Germany’s crowning naval achievement in World War II was the Bismarck. As the largest battleship ever built, it was equipped with more than 150,000 shaft horsepower, 72 guns firing up to 15-inch shells, and a 14-inch thick impenetrable steel hull. This 823 foot-long ship was commissioned with one purpose only: wipe out the British Navy.
Britain responded by sending its prize battleship, the HMS Hood, to track down the Bismarck, but to the shock and horror of the entire world, Bismarck sank the Hood in less than 15 minutes and sustained no damages from the Hood’s guns. Indignant at the loss of their greatest ship, England called for an all-out attack, diverting every battleship and destroyer available to pursue and engage the German ship. A 3-day naval battle ensued during which the Bismarck was struck several times but, remarkably, suffered no damage.
Recognizing its inability to get close to Bismarck with their ships, the British deployed a number of out-dated Swordfish bi-planes equipped with torpedoes. One torpedo launched from the tiny Fairy Swordfish proved to be Bismarck’s undoing. As the open cockpit plane maneuvered in sync with the swells of the sea, co-pilot hanging out of the side of the plane to direct the torpedo, the Fairy Swordfish managed to launch directly into the Bismarck’s rudder, rendering it useless.
The Bismarck’s damaged rudders were fixed at a slight 12-degree change, causing the ship to sail in a long loop, having no control over its direction. Realizing the Bismarck’s weakness, the British fleet surrounded it and pounded it with shells until it finally sank into the ocean. Later, a German naval officer was quoted as saying, “It is incredible to see such an obsolete little plane having the nerve to attack such an obstacle as the Bismarck.”
Spiritual Lessons from the Bismarck
Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! – Jam 3:4-5 NKJV
Now, I love history and the way you can learn practical life lessons from stories like these. Think of yourself as a huge ship like the Bismarck… a world-class design, engineered by God to withstand multiple attacks from the enemy. You have authority, you have power, you are made for dominion. There’s just one thing getting in your way: your mouth.
When we talk, we put words out into the atmosphere. Let’s face it; many of those words aren’t all that great. In fact, a lot of time, we’re just talking to hear ourselves talk. We speak out of pride and inferiority; we speak doubt and unbelief, curses and fear. All of these things sneak in like those little Swordfish planes and cause us to stop right in our tracks. We can’t keep pursuing our purpose because our words trip us up and make us an easy target for our enemy, the devil.
Remember, it doesn’t take but 12 degrees to get off course, giving the enemy opportunity to swarm in and take you out. One or two words out of your mouth – one or two things that fix your rudder in the wrong direction – will set you up for the enemy to take you out.
It’s a great thing that our rudders are not fixed like the Bismarck. You really can change what you say. I have gotten myself in plenty of messes, but when I change what is coming out of my mouth, I can change my direction. If you catch yourself saying something, take time RIGHT THEN and take those words captive. Maintain that rudder so you don’t get sunk!
By guest contributor Bev Vaughn