5 Inspiring Spiritual Lessons From the Real Ordeal at Dunkirk

I saw the movie "Dunkirk" (2017) the other day. I thought it was excellent. And I would heartily recommend it to anyone, especially parents with their adolescent or teenage kids (since they will probably never be taught real history in school). It's not gory like "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) or laced with profanity (I might have heard one vulgar word, but it's hard to tell with those thick English accents sometimes).

Anyway, the movie spurred me to do some of my own research about this event in 1940. (Although I remember reading about Dunkirk when I was a kid, I was stunned to find out through casual conversations that almost NO ONE my age or younger had ever heard of it before the movie came out! So, the absence of teaching real history has been going on for some time now apparently.)

The British/French disaster in France and evacuation at Dunkirk reminded me of several key spiritual lessons I have gleaned from the Bible:

1. Unpreparedness leads to disaster.

The Allies thought they were safe behind their defenses. The French had built a string of impressive fortifications (called the Maginot Line) along their border with Germany. Supposedly, there was no way for the Germans to penetrate those steel and concrete bunkers, trenches, and minefields.

However, the Maginot Line ended with the Ardennes Forest in Belgium. Why fortify that area? The forests are way too thick for German armor to pass through. And the Dutch thought that if the Germans attacked them, they could just flood their fields, and the German tanks could not maneuver.

They all underestimated the enemy. The British, French, Belgians, and Dutch were all lulled to sleep. They all believed that fighting a defensive war--merely sitting behind fixed fortifications forever—would prevent the Nazis from hurting them.

Christians certainly underestimate the spiritual enemy today. The Bible says that Satan is "a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). He is on the prowl. At times Christians almost convince themselves that they are not in a real spiritual war every single day. You don't win too many battles by ignoring the enemy or playing defense all the time and thinking he will never attack.

In the same passage the Apostle Peter tells Christians to "be sober, be vigilant" (v8) and to "resist him, steadfast in the faith" (v9). The Apostle Paul tells the Ephesians to strap on the whole armor of God every day, and to go out and do battle, not just sit around and wait for things to happen (Ephesians 6:14-17).

Christians are to be soldiers, trained and hardened for battle, not sitting around (2 Timothy 2:3-4). We are commissioned to take the fight to the enemy, as God's royal ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) and set captives free with the liberating message of the Gospel. We can't do that if we are constantly on the defense.

The Germans invaded Holland so quickly (from the air with paratroopers as well as with armored divisions on the ground), that the Dutch were overwhelmed in days. The British and French woodenly followed their plan from the last war and marched north to meet the Germans in Belgium. Then the trap was sprung.

A second German army plowed through the "impenetrable" Ardennes Forest, completely by-passing the French fixed fortifications of the Maginot Line. Within days the German armies in the north and the south had surrounded and cut off almost half a million Allied troops in a little area around the city of Dunkirk.