By June 1940 the tattered remnants of the British Army had been plucked from Dunkirk and now the nation was on red alert braced for a seaborne invasion on the south coast of England. And so, the scene was set for a cocky little plane to spoil the party. The Spitfire would become the emblem of a fightback, forever cherished in the hearts of the British people. Jesus spoke of an aerial battle waged in heavenly places but fought out on the battlefield of people’s lives. He didn’t say much though about the image most of us have grown up with of the Devil with horns, wearing a red jumpsuit and carrying a hot poker. That’s the stuff of cartoons and adventure movies.

I do understand that not everyone signs up to the Christian idea of good and evil but there does seem to be a battle going on nevertheless. If you trace the history of the human race you can see it. Even in the midst of beauty and wonder, evil seems to exist and sometimes it seems to win. Terrible people often do terrible things, often in the name of religion. Throughout the summer of 1940 a fierce battle took place for control of the skies over Kent and Sussex as Nazi Germany fought for air supremacy as the pre-curser to the invasion. It came in the shape of a ruthless assault on the RAF in the air and the destruction of the airfields and the factories on the ground.

The concrete slipways on the banks of the River Itchen are just about the only remaining clue to the illustrious past of Woolston in
Southampton. They hide a secret of a heroic slice of history, now in grave danger of being airbrushed from our national story as the memories fade and the generation who lived through it passes through the veil of eternity. It was the nerve centre of Supermarine as the Battle of Britain unfolded in 1940, the assembly line for the Spitfire. Almost half of the 22,000 that were built had their roots there. As the aerial battle raged, the staff were working 18 hour shifts here to replenish the RAF as it fought a desperate battle in the sky to repel the threat of invasion from the sea.

According to the Bible, God has an enemy who is the source of everything bad in the world and seeks to control the atmosphere. But here’s what the Bible says, the great handbook for life that has been burned and banned like now other book in the world. This is what it tells us about the spiritual air supremacy that Jesus established: “He made us alive when we were spiritually dead, separated from him because of our actions and following the ways of this world and the prince of the power of the air”

On a Thursday afternoon in September 1940 a daylight raid brought a taste of hell to Southampton. The air raid sirens echoed across the city as 9 Spitfires were scrambled to meet the incoming bombers. They were utterly overwhelmed 15 to 1 in two devastating waves that saw 70 tons of explosives decimate the Spitfire factory. It would never rise again. The production line was dispersed far and wide into garages, bus depots and workshops and the Battle of Britain was ultimately won at tremendous human cost. “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” The timeless words of Winston Churchill in honour of the young pilots who gave everything in the defence of a nation.

So, what does all this mean for you and me? When Jesus died on the cross, a battle against evil, decay and even death itself was won. Without that victory, we were are destined to live our lives alienated from God as Creator and Father. The peace and purpose we can each lay hold of today only exists on the other side of that sacrifice. The Bible tells us that Jesus disarmed the powers of evil and paid the price for human failure and depravity. Anyone who chooses to humble them self and accept his forgiveness gets to have their slate wiped clean by the author of life himself.

Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus established spiritual air supremacy over this world. It means that we can live our lives beneath a canopy of God’s grace and presence without fear, intimidation or dread. But it must be something we each receive for ourselves. We do that by opening the door to Jesus.

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