Often when people look at Louis Zamperini’s life, they don’t come away with the impression he wishes they would have. You will find few stories as action packed and riveting as Louis’. His resilience and high pain tolerance often captivates and leaves a lasting impression on his audience. But in truth, one defining moment captivated him, and interprets the many years of his unfathomable endurance in suffering. That moment was when Louis encountered Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade and afterward, opened the Bible.
Louis lived many lives, as some say—as a delinquent youth, an Olympic athlete, a young soldier, a POW, a war hero welcomed home, a husband suffering PTSD, and then as an entirely new man, and the joy-filled man that lived out the rest of his long life.
The Bible says that nothing in all creation, not even the worst suffering imaginable, can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:38-39). Louis is living proof of this verse. It seemed all hell was unleashed against him, and yet all the while God’s strong hand was preserving this man’s life so that he might come to know Christ.
I waited. And then, true to His promise, He came into my heart and my life (Revelation 3:20). The moment was more than remarkable; it was the most realistic experience I'd ever had. I'm not sure what I expected; perhaps my life or my sins or a great white light would flash before my eyes; perhaps I'd feel a shock like being hit by a bolt of lightning. Instead, I felt no tremendous sensation, just a weightlessness and an enveloping calm that let me know that Christ had come into my heart.
The waves of death swirled about me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me…
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
with him now was not
all that he had suffered
but the divine love
that he believed
to save him.
The Bible speaks of the Word of God as added. Sometimes it's planted by the wayside, and nothing grows there. Sometimes it's sown among the thorns and represents the person who makes the decision and then goes back to his old life of bars and chasing women or whatever. A third seed is sown among the rocks. There's sand and dirt between the rocks, and when it rains you'll see a stalk of green coming up. But on the first day with sunshine it wilts because there is no room for roots. The fourth seed is planted on fertile soil, and finally it takes hold and has a chance to grow and live. That's what happened to me.
At that moment,
sweetly inside him.
It was forgiveness,
beautiful and effortless
For Louie Zamperini,
the war was over.