June 5th

There was expectation in the ground as the incoming batsman, famous for flamboyant shot-making, strode confidently to the crease. Wickets had fallen with depressing regularity so far that morning; the home side looked to be heading for certain defeat. Yet any hope of fireworks soon disappeared as the newcomer made it clear he was in for the long haul, rather than a “death-or-glory” slog. He dug in and defended his wicket doggedly, grinding out runs not just for the rest of the session, but all day. Show-boating could wait; this was a day for grit and determination, for sheer survival. And his patient and disciplined innings paid off, laying the foundation for an unexpected, but hugely welcome victory.

We see the same dogged patience and disciplined determination in the two momentous anniversaries either side of this date. June 4th 1940 saw the end of Operation Dynamo, the last of 338,226 troops snatched from the jaws of death on Dunkirk’s beaches, to fight another day. That other day came on June 6th 1944. Operation Overlord poured men onto the Normandy beaches, determined to defeat evil and tyranny. And, thank God, patience and discipline paid off.

Sometimes God’s Kingdom feels distant, almost an impossibility. We embrace faith briefly, but are not prepared for the long haul. For that we need perseverance, working at our faith day after day, sticking with it through good and bad. Committing ourselves to Christ is one thing; faithfully following him is quite another. Many will step up to the crease, full of promise, but not all will be there at the close of play. How about you?

David Bell