What do you think you’d learn from following Jesus for more than 80 years? Lieutenant Jim Downing, a 103-year-old Navy veteran of the Pearl Harbor attacks, has been following Jesus for 82 years and is still going strong. When he trusted Christ, Amelia Earhart was still flying, the game Monopoly first hit store shelves, and Babe Ruth hit his final three home runs before retiring.
Last Tuesday at the Porch (watch it here), we had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear this historic national hero share in person about his experience during the Pearl Harbor attacks, and more importantly, about the Savior who changed his life.
Get a 60-year jump on your faith. Here are five pieces of advice from a man who’s built a revolutionary legacy of faith and finishing well.
Advice #1: Get acquainted with Jesus
The best advice that Jim said he’d ever received, or could ever give anyone, is to get acquainted with Jesus Christ, who will prove to be the greatest Friend you’ll ever have.
Ask yourself: Have you started a relationship with Jesus by trusting in Him for your salvation? How is your relationship with Jesus doing? What can you do to get better acquainted with Him?
For more on this: What is the Gospel? “The Power of the Gospel”. Equipped Disciple.
Advice #2: Find your completeness in God, not circumstances
Jim said that Christ provides resources that your circumstances can’t touch. Jesus provides a completeness in our lives that nothing else can. God has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), so only something eternal can satisfy us. And God promises that when we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).
Ask yourself: Do you feel complete? What are you looking for in life to satisfy you? How are you doing at delighting yourself in God?
For more on this: “Can’t Get No Satisfaction”. 7 Ways to Kill Comparison and Be Content.
Advice #3: Don’t worry; trust God in times of trouble
In the middle of being attacked at Pearl Harbor, Jim said that he felt the greatest peace he’d ever known. Jesus promises that kind of peace to His followers (John 14:27). God tells us that He is a very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). You don’t have to worry – instead, trust God, who works everything out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Ask yourself: What do you worry about? Does anxiety own you? How are you doing at trusting God in the middle of whatever you’re going through?
For more on this: Waging War on Worry. Anxiety: A Perspective Problem. Matthew 6:25-34.
Advice #4: How to be happily married for 68 years
Jim was married for 68 years to his wife, Morena, who passed away in 2010. He said that the best definition of love he’d found is voluntarily giving yourself up to another person. (Jesus said this too, in John 15:13). Their marriage was based on living out that principle. They also allowed each other to develop and exercise their unique strengths and gifts.
Ask yourself: How would you define love – and is it the right definition? Are you selfish or selfless in your relationships? What are you looking for in a spouse?
For more on this: How to Build a Relationship that Lasts. How to Stay Married for 70+ Years. Philippians 2:3-5. 10 Things a Man Should Look For in a Woman. 10 Things a Woman Should Look For in a Man.
Advice #5: Forgive as you’ve been forgiven
Mitsuo Fuchida was the Japanese lead pilot and commander of the Pearl Harbor attack, responsible for the deaths of more than 2,400 people. Later in life, he trusted Christ after receiving a gospel tract from a US veteran who had been a Japanese POW (you can read Fuchida-san's story here). Jim met Fuchida-san in person, and was able to forgive and accept him as a brother in Christ, not seeing him as an enemy any longer.
Ask yourself: Is there anyone in your life you haven’t forgiven? What do you want revenge for? Do you trust God to provide ultimate justice?
For more on this: "Forgiveness". Ephesians 4:32. Romans 12:17-21. 1 Thessalonians 5:15.
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