Although special Russian forces have attempted to capture President Zelensky on a number of occasions, he has so far eluded them whilst managing at the same time to appear by video link at events all around the world. In this, he is not unlike Prime Minister Winston Churchill. I have just begun watching a well-researched television series called Churchill’s Bodyguard, based on the journals of the man who guarded the PM throughout the Second World War, sometimes with life-saving efficiency. It is eye-opening. We are used to looking on Winston Churchill as a deeply flawed genius, but for whom Britain would never have survived the Second World War.
Great lives are divinely destined and you will richly appreciate these remarkable accounts about how Churchill knew that he had been called by God for his great task – and how the ‘still small voice’ on several occasions intervened dramatically to save both his own and other people’s lives.
Churchill had a tendency to take excessive risks such as undertaking six solo flights to France in order to meet his French counterparts, even as France fell and the skies were dominated by Luftwaffe fighter planes. Or the occasion when Churchill refused to hide in a bunker during the horrendous attacks on London, and instead stood atop a building surveying the scene, as the bombs fell all around him.
In one memorable incident, Churchill was entertaining three ministers at Downing Street when he suddenly felt to go and order the kitchen staff to head immediately for the bomb shelter. Three minutes later a bomb completely destroyed the kitchen they had been working in! Neither they, nor the ministers, were hurt.
And then there was the occasion when he ignored the car door being held open for him, and instead made his way around to get in from the other side. A few moments later, as the car drove along in the dark, a bomb went off and hit the side of the car where he would normally have sat.
Although Churchill was well served by his bodyguard, he was very aware that ‘Someone’ was looking after him in order that he might accomplish a unique and crucial calling. (I am reminded of Moses.) He certainly enjoyed a quite astonishing degree of divine protection from the Boer War, and then through the First World War (when he was often called out of the trenches moments before a mortar landed) It is an extremely moving story and we have much to praise God for!
Googling ‘Churchill and religion’ will lead to many hits. I found out, for instance, that in 1946, he wrote down a list of objectives for the Conservative Party leadership, of which the first was, “To uphold the Christian religion and to resist all attacks upon it.”’ See ‘Winston Churchill: A Surprising Champion of Christian Heritage’: an informative and relatively in-depth article.
Churchill was certainly not a ‘regular’ Christian.’ On his 75th birthday, when asked by a reporter if he was afraid of dying he famously uttered the words: “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”(!)
It has often been pointed out that Churchill was a deeply flawed character, who, in amongst many crucially important decisions, also made so exceedingly bad ones. But how grateful we can be for his passionate and clear sighted regard for truth – and awareness of where and to what certain trends would lead. Oh, for leaders with such peripheral vision – as opposed to those who TS Eliot cautioned about when he declared that “most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.” (!!)
Lord God of history, we really are living through incredibly historic moments, and mighty forces are on the move. We marvel and are so grateful, when You raise up people You can lead and speak to. But as we look around the world today, Father, we see many authoritarian leaders in power, all the way from Russia to China and North Korea, from Turkey to Myanmar, and on our own continent in countries such as Hungary. We pray that you will equip Zelensky to be a chosen vessel at this time, and that You will continue to protect and guide alike his diplomatic and military planning – and find time to develop his own awareness of You too we pray. In Jesus’ name.