When my mother called me on the phone to tell me about a book she’d recently read, I listened with some interest, but begged her not to send it along. She is the type of person who will immediately run to the post office or to UPS to ship a book or anything else that is not nailed down which she thinks someone might enjoy.
Hold off, I said. I’ll see you, soon, I said. I only live three hours away, I said.
Didn’t matter. She sent it.
And I have to say, I am glad she did. The book was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I recognized her as the author of Seabiscuit. I hadn’t read that book, but had seen the movie and wasn’t all that excited about reading some new story about a plucky and determined hero.
I could not have been more wrong, more stupidly snobbish, or closer to missing out on a good thing.
Unbroken is the life story of Louis Zamperini, a man whose life experiences included driving his community crazy as a juvenile delinquent, blossoming into an Olympic distance runner, flying bomber runs in WWII, surviving (after a crash) what was at the time the longest recorded sea float in history, and being beaten and humiliated as a prisoner of war by the Japanese. I have scarcely been so riveted by a work of non-fiction in several years.
As I read the book, I thought with excitement that it has the potential to be a spiritual milestone for many people. The father God is an important part of Unbroken. So, too, is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. These things won’t jump up as strongly as they do in the genre of Christian books and testimonials, but they are there and unmistakably so. I have little doubt that large numbers of people will look at what God did in the life of Louis Zamperini and will tentatively venture out in faith, looking for God to rescue them and preserve them.