During World War II, as Hitler’s armies raced across France, thousands of Allied troops dug in along the coast of northern France in a last-ditch effort to hold off the German forces. Trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, they knew they would soon face an annihilating attack by the Nazis. As the battle drew closer and rescue seemed impossible, the British troops sent a radio message across the English Channel in just three words: “And if not.” Some thought it was a coded transmission.
Actually it’s great significance comes from the Bible. In chapter 3 of Daniel, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had three Israeli captives (Hanaiah, Azariah, Mishael) condemned to die in a furnace. Their fate was sealed. They proclaimed faith in their God to deliver them from this certain death. But they added “And if not” we are willing to die.
This message of a fervent faith that they would be rescued from Dunkirk’s beaches, but of a resignation to die if need be in the fight to keep England free – was then told across Great Britain. Small boats and ships from around that island nation began a heroic effort to cross the English channel and rescue these men of valor and faith. They succeeded.
Today, do any of us have similar sort of dedication and faith that, when faced with great trials or even death, would say . . “And if not”.