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Making Time

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"So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Make time for the things that matter. I think that’s a message that the Maker of time wants us all to take seriously. It’s a rule that can apply to spending time alone with God each morning, or investing an entire day with a loved one. With that in mind, when my grandfather recently invited me on a day trip, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time.

The Journey

It is a brisk morning, one of those days where the crisp air almost inspires a sense of adventure. First, I meet up with my grandfather, Lt. Col. Carel Humme, the patriarch, storyteller and history keeper of my family. We are off to spend the day with members of the Virginia Aviation Historical Society on a journey that, for many of them, will be a visit to their past. I'm about to be immersed in a world full of history, to reflect on the times when our nation came together to face adversity. In contrast, the world I’ve been living in as a news producer has been inundated with the negativity of politics. These are uncertain times, and reporting the news every day can generate cynicism about the future. But on this day, God has some lessons to teach me about hope.

Our first destination: the Fighter Factory in Suffolk, Virginia, where aviation restoration experts are working to rebuild iconic planes from American history. Then it’s on to the Aviation Museum in an unassuming town called Pungo, far from the beaten path. History lessons in school are always so sterile. But what I am about to experience is real, not just because of the planes, but mostly because of the men, especially my Grandfather.

Before we meet up with the other men, we have to take a ferry boat across the murky James River. As we pull into the dock on the other side, Grandpa points to the sky. A bald eagle has just taken flight; an unusual sight for such a grand symbol of American heritage to be found on the docks with a bunch of seagulls. For a moment, I am struck by where I stand in this real life metaphor.

His Nation Needed Him

As we travel, I begin to ask questions. I want to know about his years in the Air Force, his childhood, his life. His story is the story of our 20th Century. A young boy growing up in rural America during the Great Depression… a father, a mother, a sister. “Do you remember Pearl Harbor?” His father had broken the news to him. He was only 13. There were rubber drives, and scrap metal drives. D-Day would come, and the war would turn. He would enroll at the Virginia Military Institute at 17. The war would end, but it wasn't the end of wars. Soon after, he was destined for the skies over Korea.

This is a man who grew up in a simpler time, before the age of television and the internet, who grew up in tougher times, who grew up ahead of his time because his nation needed him.

Before we arrive at the Fighter Factory, we have already traveled back in history, talking of the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, devoted to the young boys from that town who were cut down on the beaches of Normandy. I hear about the German V-1 rockets that rained fear and destruction upon Britain in WWII. We talk of the Memphis Belle, the most famous of the B-17 flying fortresses. He recalls the P-51 Mustangs that changed the air war, finally giving the Allies the upper hand.  

At our first destination, there it is, the B-26. We stand before a damaged plane in the process of being restored. I’ve heard his stories before, but now they’re coming to life. Grandpa looks it over. He had been a navigator on one of these in Korea. In December of 1950, shortly after the U.S. began to push back the communists, he arrived. He points to the front – "This one doesn’t have the clear plastic nose you could see through." But that’s where he sat, some of the time. That’s where he pushed the button to drop the flash bombs that lit up the night sky allowing his reconnaissance plane to photograph the surprised enemy’s positions.  

Real Men, and Heroes

At the museum I meet other brave men. One who set his plane down on frozen rice paddies in Korea. His mission: to help establish an urgently needed U.S. airfield where nothing had previously existed. I also meet a WWII pilot who remembers the times when he and 1,000 other Allied bombers took to the skies together to attack the Germans, knowing their chances of success were much greater in numbers.

These are not men who brag, or think too highly of themselves. They would say they just did their duty. But to me, they are all heroes. They are real men. I find myself smiling just at the sight of them – this microcosm of the greatest generation, the character etched in their faces, the wealth of invaluable lessons that can never be exhausted.

They are all here because they love aviation. But there’s a much deeper bond for many in this group. They share a brotherhood forged by service and sacrifice. These are men who have seen too much of death, men who have lost dear friends in battle, men who understand the value of life, who will never forgive the enemies of freedom for making them take life. These are men who have seen more than they’ll ever care to talk about, but who still believe. Deep in their eyes I see confidence, courage, assurance, hope – lessons learned in the heat of battle, when fear reigned and adrenaline flowed. Somehow, their lives reassure me that a righteous cause can prevail when good men answer the call.

What Matters Most

At the end of this day, as we leave the planes behind and take the stories with us, a realization remains. I understand more deeply than ever that my Grandfather belongs to a unique generation. They are men who have lived history, and even made history. They understand the past, and are not bitter. They live in the present, and are not fearful. And while they sacrificed much, they gained a lifelong bond of brotherhood in return. I see today more than ever that we must honor the honorable. We must learn what we can while we can. We must answer the call. We must defend liberty at any cost. We must never take our freedom for granted. And we must not be afraid to sacrifice for what matters most.

While I learned some very valuable lessons by spending just one day with faithful men, imagine how much more we can learn by making more time each day for our faithful heavenly Father. God, who has been faithful before, remains faithful here and now. Our hope for the future must be grounded in remembering God's faithfulness in the past. So set aside some time to sit down and focus on the ways God has provided for you, protected you, and restored you. And when you find yourself concerned about the economy, the future of our nation, the future of your family, remember that God never fails. He never has. He never will.
In your daily battles, remember that He sacrificed His only Son for us, not only to give us eternal life, but also to give us hope here and now. "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" .

So let’s make more time for God, the author of history, the one who knows the end from the beginning. He’s not worried about you, or your future. And His wisdom for each day is revealed when we lay down our own plans, and answer His call. "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

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About The Author

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Benjamin Gill oversees all web content as the Multimedia Manager for He has been on staff with CBN News as an internet and broadcast producer since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter @BenGillCBN. Here are some of his commentaries and articles: Pursuing Truth in a World of Fake News: Reflections of a Christian Journalist After 20 Years with CBN News The Breaking Point: Pandemic Pain, Persistent Prayer, and God's Bigger Picture Plagues, the End Times, and Trusting in God's Protection: 'You Will Hear Us and Rescue Us' 12 Powerful Bible Verses to Build Your Faith and Fight Fear