One of my favourite films ever is The Great Escape. It is a while since I watched it but my memories of the film are that it is tense, exciting and hugely enjoyable. Although it is somewhat worrying that what is essentially a sad story from the 2nd WW can be turned into an ‘enjoyable’ film.
The film is based on real events that took place in 1944. Up to 10,000 POWs were held at Stalag Luft 111 in what is now Poland. Their Nazi captors went to great lengths to make escape, especially by tunnelling, as difficult as possible. Despite this, under the inspiration of Squadron Leader Roger Bushell , 600 POWs were involved in digging 3 tunnels nicknamed, Tom, Dick and Harry. On the night of 25-25 March 1944 76 prisoners escaped through the tunnels. Only 3 made it back to the UK, the other 73 were recaptured of which 50 were shot dead by the Germans as a deterrent to further escape attempts.
I was reminded of The Great Escape when reading again the story of the Exodus, and particularly that moment when Moses and the Israelite people find themselves facing the Red Sea with Pharoah’s army rapidly approaching from behind. What to do?! There seemed to be no escape. If you read Exodus 14 you will discover that Moses, as leader, is the focus of a torrent of complaint…. “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness, aren’t there enough graves in Egypt?......It is better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness.”
To which Moses replies, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you this day…..Just stay calm.” Does that remind you of that motivational poster from the 2nd WW, ‘Keep calm and carry on’? But Moses had that idea first!! 2.5 million ‘Keep calm and carry on’ posters were published in 1939 to raise the morale of a frightened population as war was declared. (Interestingly the poster was largely forgotten until in 2000 one was discovered at Barter Books in Alnwick) Now, of course, that slogan and many variants are seen everywhere.
Inevitably there are times in life when we find ourselves in a corner, when our backs are against the wall, and the future seems uncertain as it was for the Israelites and the allied POWs. What Moses was reminding his people about was the importance and significance of trusting in God when circumstances threatened to overwhelm. The gift of faith in God is a quiet calm assurance that all will be well even when that seems impossible. Keep calm, trust in God and carry on.
Grace & peace