Monday, December 29, 2008

Marble Island and New Life in Christ

I recently read an article in British Columbia Magazine (Winter 2008 – “Return to Marble Island”) where Larry Pynn wrote of visiting Marble Island, one of the Queen Charlotte Islands, where his father served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.

Most soldiers faced bullets and shrapnel during the Second World War. But the Royal Canadian Air Force men who served on Marble Island, off Haida Gwaii, fought a relentless battle against the elements. . . .

Marble Island was the base for one of 11 radar stations the Canadian government built in 1943. Established to protect the nation from a potential Japanese invasion, this Pacific Coast air defence radar system operated until the end of the war in 1945. Of all the stations, Marble Island was perhaps the most vulnerable, a 0.5-square-kilometre outcrop exposed to the lashings of the Pacific Ocean in Cartwright Sound, off the western entrance to Skidegate Channel. . . .

At any given time, a complement of 48 to 79 men of all ranks kept the place patched up and operational. One of these was my father, Corporal James Arthur Pynn, who served at Marble Island between October 1944 and January 1945 as a carpenter with the construction and maintenance unit. . . .

My research into Marble Island so far has left me with one answered question: what remains today of the short lived radar station? To find out, I chartered a six-metre aluminum boat in the Village of Queen Charlotte . . .

What do we find? The camp that once stood on a slim margin of land has been flattened and ravaged by storms, the site overgrown with young spruce. . . . As for the radar station, I encounter no evidence of it during a brutal bushwhack to the top of the island. I do find a large fuel tank and sections of the incline railway; wooden ties, steel rails, and rusting spikes.

These, too, will corrode and disappear in time, as nature patiently washes away all evidence of three years of military occupation, and the memories of lives lived and lost are immortalized in the wind and rain and waves that continue to shape Marble

This story came to mind this past Sunday when I baptized Darcy at Arrowsmith Baptist Church. Having spend quite a bit of time over the past few months with him in his walk towards Christ, I was reminded of the dramatic changes that occur over time in ones heart when they come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Surrendering our hearts and lives to Christ is an act of abandoning the old and embracing the new. One of the great benefits of witnessing a baptism is that it helps us remember how far we've come; as sinners living in a fallen world, it's often easy to forget. In Christ we could paraphrase Larry Pynn’s last sentence to say:

Our old way of life will corrode and disappear in time, as Jesus patiently washes away all evidence of many years of sinful occupation, and the memories of lives lived and lost are immortalized in the wind and rain and waves of Christ's power and presence that continue to shape our hearts and souls.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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