On the Beach June 1944

June 6, 1944 Two hundred yards off of the beach at Normandy; Pvt. Taylor Long was so sick he was not sure he would be able to leave the Higgins boat when the ramp fell. All of him was miserable from the rough sea, the shells falling and exploding in the water all around him, two Higgins boats on his port side had already been put out of action and it looked as if most of the men in them were already dead.  Dead before the ramp fell, dead before they hit the beach. His soul was filled with such fear that he could hear the beating of his heart through all the noise of the battle. He closed his eyes and said, “Lord I have got to see you, I have got to know that you are here. If I do not my life is gone. Lord I am too afraid to be a solider; I fear that when the ramp falls I will freeze to the bottom of this boat.” Then without warning the ramp fell into the water and the fear of the lapping water and falling shells filled his heart but his feet and body responded as he had been trained and he hit the water going in almost over his shoulders. Long said he saw a great cross formed by the shadows of a blown tank across the sands of the beach. He does not remember much of the next several hours but by night fall he and nine others were atop the ramparts of the beach and all of them were praising him for saving their lives. When they gave him the Silver Star he said to his comrades, “If I deserve this it is not I but the shadow of His presence that I saw that morning at Normandy.”

Published in: on April 29, 2011 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Always?

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!  Philippians 4:4

Being beaten, dumped in the sea, bound in prison, and charged for doing the right thing Paul certainly knows someone whom most people do not know in order to say rejoice. Of course he knew Jesus!  Even with that said I must confess that this is not an easy task. Don’t beat yourself up if you discover conditions and circumstances that you do not like and which leave you drained emotionally as well as physically. Be reasonable; Paul is not talking about things; he is talking about being so involved with Christ that in the worst of times he still knew he had someone with whom he could share his distress. Paul wasn’t any happier about being beating that we would be, but he knew that in this tragic moment he was not alone and in that he could and did rejoice.  I remember a close friend who knew that he was going to die very soon. It bother me greatly and I had to confess to him how I could not understand the way he handled the reality of his death. He explained to me that number one I was not dying and thus I did not have dying grace, then he went on to explain. He was not happy about this premature death; he would miss his family and seeing his dreams come true. However he also knew that he was not going to walk through death alone and in that he found joy for each day. In your darkest hour look for Jesus.

Published in: on April 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Some Choice

John looked around his office, not really an office but his room and office. The wall next to the small window was taken up with a half bed, another wall had a small table with a straight chair a 13 inch TV sit on top as did his dishes from supper. His one luxury was the closet that had been turned into a shower and toilet, of course that left his few clothes to hang from nails in the front wall which also held the door to the hall. John wondered how it had come to this, in his forties, working in a tavern cleaning up the throw up of ill customers and trying to keep the bathrooms from being disease ridden. It was a humiliating job and a dead end, no life existence. The strobe lights over his table begin to blink, something was wrong in the main room, time for him to get to work. It was the usual scene; two guys had tried to out drink one another, gotten sick and erupted their beer, fish sticks, and everything else all over the back of the room.  They laughed at him as he got his mop and begin the task of cleaning up after these drunken idiots. But really he wondered who the real idiot was?  After the boss had locked the door at three in the morning he began his job of mopping the flood, cleaning the tables, washing the dishes and trying to make the bathrooms acceptable for the next night.  How had this happened? He remembered his boyhood and the nice home his family lived in, the furniture and a real bed. He also remembered the fights with his father and the anger that finally caused him to leave in the middle of the night and the years of sleeping under bridges, in vacant cars and doing the same kind of job that now demanded his time.  It was freedom that he had longed for, the right to do his own thing. He wanted to come and go as he wished, stay out as late as he liked, and do what he wanted to do.  Well he could, but in truth in order to live, no not live, just survive he found himself now enslaved, not to his parents but to his hunger and struggle to survive. Some choice he had made, some trade, here he was filthy, smelly, and the moper for drunks. He would sure like to go home, but home, where was home, it had been so long. He would sleep now and tomorrow he would mop.

Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Walk in the Dark

 

I use to enjoy visiting with a blind couple that lived about two blocks from my home in an off yellow house on College St.  We developed a ritual that we followed each time that I would knock on the door.  They would call for me to come in and I would say, “You know you are sitting here without any lights on don’t you?” They would laugh and tell me to turn the lights on if I must.  I would take Mr. Luther walking sometimes and he would place his hand on my shoulder as we walked along and all the sounds that were made he wanted me to describe to him.  I really did try, but you know it is hard for a small boy to describe a leaf that was falling to a man who had never seen one.  I would let him touch it, smell it and sometimes even taste it. He would laugh and we would go on to the next sound of a kicked rock, breaking piece of glass and too many others to remember.  One day as I was leaving; they both said to me, “Sonny, we can’t see you and you seem very small, but you sure do bring a lot of light into our home.” I really didn’t but I did leave each time with a feeling of purpose and task accomplished.  I know that they are now both deceased, but somewhere in my memory are days of bright sunlight when I took a walk in the dark.

Published in: on April 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Summer in the Congo

The team of relief workers met on Monday night after our first full day of work in the Congo. The four doctors on the team were so discouraged. They had come half way around the world to bring comfort and relief to those in need only to discover that the greatest need the people faced was to have potable water.  All of their medical skills and experience could not stop the ravaging of the local people caused by cholera. Nothing but good water would bring a stop to its mounting death toll. We had brought twelve water purification plants with us but were only allowed to bring one to our compound for the use of our team. The others were impounded in the airport at Goma, Zaire. A team from Germany was supplying potable water and the government felt that since there was water within five mile of most of the people our plants would only encourage the refugees’ to stay longer. We were caught in a vice grip of political making in a world falling apart with thousands of people dying, it was a nightmare. We spent that night in prayer and felt that God was directing us to help as He opened the door.  We were able to build a compound for 500 children and to establish clinics in several locations. While two of our doctors in frustration returned to the United States the nurses and others held on and in time we were able to establish a helping solution by getting the German water to more people, instructing the locals to bathe, cook with, and drink only the water they provided.  We saw the home completed, lives saved, and an amazing drop in the death toll.  Our plans had not worked, but He had.  I learned a lesson that summer; we can plan all we want, dream all we like, but those plans and dreams must be His’ in order for them to change lives.

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Case of the Rocked Cat

Standing on the corner of the square in Waynesboro  I heard the sound of squalling tires as a car stopped too quickly and saw the  young driver leaving it running and abandoned in the middle of the street, screaming at the top of her voice, “My cats been rocked, my cats been rocked.” Since I don’t wish to share her name I will just call her Stressed. With great tears, a shaking body, and trembling voice she told me that she had been playing with her cat while sitting in her mother’s rocking chair and had accidentally rocked on the cat. Realizing that it was time for the Cat EMT’s I asked and discovered that the cat was in her car, still alive but with limited likelihood of making it through any more of her nine lives. I asked my friend to take her car home, by now traffic had come to a dead stop around the square and the world of Waynesboro had been placed on hold until the ‘preacher’ cleared the one road through town. I put Stress and the cat, in my car and it was off to the next town and the cat doctor. The trip was filled with regrets, tears, sobs, and general ‘mourning at the bar’. With safe hast I made it to the doctor and to cut the story short, Prissy, the cat, lived. Not without great cost, but she did live. Now she was never just right after the event with the rocker.  She walked a bit side ways, like a car out of line, and she hiked her hind leg when she did her business. But Stressed took good care of her and for years you could see the two of them around town, looking for a fire hydrant or just walking a bit side ways down the street.

Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Great Watermelon Vine

Now I have never accused myself of beinga Gardner. In fact I once killed an artificial
arrangement of flowers, (I over watered them and they unraveled.) However I have had some luck with tomatoes, sunflowers, and one year mush melons. So this year I planted a watermelon.  Now it has grown.  In fact the vine is at least 20 feet long, the only problem, like many of us we grow, we just don’t product any fruit.  No watermelons on this great vine. I have searched through the monkey grass; it was planted in the monkey grass, and no melons.  I told my congregation about this last week and compared it to many of us, no fruit.  Now I must apologize to my watermelon vine.  I came home last Friday night from dinner and there in the monkey grass was a full grown watermelon. A perfectly round, beautiful melon. The seed I planted said it would be a long melon, but what the heck; I will take a round one. Then to my surprise on another branch of the melon was a fully grown cantaloupe.  Wow! Now that  is not the end. My melon was not only ready to be removed, it was already chilled.  That’s right, a fully grown, ripe, and ready to eat chilled melon on one branch and a perfect cantaloupe on the other. I have more than a green thumb, I have some great friends.

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 6:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Thankful Sarge, Thankful”

PFC Baker after struggling through the surf, dodging the thousands of bullets that had come his way, and loosing everything he had eaten the past three days found himself, wet, bloody, and scared leaning against the blown out American tank, hung in a ravine on the beach at Normandy. His journey from the Higgins boat to this forsaken moment had been a miracle. All he could see were the bodies of his buddies, and all he could hear were the shells going off all around him and the cries of those wounded calling for a medic, chaplain, or mother. Those voices heard over the confusion and noise of battle would live with him until in his warm bed at a very old age he too called for someone. His Sgt. dropped down beside him and said, “How are you Baker?” Thankful Sarge, Thankful.  Ten thousand men died that June day in 1944. When the war ended we left 104,366 men buried in the soil of Europe. America will forever have a presence in Europe wanted or not. Those of us living in this great land now some 67 years later are surely grateful and thankful for those brave and for the most part young men who helped to make this possible. Next week our nation will observe a National Day of Prayer. Let us begin even now to give thanks to our Heavenly Father for those who paid such a high price and those this day that stand in harms way for our freedom. May they know that God walks with each of them and may their families be kept in peace?

Published in: on April 20, 2011 at 6:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Doer

But be doers of the word and not hearers only.  James 1:22

All of us know that what we do speaks louder than what we say. James is very strong in his belief that people see much more than they hear.  He makes it very clear that while we are saved by the grace of God through Faith in His Son that it is very hard for people to see grace and faith in others without it having some physical manifestation.  I think James also has a very strong feeling that having received the Grace of God it should change our lives.  We should be different enough that others could see that difference. He points out, through the leadership of the Holy Spirit that it is difficult for people to be moved by our faith when that faith has not changed us from the world.  One of the great sins of the church in today’s world is that we have not challenged our people to be different, not strange different, but good, kind, and loving different. Too often the church in its difference is just mean and judgmental or desiring to blend into the world that nothing of spiritual value and commitment shows. Let’s put our faith to work allowing others through our actions to see that we are not a hopeless people but rather a people of assurance and hope. Not a people who hate but a people who love and cherish others, not their actions or their sins but them.

Published in: on April 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Breakfast Long Ago

The morning light was beginning to break through the sides of the truck partly covered with canvas. It had been our cabin for the night of camping on theTennessee River.  I looked out of the rear flap that had been folded back to let in the morning sun and smelled the aroma of bacon being cooked, coffee perking, and smoke from the fires of each moving across our campground. I saw my dad bending over the fire tending to the bacon and looking now and then across the still fog cover river. I was about nine when this warm and wonderful memory was carved into my soul. It had been a wonderful weekend with dad and some of his friends and their sons and now we would share a campfire breakfast together.  I could see some of the fish caught the night before prepared for the fire and a couple of the other fathers gathering to stretch, get a cup of coffee, and maybe cast a line for an early morning bite by the fish of their dreams. My father was cooking, I was delighted. It would become one of my best mornings.  So it must have been on the sea when the fishermen heard the call of Christ to cast on the other side and then to bring some of their catch and have breakfast with Him. The risen Christ had arrived early, prepared breakfast for his friends and now waited for them to join Him. What a moment! What a morning!  Try breakfast with Jesus and do it soon.

Published in: on April 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm  Comments (1)