THE MISSING SHOVEL


Contained in a book described by the Scotsman as 'Unquestionably one of the most wonderful stories of World War 2', the following excerpt is the true account of an incident involving a Scottish soldier imprisoned by the Japanese during World War 2, and who was set to work on the infamous bridge on the River Kwai in Thailand.


'The day's work had ended; the tools were being counted, as usual. As the

party was about to be dismissed, the Japanese guard shouted that a shovel

was missing. He insisted that someone had stolen it to sell to the Thais.

Striding up and down before the men, he ranted and denounced them for their wickedness, and most unforgivable of all their ingratitude to the Emperor. As he raved, he worked himself up into a paranoid fury. Screaming in broken English, he demanded that the guilty one step forward to take his punishment. No-one moved; the guard's rage reached new heights of violence.

'All die! All die' he shrieked.


To show that he meant what he said, he cocked his rifle, put it to his shoulder

and looked down the sights, ready to fire at the first man at the end of them.

At that moment the Argyll stepped forward, stood stiffly to attention, and said calmly, 'I did it'. The guard unleashed all his whipped-up hate; he kicked the helpless prisoner and beat him with his fists. Still the Argyll stood rigidly to attention, with blood streaming down his face. His silence goaded the guard to

an excess of rage. Seizing his rifle by the barrel, he lifted it high over his head

and, with a final howl brought it down on the skull of the Argyll, who sank

limply to the ground and did not move. Although it was perfectly clear that he

was dead, the guard continued to beat him and only stopped when exhausted.


The men of the work detail picked up their comrade's body, shouldered their

tools and marched back to camp. When the tools were counted again at the

guard-house no shovel was missing.'


This is certainly a wonderful story of courage and self-sacrifice on behalf of his fellow prisoners and it was said that admiration for the soldier in question transcended hatred for the Japanese guard.


However, there's another true story of self-sacrifice that transcends even this example, wonderful as it is. It took place over 2,000 years ago and surely outstrips even the most momentous of all in the history of the world. Almighty God took human form and came to live in this world. And by having lived a completely sinless life He proved Himself 'good enough' to take the punishment we deserve upon Himself. Yet there's another huge difference between the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus to that of the Scottish soldier in the story above. The soldier died for those who were his friends and comrades, Christ Jesus died for those who were more accurately considered... His enemies...


'You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the

ungodly. 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 5:6-8


So with Christ having given His life for me, is it too much to ask that I give my life for Him?


The excerpt above is taken from the book entitled, 'Miracle on the River Kwai' by Ernest Gordon.



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