CHRISTIAN COMMENT: ‘Movie moment shows us how fleeting life is’

Two Lancaster bombers ' similar to those used during the dam busting operation ' revving up their engines
Two Lancaster bombers ' similar to those used during the dam busting operation ' revving up their engines

SOMETIMES the most trivial of things can catch us unawares and move us deeply.

There is a scene in the 1955 Second World War movie, The Dam Busters, where one of the pilots is preparing himself in his billet to get ready for the dam busters raid.

He’s chatting to his mate, shaving and then he stops to wind a small clock and leaves it on the dresser.

The film goes on to show us powerfully the horror of what those men had to go through as they flew low over the Möhne, Edersee and Sorpe dams.

It also shows the heavy cost of the raid.

Of the 133 crew in 19 specially adapted Lancaster bombers that took part in the attacks, eight planes were lost with 56 men on board; three of these men survived to become prisoners-of-war.

As the film ends, the surviving planes return and the airmen both celebrate the success of the raid but also assess the huge losses that came as a result of it.

The camera films the empty rooms of many of the crew who had died and would never return.

Then the camera zooms in on that wind-up clock which continues to tick, tick ,tick, tick.

As an audience, we know that it, too, will soon stop ticking, as there will not be anyone returning to rewind it.

That brief shot reminds us of how brief and fleeting our lives are.

As the Bible puts it: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble... So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:10, 12).

We like to sneer at the Victorians for being so prudish about sex and obsessing about death, but we’ve reversed it. Our culture is obsessed with sex and we refuse to talk or even think about death.

Most people don’t seem to have a ‘heart of wisdom’ that is willing to think about how short our lives are and how long eternity is. In general, we prefer not to think about it.

In fact, almost the only place that still talks about these things is your local church.

If you ever find yourself thinking about that tick, tick, tick, tick and wondering what’s going to happen when the ticking stops, why not visit your local church and find out more?