deployment devotional, military devotional, military couples devotional, military couples

A devotional to help military families stay connected during deployments

Day 20: During Deployment “Love is Jesus Christ”

While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5:6

It is our prayer that you gave strong consideration to the dare for Day 19 and gave your heart and life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. If you did, then the verses quoted from 1 John 4 will come alive for you. “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.” (vs. 15) This is a time for rejoicing, for salvation is of God Who gives freedom from the enslavement and penalty of sin through His forgiveness—and peace for your soul because of that redemption. I like to use the word “rescue.”  As a result, “since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (vs. 11)

One soldier who made this decision for Christ on June 8, 1944, was Sgt. Jake DeShazer. Sgt. DeShazer was a crew member of the Doolittle Raiders who was captured by the Japanese Army after bailing out of his plane over enemy territory in 1942. He spent 40 months in captivity, 34 months of it in solitary confinement, and was the victim of cruel torture and starvation. In his own words, DeShazer said, “My hatred for the enemy nearly drove me crazy. . . My thoughts turned toward what I heard about Christianity changing hatred between human beings into real brotherly love and I was gripped with a strange longing to examine the Christian’s Bible to see if I could find the secret. I begged my captors to get a Bible for me. At last, in the month of May, 1944, a guard brought me the book, but told me I could have it only for three weeks. I eagerly began to read its pages. Chapter after chapter gripped my heart.”

It was on that date in June that DeShazer took the words of Romans 10:9,10 and responded: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Even though he remained in prison for more than a year, he was freed from unforgiveness and hatred—free to love.

He wrote the following in a post-war tract, “I Was a Prisoner of Japan”: “How my heart rejoiced in my newness of spiritual life, even though my body was suffering so terribly from the physical beatings and lack of food! But suddenly I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes and that when I looked at the enemy officers and guards who had starved and beaten my companions and me so cruelly, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity.”

Physical freedom came for DeShazer and other prisoners-of-war in August, 1945. He returned to his home in Oregon, began seminary training shortly thereafter at Seattle Pacific College, married, and returned to Japan as a missionary. He served with his family as Free Methodist missionaries in Japan for thirty years, planting 23 churches. Many thousands of Japanese responded to this former POW’s invitation to receive Christ as Lord and Savior—but probably the most notable was Mitsuo Fuchida.

Fuchida was handed DeShazer’s tract “I Was a Prisoner of Japan” in a train station after the war’s end. He had been the commander of the Japanese air fleet which bombed Pearl Harbor, the man who had called “Tora! Tora! Tora!” After reading the tract, like DeShazer, Fuchida was moved by Jesus’ cry from the cross, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) In September of 1949, Fuchida accepted Christ as Savior, was baptized in 1951, and went on to become a missionary in Asia. Over the next years, Fuchida and DeShazer spoke to many crowds together and individually, sharing their testimony of the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives.

Perhaps, like Jake DeShazer, you find yourself in a prison—not a physical one but one of circumstances, with fear holding the key. Perhaps you have taken the dare, and asked Jesus to take that key to unlock that cell door to your heart. You are now free. His grace demonstrated by His death on the cross made it possible—and with faith you are now free to love as He has loved you. In The Love Dare it says: “He was willing to love you even though you didn’t deserve it, even when you didn’t love back. He was able to see all your flaws and imperfections and still choose to love you. . . . This means you now share this same love with your spouse. You can love even when you’re not loved in return. . . .True love is found in Christ alone. And after you have received His gift of new life by accepting His death in your place and His forgiveness for your sins, you are finally ready to live the dare.” (p. 98)

Here is today’s dare during deployment: Ask God today to change your heart, so that you can love your spouse like He loves. Ask Him to increase your love for your spouse.

Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:7,8

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 6:23

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. — Ephesians 2:8,9

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed. — 1 Peter 2:24

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.
1 John 3:16, 23

Works cited:

Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)

Information on Jacob Daniel DeShazer and Mitsuo Fuchida from:

The Doolittle Raiders
Christianity Today
Breakpoint – With Chuck Colson
Commander Fuchida’s Testimony