Whatever It Takes

  • Steve Hatter
Helicopter flying

The Search and Rescue community of the United States military embraces a bold, yet poignant motto: “that others may live.” Pararescue jumpers, or PJs, are one of the military’s most elite forces, a highly trained group serving in the Air Force and the National Guard. In battle, they’re flown behind enemy lines by brave helicopter pilots and crews to rescue downed pilots. In peacetime, Search and Rescue aircrew and PJs stay sharp with daring civilian rescues, recovering victims from scorching deserts, treacherous mountaintops, raging seas, and natural disasters. “That others may live” speaks to the heart intent of all who choose to serve within the mission area of rescuing others from peril, even when the mission work means laying down one’s own precious life for someone else.

In my younger days as a combat fighter pilot, I had great confidence in the men and women who had committed to doing anything and everything possible, in peacetime and war, to ensure that “others may live.” If I were to be shot down in enemy territory, I knew a rescue mission would ensue, and that every possible resource would be brought to bear to try and get me out of there. I knew that if asked the question, “what must we do to rescue Captain Hatter?” their unified answer would be: “whatever it takes!” And, this response would come whether I was to blame for getting myself into a messy situation. They would be there for me, committed to doing whatever it took because they whole-heartedly lived out the motto “that others may live.” Such commitment to selflessness and honorable choices is rare these days, which has me thinking about the mission of the New Testament Church.

As believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, maybe we should think more like these noble and brave search and rescue soldiers. If we should ever doubt the clarity of our Lord’s charge to the church He was leaving behind, we simply need to consider His “Great Commission” given to us by the Gospel writer Matthew in a description of a gathering of the resurrected Jesus and His chosen disciples before the blessed ascension. Here found in Matthew 28:16-20 we read:

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Indeed, 2000 years later our calling is unchanged. Moreover, it is not difficult to see gospel rescue mission opportunities all around us, all the time. And make no mistake, each saved believer has the means and wherewithal to take full advantage of a providential opportunity and tell someone about their own saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Do you have a family member, a co-worker, a neighbor, or even an enemy who could be placed in your path in a manner that might inspire you to go on a search and rescue mission that another may live? Think about it! More and more I am wanting to do whatever it takes to be available and bold for Christ, “that others may live.”