Philippians 3:20-21 - But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.
Raymond Haerry was 19 years old when the Japanese planes appeared over the skies of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. When the bombs started falling and the torpedoes were launched it didn't take too long for Haerry to run to an anti-aircraft gun. He was frustrated to find the weapon was not operational.
Before Haerry could come up with a plan B, the ship was split apart when a bomb hit one of the powder magazines. The USS Arizona quickly went down, taking with it 1,177 of his fellow shipmates. Haerry was thrown into the burning, oily water. He survived that day and spent the next days helping to recover the bodies.
Haerry survived the war and lived to the age of 94.
It was always his intention to return to Pearl Harbor and visit the USS Arizona Memorial. Sadly, like many good intentions, it was never fulfilled -- at least while he was alive. In death, well, in death, that is another matter. You see, as a survivor of the Arizona, Haerry is accorded the opportunity -- and the honor -- of being buried with his comrades.
That is how, last month, 100 people gathered to pay their final respects to the sailor, and a team of divers delivered his cremains to the battleship's turret No. 3.
Daniel Martinez, the Chief Historian of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, said that Haerry has "returned to his ship and his shipmates." Martinez continued, "Even in the last days of his life, (Haerry) decided he was going home, going home to the USS Arizona.
I can understand why Haerry would feel the way he did. When you live with, suffer with, and almost die with longtime comrades, there is a very special relationship. It is the kind of relationship which is made more poignant and powerful with the passing of the years and the decades.
Yes, I can understand what Martinez was saying, but I also disagree with his final words.
While the earthly remains of the seaman may have been delivered to a place of honor and respect, he is not there. His eternal soul, the part of him for which Jesus suffered and died is not encased in the remains of a ship at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.
On the contrary, when the old mariner breathed his last in this world, if he had been a follower of the Christ, he would have truly gone home -- home to heaven. Indeed, all believers have their citizenship in heaven, and there we have a reunion not just with those who have sacrificed their lives for earthly freedom, we have a reunion with the Savior whose life was the price which was paid for our eternal salvation.
As the hymn writer said, "Heaven Is My Home."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the time will come when I will be going home. Grant me a faith which is grateful to the Savior for offering His life so that heaven might be my home and all the fellow-redeemed my comrades. In the Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Today's devotion was written b written by Linda Hervieux for Newser on April 17, 2017. The website which serves as the parent for this devotion can be found by clicking here
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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