It’s not everyday you hear about a battle being delayed so one man can finish his Bible study and prayer time — particularly when it’s a battle that’s critical to the success of the war your country is fighting.
By Adele Nash.
But that’s exactly what happened on 5 May, 1945 on the island of Okinawa. That day was a Saturday, which is the day that people of Private Desmond Doss’s faith — Seventh-day Adventists — set aside as their Sabbath.
The Maeda Escarpment — also known as Hacksaw Ridge — had to be taken, no matter what the cost. The B Company, which was the unit that Doss served with, had come to trust Doss implicitly, having seen how he would go above and beyond to serve his fellow man. Perhaps this is why his request to finish his Bible devotional study before assisting with the assault was granted. B Company’s Captain Vernon personally asked Doss to accompany the group, telling him, “The men would like to have you with them and so would I.”
The Unlikeliest Hero tells the story like this: “I’ll go, captain,” Doss said without hesitation. His Saviour had treated men on the Sabbath, and he could do no less. “But I’d like to finish my Sabbath school lesson first.”*
Doss didn’t know that, by asking to finish his Bible study time, he would hold up a war. But Captain Vernon knew that submitting the request would delay the assault on the ridge. He submitted it anyway. Amazingly, Colonel Hamilton allowed the delay, with the entire American advance in Okinawa waiting for Private Doss to finish his Bible study, which he closed with a quiet prayer.
The Americans went on to capture the ridge that day, and held it for good as the Sabbath closed.
So why is Bible study or devotional time so important?
Setting time aside to study the Bible gives us the benefit of quiet time with God every day. It means that we are also able to get direction for our lives from God — there are Bible verses that will inspire us or guide us, and it gives us an opportunity to ask God for His will to be known for our day. A lot of Christians also see daily devotional time as a strength-training exercise. How does that work? Well, it means we’re prepared for any challenges that lie ahead, knowing we can overcome anything with God’s help. Spending time studying the Bible has the biggest benefit of getting to know Jesus personally. When we meet with Jesus as we study the Bible, we learn more about His character, His endless love for each and every person, and how much he wants to have a life with us.
How do you set aside time to study the Bible? There’s no one way to do it — you can pick a time and place to do it that works for you. If you want to just sit down and read the Bible through, that’s fine. The New Testament is a great place to start. But there are also Bible studies available to help you with your devotional life too.
*Page 119, The Unlikeliest Hero by Booton Hernon (unabridged version).
Image courtesy of Desmond Doss Council.