and his kids nicknamed him Greatheart, do something that, in his estimation, was the only unbrave thing his father ever did. And that was he paid someone to go to battle for him. When the draft happened for the Civil War, his father, being from the North, was supposed to go fight for the North. But because his mom, Teddy's mom and Greatheart's wife, was from the South, she begged him not to take up arms against her countrymen. And so in that day, you could pay a proxy. He paid someone to go fight in his stead, and regretted it for the rest of his life.
That was David's decision here in this moment. He, in the time of year that kings go to battle, should be going to battle. But he sent Joab in his stead. He sent Joab as his proxy. David, meanwhile, kept his pajamas on and was chilling on the palace and lounging. 2 Samuel 11 tells us he was taking long and leisure naps. Nothing wrong with a nap, unless you just went through a whole winter of napping and you got the rest for something. Just as it's a mistake to always be doing so many things on your Sabbath day and always be doing so many things in your evening and always watching Netflix when you should be sleeping and always drinking Coke when you should be drinking water and you see what I'm saying? Always be listening to podcasts when you should be praying. Hello, there's a thought. Guess what Joe Rogan can't do? Get you into heaven. Hello. So yeah, he's great, I get it, but you need Jesus. But it's just, as well, a mistake when you should be going out to stay back in. Disastrous complacency. For you were meant to be the lady in the air.
Your Spitfire soul was never meant to be stuck on the ground. And here's David cruising along the tarmac, and here's David driving around the country, and here's David with a pina colada when he should be fighting. Here's David when he should have the sword in his hand, but instead he's got bunny slippers on his feet and some sleep in his eye. Here's David. He should be in the military camps with his men. Here's David. He should be advancing the cause of God and the mission of God in the world, establishing this glorious empire that was all about bringing Jesus into the world, the Savior of all mankind, the light of the world. David's going to have someone sit on his throne forever and establish the glorious covenant. He should be thinking about the kingdom. He should be thinking about others. But his mind is stuck on himself. I deserve this. I've done so much for God. Right? That's the talk of victimhood. That's the talk of self-pity. That's, well, I've done a lot. Other people can do a little bit. I sacrificed before. I gave to a previous campaign. Someone else can do that. Someone else can shoulder a little bit of this responsibility. I've paid my dues is, sadly, what David is thinking.
And that drove him to disastrous complacency. You and I were made in the image of God. And as such, we're always meant to reflect that image. Who is God? Well, one of the things that God is, Exodus 15 tells us, is God is a warrior. The Lord is a warrior. The Lord is His name. So if God is a warrior and we're made in His image, there's meant to be a warrior spirit in us. There's meant to be the spirit of a Spitfire in us. There's meant to be that spirit of triumph in us. There's meant to be that strength of God in us. And you see that in children. You see that adventure. You see that love. We're meant to be more like that, in many ways. My son Lennox, when he was two years old, he turned a waffle into a gun. No one has to tell a child that things are supposed to be epic. No one's to tell a child there's not beauty and romance and battles that need to be fought, and life's this grand adventure. That's from God. The Lord is a warrior. That's why Lennox chewed his waffle into a gun and was running around the house attacking bad guys with his Eggo waffle, right? Because the Lord is a warrior, and that image is in us. It's hardwired into who we are.
There's the warrior spirit. Life's not meant to be tame. Life's not meant to be a perpetual vacation. That's a Corona commercial, but that's a disaster if your life. That's great for 10 days. That's a horrible way to... I just want to golf all the time, and I just want to lie in a pool chair. That will erode your soul, for your soul cries out for adventure, for a cause, for a mission. You weren't meant for the ground, you were built for the air, a lady in the air. That's what's going on. Your heart's clamoring and crying out for love. Give me injustice to fight. So your heart is suffocating in just looking at how your stocks are doing and how your 401(k) is performing. You're absolutely meant for more. You were built for the mission of God. When you're deprived of what your soul craves, you turn into Free Willy. Come on. All of God's people said... We turned into Free Willy. Why? Because we're meant to climb the next mountain. We're meant to see what's beyond the next vista. We're meant to crave what's around the next riverbend. We're always meant to be in this mode of further up and further in.
The best is yet to come. New wine, new wine. He always saves the new wine for the end of the feast. So if you're not dead, God's not done. There's more to do. There's more to reach. There's more to build. There's land to take. There's things to learn. There's songs to write. There's stories to be told, always and forever. We are not meant to retire from serving God. We are meant to die. And when life allows for you to retire from a career, that should be even more time to pour yourself into the next generation and into the kingdom of God and more discretionary bandwidth to be telling the next generation the things of God, and serving Him and pouring yourself into work in a different way, in a different mode, in a different season.
In 1924, George Mallory was asked why, why do you want to climb Mt. Everest? And he would die, by the way. His remains are still on Mt. Everest. And his response just stirs me to the core. He said, because it's there. Why would you climb this tallest mountain in the world? Why would you risk that? Why would you go there? He said, because it's there. And that's the image of God inside his heart saying, it's there, so it must be climbed. God put that inside of you. I don't know what gifts you have. I don't know what the Spirit specifically has called you to do, what your mission is, what that's going to look like for you. But regardless of what we're all called to do outside of the house in the world, inside of the house, we're called to build. Inside of the house, we're called to see it become a thing that can reach more people, extend to more places, and touch more hearts that are hungry for hope with the message of the good news that's found in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And that resonates with us all. You cannot help but admit, inside of you, there's a craving for meaning, for immortality.
It's why people put their names on buildings and they want to see libraries named after... there's a longing for immortality. And that's what we get in focusing on pouring our lives out into the kingdom, for the Church is the only institution that will be in eternity, that will outlive all of us, what we do that will touch men's souls and women's souls and reach boys and girls with hope and help. This will ring on forever. And it's a simple way to think about what David's mistake was here. For the enemy who is always trying to devour us, for the enemy who's always trying to keep us back from our God-given destiny, it's much easier for him to hit a target that's not moving. When you're sitting still, it's so much easier for him to take you out. One of the things that Spitfire pilots said is you never flew it straight and steady for more than like five seconds. They were always moving, they were always changing, because it was the plane that you didn't see that would take you out. They said it would be the Messerschmitt 109 that you never knew was there they would be ready to pounce upon you.
So you're always zigzagging, you just never went straight and steady. You were always moving. So David's mistake here is he's standing still. He should have rested, recharged, replenished. All right, I got my rhythm of rest. Now, it's a time to go back out. It's a time to advance once again. It's a time to step out in faith. It's a time to get out there with the men and give them an example of integrity, and tell them the story one more time of Goliath because there's a new kid who's coming up who doesn't even know Goliath anymore. So that story needs to be told, the stories of old. That's why you hear me talk about here's what it was like when we had 14 people. I'm telling my kids, this is what it was like when we started the church and our staff was, well, mostly just Eric, right? It was like, this is what the team was. And Kevin came a little later. This is the good old days. These are stories that need to be told. This is how God built this team. This is how God touched the world, but He started small. It started with a few people sacrificially giving. And more people on the way have come alongside who have sacrificially stepped out in faith, as well. David became a static target.
Church has a protection and purpose. There's a protection when you're pouring yourself out in purpose, it keeps you from just sitting around ready to fall into temptation. That old thing your grandma used to tell you is true. Idle hands are the devil's handiwork. Don't let your days and your weeks just be full of a meh, right? Pour yourself out. Find ways to serve. Talk to your campus pastor. Get involved with the online things that we're doing. Be a part of those online chats. Be a part finding ways to mobilize in your city, serving the outreach partners that we've aligned ourselves with, making a difference. Find a way. Get into a Fresh Life group, and then get into another one if that one doesn't take, if you get weird people in it. And if you don't find a weird person in your group, you're probably the weird person. That's all right. Moses didn't find God at the grocery store. He met him in the wilderness. In the wilderness, it was unpredictable. Jacob, when he has named changed and encountered God, he was on a camping trip. It was out in the wild. It was out in the unknown. Abraham received righteousness from God under the stars.
So don't live your life only indoors. Get outside. Take walks. Be out amongst places. Ask God to fill you with his spirit. Let there be necessary downtime, but watch out for disastrous complacency. It's the call of the wild. As I think about Paul's letters, I think about like the letter he wrote to the church at Philippi, a letter about joy, a letter about rejoicing, a letter where there's a few little things he needed to correct, are fighting, all right, there's always going to happen, but for the most part, he's encouraging their faith. He's building them up. Then I think about the letter that Paul had to write to the Church at Corinth. Dudes be sleeping with their mother in-laws and stuff. And he's like, yeah, we don't do that, right? That's not OK. Ah, the things he had to tell them, and the discord and the division. And I also find it interesting that, to the Corinthians, he actually said, I've robbed other churches because other churches I started in the past have paid the bill for what ministry is happening here. I've robbed other churches because you're not supporting this work, so other churches have stepped in and paid your freight. And to the Philippian church, he commended them as being such a giving church that they gave to the point of poverty.
It's one of my favorite passages in the Bible. He said to the Corinthians, bragging on the church in Macedonia, the Philippians and others, for even during a season of severe difficulty and tremendous suffering, they became even more filled with joy. From the depths of their extreme poverty, super abundant joy overflowed into an act of extravagant generosity, for I can verify that they spontaneously gave not only according to their means, but far beyond what they could afford. They actually begged us for the privilege of sharing in this ministry, in Corinth, of giving to God's holy people who are living in poverty. How incredible is it? And then they're taking offerings for Jerusalem, they're taking up offerings for everything. Everywhere Paul's going, they're sending somebody like, hey, we got more money. Who's that from? The Philippines. Like, they're friggin' on welfare, what's happening here? How are they, right? And he's confused, when in Corinth, there's luxury, in Corinth, there's abundance.
And you know what they are? They're sitting there as a yacht club. They're wanting their church to be a bless me club. They want the church to be what's in it for me, what programs do you offer for my children, what amenities do you have here at this church, for my family, with their like bubble cigar or bubble pipe. Lots of bubbles. Bubble mower. They were doing nothing except sitting around being chewed up by the enemy because they weren't putting themselves out there, they weren't a generous church, they weren't scrappy and wanting the world to be touched. They ended up infighting. They were a Spitfire on the ground. Eight machine guns, but no one in sight for them to do anything with them, because they haven't gone over enemy lines. They're not taking ground. They're not reaching out. They were a church that was meant to fly, but they were landlocked. Kings become fools when they stop going out to battle is the lesson. A disastrous complacency.
Third and finally, there's some good news. This text also teaches us that there's something called glorious discomfort. I preached this whole sermon just to get to this part. I want to encourage you to see discomfort as something that's glorious. And that's what David was meant to be, uncomfortable. The point of it is that he was meant to stay in a state of discomfort. When he was out on the battlefield, you know what there wasn't? A hot tub. When he was out on the battlefield, you know what there wasn't? His plush bed with 300 thread count sheets. You know what there wasn't? His private chef, his butler. You know what there was? His armor. You know what there was? His sword. You know what there was? His men. You know what there was? A latrine. He was meant to, every year, get back into that mode. He was meant to stay scrappy, because out there, he had to trust God. He was cold. He was reminded of where he came from. He was reminded of what it was like to be a shepherd boy. He was reminded that this wasn't about him, this was about a mission of God in the world. This was about I'm just this shepherd kid. That's right. That's my roots. I'm meant to be hungry. I meant to have some fight in the tank. I meant to remember we're taking some ground. I'm remembering I've got to unite with my mighty men once again.
There's something glorious about discomfort. Spitfire pilots talk about how horrible the planes were. Oh, I've read hundreds and hundreds of pages, accounts of pilots about what it was like to fly a Spitfire plane. Listen, they were not pressurized, they were not properly sealed, and they had no heater. Now, if you can imagine flying above the English Channel, these cold winds, at 35,000 feet in an unpressurized airplane with no heater, if you think frigid comes to mind, you're close to correct. It was down to negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit in these planes at times. I mean, so cold that they would absolutely be dealing with Arctic conditions, bone-chillingly cold. They could not wear the big, bulky flight suits many of the pilots wore because the plane's cockpit was so cramped, and so they had to turn sideways to get their shoulders in. Then, they would wedge themselves into these things. I mean, so they couldn't wear the big, heavy flight jackets, so they did absolutely all that they could. They would wear like wool underwear. Pilots would talk about like stealing their grandmother's leather, like, pantyhose, just anything else I can get on, just small stuff, but that would add any warmth.
I mean, it was unbelievable. They had electric gloves, which was so they could have any mobility in their fingers. They would plug these gloves, and they would actually provide them a little bit of heat just so they could keep their hands moving at all. But O2 was brought to their masks so they would keep breathing and not die flying at the high rate that they were. But the tragedy was that their perspiration and their breathing would cause humidity to build up in these lines, they would freeze. So they would have to squeeze them, and icicles would shoot up into their faces while they were flying. So if you can imagine, you're freezing, you're chattering cold, and the only thing that's keeping you alive is shooting icicles into your face. Oh, the g-forces were so strong, many pilots developed hemorrhoids just from the pulling of the g-forces as they would do these dives at 400 miles per hour from 35,000 feet, agile moving, so literally, the effect on their body would squeeze the insides out, they were going so fast. Many pilots developed something called Spitfire knuckles, which was when you would start the plane, it had to be cranked, but your knuckles would rasp on the engine. And so they all had bloody knuckles from just starting these planes up.
So if you're keeping track, we're talking about hands and feet, and we're talking about hemorrhoids, we're talking about knuckles bleeding, we're talking about all of these horrible things. Oh, by the way, when they would land, then they said the worst part wasn't being cold, the worst part was when you got warm again. They would get so cold that, when the blood would start to flow when they landed and got out of the plane, it was not uncommon to find a pilot on the ground in the fetal position, writhing from the agony of the warmth coming back into their body. It's literally torture. I've read that, in situations where interrogations use cold and that sort of thing, the actual worst thing you can do is bring warm back, because it gives hope. And so that's when they actually scream the most. So it's literal torture that they're dealing with. And yet, in interview after interview after interview from Spitfire pilots, the common phrase used more than any other to describe what it was like to fly this plane is they used, and I quote, the phrase it was a love affair.
Flying this plane was an absolute love affair because it was the closest, they said, to actually flying yourself. Because it was so small, you didn't really feel like you were getting into it, you felt like you were strapping wings onto your back. They said to think was to move, to think was to ascend. You would blink, and you'd be at 10,000 feet. It was like a knife cutting through butter, the way you would fly through the clouds. So they would talk about this craft that had such difficulty, that brought so much physical discomfort, that brought so much pain, they said, no, man and machine became one. It was not a plane, someone said, it was a love affair. One pilot said it was love at first flight.
I read the interview of one man, Officer James Goodson from the 43 Squadron. He said, once you got used to the Spitfire, of course you loved it. It became a part of you. It was like pulling on a tight pair of jeans. James, you are speaking my love language. He said, it was a delight to fly. What are we talking about? We're talking about glorious discomfort. We're talking about I don't even notice my fingers are dripping blood, I don't even notice that I just got another hemorrhoid, I don't even notice that I'm freezing and writhing in agony on the ground. What do you have to say? It was a love affair. I loved it. I was born to fly. I'm doing what I was called to do. I can't believe I get to do this. I can't believe I get to soar. This is why Mary Ellis is weeping as she gets to touch these elliptical wings once again, because it was a delight for her to fly this thing. She didn't notice it was uncomfortable. That's what we were born for. We were meant to fight, to advance.
And yes, it's difficult, and yes, there's going to be hardships along the way, and yes, Paul said, I got beaten, and yes, I got lied about, and yes, I got betrayed, and yes, building the church is going to be difficulty, and we've got to sacrifice, and there's going to be setbacks. And yet, it's a delight to fly. It's love at first flight. When we're doing what God called us to do, when we're hearing the stories of life change, the fact that we got to open up a church in a prison, the fact that we get to use Facebook to send the gospel to the ends of the world, to one person telling us on Youtube, I gave my life to Jesus, one person telling us I watched a message from the archive and it saved my marriage, one person saying I was spared the heartache from divorce, my kids aren't having to have that be a part of their story, I'm telling you, I don't mind the bloody knuckles, I don't mind the sleepless nights, I don't mind the difficulty, I don't mind the sacrifice.
It's love at first flight because we were born to fly. We were meant to be a lady in the air. We weren't meant to be a Spitfire on the ground, chugging along with our narrow undercarriage, focused only on ourselves. We were built for more. And as you look back on your deathbed on a life of sacrifice, a life poured out for the kingdom, a life enduring the hardships that are going to happen along the way, you will look at those things as glorious discomfort. Now, I think this, you'll agree with me, is a very different picture from the somewhat anemic, weak, decaffeinated picture that some of us have been raised in and come to understand as to what it means to follow Jesus. And even like the way we've all kind of been a little bit revolted by the idea of being the bride of Christ, because we don't think of that warrior spirit. We don't think of He-Man, of She-Woman. We're not thinking of that, but that's what it means to follow Jesus, who's the lion of the tribe of Judah.
In fact, Jesus and this whole idea of being the bride of Christ and us being his bride, in Revelation, when we're given the most clear picture of the wedding supper of the Lamb, and having been this wedding feast, we're given this unbelievable, glorious picture of the bride of Christ being given to Jesus to be in a relationship with him in a new world forever, to explore and to do all that he's called us to do. And here's the picture from Revelation 19. "I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice, he judges and wages war. His eyes are like a blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but himself".
Now here's where you get to see yourself in the story. "He's dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the word of God. The armies of heaven followed him", come on, somebody, "riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean". This is us, a lady in the air. Warrior sons and daughters of the king of kings meant to take our place, because the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent must take it by force. Yes, there's going to be difficulties. Yes, there's going to be hardships. But it's all worth it because we were made in the image of a warrior God. We were redeemed by the lion of the tribe of Judah, who died as a lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. And our destiny, our birthright, the call of God on every one of our lives is to take our place as the Spitfires we were born to be. Born for battle. And so the rhythms of rest, but then we surge out once again in church.
It's our time now to surge once again. It's not time to remain in the palace. The need is great. It's time for us to advance the cause of Christ in the world. It's time for us to shine a light. And so that's why I say we should take a step of faith. That's why I'm saying, on December 6th, we should all mobilize and say, what can we do? How can we get gloriously uncomfortable for the cross of Christ? One of my favorite quotes that's motivated me since I was a young Christian was something J. Hudson Taylor said. He said that, unless there's an element of faith in our exploits for God, there shall be no need for faith. Risk, stepping out into the uncomfortable, strapping on that Spitfire and dealing with all the hardships of it and flying it.
I'm asking myself, what would a gift look like that would require faith for me? And that's the important question, because I don't have to have the faith that's going to take to give your gift, because giving your gift might not require faith for me, or giving your gift would be impossible for me. And I'm not asking you to give a gift that would take faith for me. I'm just saying, as all of us give our gift on December 6th, would we all honor God by giving a gift that takes faith for us? That's us stepping out into the unknown, that's us getting uncomfortable once again. All throughout 2018, I had a quote written down that stirred me and stirred me and stirred me. It stirred me as we got to the year end in 2018 and we, as a church, gave our compass rose offering.
And there were some things I was battling through, difficulties I was facing. And it continued to stir me throughout 2019, as we moved towards the 2020 offering, all of the kings going out to battle once again. It has been on my heart, and God reminded me of it this week as I was preparing this message. And it's the perfect place for us to, if you'll excuse the expression, to land this plane. And here's what it says. It's by a poet. And this poet's name is Robinson Jeffers. And he said, "in pleasant peace and security, how quickly the soul in a man begins to die". This means war.
In Jesus' name, Father, we thank you for calling us by your name, for calling us to your cause, for calling us to fight the battle that you are engaged in, the battle for the souls of the women and men, boys and girls that you love and you created, and that we would build a church. The dream of Fresh Life has always been, will always be to see people stranded in sin find life and liberty in Christ. We want to care about what you care for. We want to be your warrior people. I pray for you to stir again in us once again. A desire to step out in faith, a desire to go all in, a desire to trust you. I pray your people would be motivated by the faith that we know it's going to take to please you. You said, without faith, it's impossible to please you. So I pray, God, that we would rise up in faith.
And as we're praying, I recognize this message may have touched a part of you, touched your heart in a deep way, and you would just say, man, I'm kind of stuck in a stagnant mode right now. I feel complacent. I feel like I'm in cruise control. I feel like I'm kind of going through the motions. I just feel blah. I used to really be walking with God and sense him, and things have just gotten, I've allowed this pandemic to just kind of, like my diet's shot, my exercise routine's shot. Maybe you'd say your spiritual rhythms, as well. This is just a time to nail down you responding to God in this moment. You just would say, I want to be like David rising up in battle, not David staying at home. And if that's you I'm describing all across the church, just raise up your hand, if you just would say I hear God in some way in my life calling me to just rise up again. I just feel specifically that might be for some of you just even just what you're watching, what you're eating, what you're reading. Just a chance for you to say, no, I'm going to go out to battle. I'm going to rise up. I want to shake off this lethargy. God's calling you to not backslide.
If you're not moving forward, you're automatically sliding backwards. It's a time to surge again. It's a time to rise up again. It's a time to shake ourselves and to get after it, because this life is racing by. If that's you I'm describing, just with your hand raised, let me pray for you. Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters. I thank you that it takes us seeing our true condition to move forward to a better place. So I thank you today. You've opened some of our eyes to see God that even maybe, in some of our marriages, we're cruising for a bruising. We've opened ourselves up to temptation in ways that we didn't even realize. So I thank you, Father, that you've alerted us to see that there is an enemy who wants to destroy us. He wants to ruin our reputation. He wants to snatch our integrity away from us. He wants our lives to give the enemies of God reason to blaspheme.
And I pray Father, that you would help us to see that we need to constantly be rekindling the fires of revival, to blowing on the coals, to be fanning and the flame the work of God in our hearts. We can't rely on what happened when we went to that Promisekeepers back in the '80s or in the '90s, when we were really following Jesus. It has to always be today. It has to always be right now. Help us to just be moving and active, God, responding to the wind of your Holy Spirit blowing through our midst. Thank you that you're trying to do something in the present tense. Your name is I am, not I was. I am. We want to walk with you, Jesus, today. Thank you.
God bless these who are responding. Help them to go in the power of this word, walking in faith, not by sight. If you're here today, as we close this prayer out, and you've never yet said yes to Jesus, you've never opened your life up to his saving touch, the Bible says, God loves you and can come into your heart if you would believe in him. That's what John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that whoever would believe in him will not perish, but have everlasting life".
If you believe in him, you can be saved, you can have the promise of heaven, and you can have participation in God's great commission, his plan to reach this world. But it starts with you opening your heart up and letting Jesus come in and sit on the throne inside your heart. The king that David wasn't in this story, Jesus will never be. Jesus will never fail you. Jesus will never let you down. David here shows us an imperfect picture of a king, but Jesus is the true king. Let him come into your heart. Let him be your savior. Let him be your Lord. Here's how you do it. You just trust him. You ask in faith, you believe, and you receive. You could just say this prayer with me right now. And I'm going to ask our church family to say it with us. Say:
Dear God, I know I'm a sinner, I can't fix myself, but I believe you can. I surrender my soul to you. Come into my life. I give it to you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.