Why was Todd and Robin's response to Payton's sickness and death so God honoring?
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My dear friend and Christian mentor, Russ Blowers, told this story today, February 11, 2001, as a guest preacher at Hazelwood Christian Church in Indiana:
During WWII, in June 1940, the German army "blitzkrieged" through France, fighting their way toward Northern France - - - - and, in the process, cornering 406,000 British and Allied troops standing on the sands of Dunkirk beach.......The Germans were 12 miles inland and were bombing the beach - - black smoke filled the entire town because of the oil storage depot the Germans had destroyed........ Certain annhilation of the 406,000 Allied troops was imminent.......The troops were disciplined, even with shelling and bombing, there was no panic........They were very impressive......
A final distress call was sent out by the Allied troops on the beach - - - - the message simply said -
AND EVEN IF NOT.............
As a result of the message - - - - - 222 naval vessels and 800 civilian craft (fishing vessels and pleasure craft) of all shapes and sizes, sailed over the English Channel in response to their distress call - - - and thanks to the courage and discipline and improvisation of so these people, over 338,000 of the troops were picked up by these boats and taken back to England - - - and saved from certain destruction......... However, another 68,000 of the British Force were killed, wounded or missing in action.........
"Operation Dynamo", as it was called, was a victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, and is considered by historians a defining moment for the British people at the darkest hour of the Second World War.
What did the distress call, "AND EVEN IF NOT" mean?
Its a biblical reference from the Book of Daniel, Chapter 3:
Here is the story - -
King Nebuchadnezzar (of Babylon, the most powerful nation in the world) made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up.
Then the herald loudly proclaimed, "This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language:
As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.
Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."
Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
At this time some astrologers said, "there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon--Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego--who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up."
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?
Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.
BUT EVEN IF NOT, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed.
He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.
The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?"
They replied, "Certainly, O king."
He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!"
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them.
They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way."
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
BUT EVEN IF NOTwas the key phrase !!!!!
Shadrach, Meshach and Abendigo said God is able to save us, but even if not, we will still trust in Him and Him only !!!!
My friends Todd and Robyn Leyden responded in the exact same way !
They proclaimed in their emails on getwellpayton.com that God is certainly able to fully heal Payton - - - BUT EVEN IF NOT - - we still choose to trust in the sovereign God COMPLETELY and in Him alone......
That is a witness on the same level of Job's response when he said - "Though God slays me - - yet, will I trust in Him."
Job suffered on all levels - physically, mentally, socially and spiritually (for a quick look at the extent of Job's suffering - click here)........ and so did Todd and Robyn - - - and in the midst of their terrible suffering - - they trusted God - - fully - - - despite an indescribable loss.......
A year ago, I fashioned a model response to Christian suffering, based on how I would have liked to respond and continue to respond to trials in my life........ I have failed the model more times than I care to admit, but I believe the Leyden's have responded in a God honoring fashion during their trial - - they are a model response to Christian suffering in my mind AND a tremendous witness to people all over the world - - - especially me .......
Take a look at the model, and if you have witnessed Todd and Robyn's response, either in person, at the funeral or on the website, you will agree that they have honored Jesus Christ, our Savior, and affected every life for Christ they have come in contact with through Payton's story and their response to that story......
I praise God for Todd and Robyn !
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