The Prayer Journal: Comforts of War

The 18th installment of my son’s online fiction series.  If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.

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Tuesday, July 23, 1918 – Comfort

My name is James Samuels. I am a US Army chaplain here in France, behind the front lines where I assist with the wounded and dying. By this means I have obtained this journal as a dying soldier named Roger Adams passed it on to my possession. I know nothing of how he acquired it, but do know it must have impacted his life in the same way it has my own. I am happy to write that this man placed his trust in Jesus in his dying moments.

Over the past few days I have been reading this book, the entries herein and the requests that have been made by its various carriers. It has been a comfort to my soul here in this deathly place.

Our Savior promised us the Comforter before He left. How little did we understand the value of such a promise. As men, we claim grit and guts and no need to be comforted. Yet out here, as I see maimed men and exhausted soldiers, comfort is so desired, so needed. Comfort of home, of peace, of the routines we had all known and not appreciated, of a bed that is imprinted with years of our slumbers. And it is my job to comfort them with lack to all of these? My task has been hard indeed.

I have needed comfort but did not wish to admit it. The Lord knew my heart, and He used a lost and dying man to give me a book, and His Spirit would use it to rekindle my spirit. I so add my request, my thanksgiving, my plea for comfort that only He can give. Give it to us all, Lord, friend and foe. Comfort ye, comfort ye your people. Amen.

James closed the book and slid his pencil into his shirt pocket. He stood to his feet and, tucking the book under his arm, walked toward one of the infirmary tents. The sun was shining on the warm summer afternoon and the cool wind would have been pleasant had it not wafted the scent of both fresh and old blood. A little farther down the road he could hear shouting of a poor soul being treated for his wounds. James shuddered, shook his head violently to avoid gagging from the smell, and ducked into the tent… (Read more)


The Prayer Journal: Passing On

The 17th installment of my son’s online fiction series.  If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.

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It was early that morning in France on July 19. Pvt. Adams played with the bolt of his rifle as he sat in torturous anticipation. The cool night’s dew hung on the blades of grass and wheat around him as they peacefully waited to be graced by the beams of the approaching sunrise. Adams knew they’d be moving out soon. They all knew it. They’d been kept in reserves since they’d gotten to the battle the day before. They’d been woken early and told to be ready. It wouldn’t be long now.

“Hey, Adams.”

Adams turned with a scowl to see who had broken the sacred silence the soldiers shared before the charge. It was Rivers. Adams groaned as he turned back to fiddling with his rifle. “Whatcha want, Jack?”

“Gotta favor ta ask ya,” Rivers replied, either not recognizing Adams’ agitation or not caring.

“What?” he growled again.

Something plopped in Adams’ lap. He looked down. It was a book, an old one. He put his rifle down and picked it up. “What’s this?”

“Twas Brickman’s,” Rivers answered. “Ya know, that journal he’d always be writin’ in. Prayin’ and stuff like dat.”

“You picked this off his corpse?” Adams asked in shock. “What, you couldn’t let the guy rest with it?”… (Read more)

 


Just Do It, Because No One Else Can Do It For Us

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Photo credit: Martin Louis

This past Tuesday, I officially became a member of our local volunteer fire department. Although I am just a corporate member for the time being, I plan on taking an EMT course and becoming a responder. In the meantime, I can participate in some of the training sessions, one of which is a fitness program led by one of the firefighters free of charge. It has been great!

You know how you know you should be doing something, but put it off either because you just can’t get motivated enough or you feel like you’re too busy? After experiencing some knee pain earlier in the week that had nothing to do with the fitness training, I went to see my chiropractor. (They do treat more than back pain and back injuries.) He examined my knee, and knowing I have also had a history of hip pain, he raised his brow and imploringly said, “René, you have got to stretch. Everyday.” I had heard those words from him before. Then he explained that my muscles were too tight and were pulling on my kneecap whenever I put weight on it while it was bent. Needless to say, I was so grateful that last night’s fitness training was a stretching workout. I have been doing stretches everyday this past week, and although I am still experiencing some occasional pain, I have noticed a big difference. I had not been as diligent to stretch when it was just my hip, but having shooting pain in my knee when going up or down stairs, or simply squatting to sit on the toilet was a great motivator to start stretching daily. It’s better than having surgery, and I don’t want anything to hinder my new venture with the department and plans on becoming an emergency responder. Pain and strong desire are often good motivators.

You know the saying, “When the cat’s away, the mice will play?” Working out and being self-motivated reminded me of something the Apostle Paul had said in his letter to the Philippians. People, who believe we have to earn brownie points with God by being good and religious in order to get to heaven, often use what he said to prove their point. In Philippians 2:12, 13 Paul wrote, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” It’s kind of like that phrase about the cat and mice. Sometimes it’s easier to be motivated to do the right thing when we’re around people who can motivate us. Sometimes when a good leader or boss dies or is away for an extended period of time, things can start falling apart. Paul was saying that the Philippians had always been good at following God while he was with them, but he was encouraging them to continue following God even though he wasn’t there to hold their hand. They needed to work out or exercise their own salvation, to exercise their own faith, because no one could do it for them. At the same time, he reminded them that God was still with them and working in them, so they were not actually alone.

Just as we will never reach any goals by waiting for someone else to do it for us, we can never be reconciled to God and be with Him in heaven through someone else’s faith. Sure, Jesus paid the penalty for us, because we can never earn enough brownie points, but we still have to accept Him as Lord and Savior. No one else can do it for us.

 

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The Prayer Journal: Give and Take

The 16th installment of my son’s online fiction series.  If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.

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May’s sun hat shaded her eyes from the bright summer beams as she walked home from selling bonds. The breeze was crisp and clean, filtered through the trees that lined the dirt roads. The scene felt sadly familiar; it was June 18, a year to the day that Richie had told her he was enlisting. It was the same beautiful weather, the same warm breeze, the same summer scent it had been on that day that seemed forever ago. She breathed in the warmth of the day and sighed. It was a lonely, reminiscent sigh.

She had her bag over her shoulder that she carried most places. In it she carried a few items including the journal the Branson’s had given her, as well as one of the letters she’d received from Richie. This one was the one he had written on her birthday. He told her how he’d been growing closer to God, how he had finally begun to understand what faith on the battlefield was all about. He’d told her how much he missed her, how her face was one of the only things that reminded him that there was still something beautiful in the world.

Though a little late, that letter had been the best birthday present. May missed him so much.

Tired from work, she finally arrived at the Branson’s. It was evening and she knew Mrs. Branson would be diligent in the kitchen preparing dinner for Mr. Branson who was certainly still out in the field. When May walked in the door, however, she was surprised to see them both sitting at the table… (Read more)

 


The Prayer Journal: The Woods

The 15th installment of my son’s online fiction series.  If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.

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Monday, June 10, 1918

Richie could see the jagged silhouette of the woods straight ahead. It was dark, early morning before the sun had risen, about 0400 hours. They’d left Verdun for a couple weeks now. No more quiet; this was it.

There was no doubt of it, either. His battalion, the 1/6, they’d been lucky so far. They had taken a reserve position while most of the others had been storming the woods to route the Germans back. The Huns had been making an attempt on Paris but were stopped by the AEF, and now the Americans were set to push them back. Them Germans dug up in the woods, dug deep in the trees and rocks with Maxim machine gun nests all over. Shells crashed overhead day and night, shellfire so intense it made Verdun seem silly. Little water and almost no food for days. They said whole platoons had been wiped to only a handful of survivors.

And now it was his turn… (Read more)


The Prayer Journal: Different Kind of Trust

The 14th installment of my son’s online fiction series.  If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.

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Saturday, April 13, 1918 – Trust

The 74th got hit by gas shells early this morning right where they were sleeping. They’d been pulled back to reserves, too. A few poor souls had a shell land right in their barracks. Heard it wasn’t too bad for the others at first, the boys could hardly smell it and were allowed to take off their masks less than an hour after the shelling. As the day’s gone on, though, more and more pass us on their way to the infirmary, blisters all over and choking. It’s been an awful sight.

“Hey, you, Jack,” a marine Adams addressed Richie. “Where be Rivers? I ‘aven’t seen ‘im.”

“He headed over to the delousing station first thing this morning,” Richie replied.

The features of Adams’ face scrunched together in disgust. “Cooties?”

“Yup.”

Adams shivered. “Nasty blood-suckers, them lice. Thanks, Jack, now I’ll be itchin’ all day.”

Richie laughed to himself and turned back to his book. As the thought about what next to write, an artillery gun boomed from across No Man’s Land. He hardly flinched now that he’d heard them a few hundred times. From his experience, cowering didn’t help much if your trench was hit.

Faith is different out here. It’s not the same as it was back home when it was going to church and helping out the neighbors. That doesn’t help much when we’re dealing with shrapnel and gas. I remember the preacher’s sermon once, how our war isn’t “against flesh and blood.” But what about when you’re in a war that is?… (Read more)


From the Mouth of Babes

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While on vacation the past week, I was able to spend time with my mom and sister and family.  My little niece often says things that reveal she is a deep thinker even at 4 years old.  During a ‘tea party’ with her sister and friend, she said, “In all this world God is the boss. You gotta know that.”

Out of the mouth of babes.


The Prayer Journal: In the Trenches

The 13th installment of my son’s online fiction series.  If you are just joining, click here for the previous chapters.

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Monday, March 18, 1918

The lead of Richie’s pencil scratched the date onto the journal’s page, the markings becoming less and less visible in the ebbing twilight. He leaned with his back against the clay wall of the trench, his boots standing on the slimy duck boards that had been placed in the mud. His rifle was leaned next to him. Beside him stood Private Rivers and a few other doughboys who had relieved some French soldiers the day before. Those men had looked so exhausted when they arrived. It was not an encouraging welcome.

Richie didn’t bother writing a request next to his date; it was good enough he was even praying at this point. He wasn’t even sure what he had planned to write when he pulled the journal out of his coat. Maybe it had been the boredom, the monotony, or the cramped, stinking quarters of mud and smoke that brought him to write, but he was writing nonetheless…. (Read more)


I Can’t Resist A Good Challenge!

Rene Yoshi:

My blogging friend, Bill, who has had ALS for almost 18 years, did the ice bucket challenge. Way to go, Bill!

Originally posted on Unshakable Hope:

Ice Bucket Challenge Donations Top $100 Million in 30 Days compared to $2.8 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 29).

Mary looked at me like I was crazy when I told her that I wanted her to dump a bucket of icy water over my head.
“You might gasp and breathe in water and choke,” she warned. But after a few days of prodding she finally agreed to play her roll in the Ice Bucket Challenge. I was hoping that the ice cold water being poured over my head would cause me to jump out of my chair and run, like my Australian friend, Phil, but (SPOILER ALERT) unfortunately that didn’t happen.

Seventeen years ago, almost a year after being diagnosed with this horrible disease known as ALS, I was asked by MDA to participate in the local portion of the Labor Day…

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Where Heaven and Earth Meet

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“Behold, He shall come up as clouds, and His chariots shall be as a whirlwind.”  —Jeremiah 4:13 KJV

 

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Wings Like Eagles

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