Out of the Night

Prodigal:  I almost lost you.

Me:  Yes, but I am here, I am with you.

Prodigal:  Let’s share with each other.

This is from the book Power of Love and this was written by Jack Haring

The Battle of the Bulge.  The final desperate attempt of the Germans to break through Allied lines in Belgium and dash to Antwerp and the sea.  For six days our 84th Infantry Division had been diverted from the Ninth Army in the north to the beleaguered First Army area in the Ardennes forest.  The fiercest fighting of the war, and I, a 19-year old private, was in the middle of it.

My letter home to Pennsylvania was written on a Christmas morning that was sunny and quiet–deceptively quiet.  “The barn I slept in last night,”  I wrote, “made me think of the place where Jesus came into the world.”  Then I began reminiscing to Mom about the good Christmases we’d had as I was growing up–always starting with the traditional dawn service at St. John’s Lutheran in Boyertown.  Church had always been an important part of my life.  I’d started college thinking I might go into the ministry.

The letter home was upbeat all the way.  I didn’t mention anything about the things that had been troubling me.  How I had become disillusioned with organized religion because I saw so few Christians either at home or in the combat zone–certainly not Christians trying to live the way Jesus had taught.  Or how the weather had been so miserable and the fighting so blazing that I feared I’d never live to see Pennsylvania again.

The last straw was being sent to these snow-covered hills and woods where we might be attacked at any moment from out there, some where I was beginning to think that God has forsaken me.

Still, even though we’d spent the last five days floundering around trying to stop the Germans, even though our supply trucks had been captured, at least we’d had a barn for shelter on Christmas Eve, and our cooks were promising us a hot meal for Christmas Day.

“Let’s go, ” Sergeant Presto, our squad leader, shouted.  “Collect your gear and fall out.  We’re going on a mission.”

I groaned.  We all groaned.  There went our first hot meal in a week!

We drove for about ten miles and then the trucks dropped us and sped away.  It was dusk.  Troops were strung out all along dirt road that circled through some hills.  When Presto came back from a meeting with the platoon leader, he gathered the ten of us–we were one man short in the squad– around him.

“Okay, men, here’s what we’re going to do.  This won’t take long and we’re going to travel light.  Leave your packs and entrenching tools here.”  He made it sound so simple.  Intelligence had said that some German infantry were dug into a nearby hill and were causing havoc by shooting down on the roads in the area.  Our battalion’s job was to go up and flush them out.

Single file on each side of the winding road, we moved up the hill.  We moved quietly warily.  At the top, we were surprised to find, not Germans, but an abandoned chateau in the middle of a clearing.  Our squad went into the building.  We found a billiard table and the tension broke as we played an imaginary game of pool using our rifles as cues.

Then Presto came stalking in.  The Germans, he said, were in the woods beyond the clearing.  Our orders were to chase them out into the waiting arms of another battalion positioned at the other end of the woods.

“There’ll be three companies in this deal,” Presto said.  “Two of us will stretch out along the edge of the forest while the other hangs back in reserve.  Now, as soon as we push into the woods, everybody fires, got it?”

We spread out, walked through the darkness to the forest’s edge, than, at a signal, we burst in, opening up with everything we had.  We kept up a brisk pace, keeping contact with our buddies along the moving line, walking and firing for about a mile.  But the forest was empty.  There was no movement…..

The trees in front of us exploded.  Suddenly, the night went bright with every kind of firing I’d even seen or heard of –rifles, rifle-launched grenades, mortars, machine guns, tracers over our heads, bullets at our thighs.  But worst of all, Tiger tanks.  At least six of them, opening up point-black with 88-millimeter cannons.  Their projectiles whined and crashed all up and down our line.

Our intelligence was wrong, I thought angrily, as I flung myself down on my stomach.  They told us there were no tanks up here.  Now we’re really in for it.

Within seconds men were screaming in pain all around me.  I saw a tree with a big trunk and made a sudden lunge to get behind it, but I wasn’t quick enough.  Something tore into my thigh.  There was hot, searing pain.

We were completely pinned down.  The Tiger tanks kept scanning their turrets and firing on every yard of our line.  The German ground troops sent their small arms fire into anything that moved.

The minutes went by.  Five.  Ten.  Fifteen.  Then came a lull in the barrage.  I called over to my best buddy, Kane.  We called him “Killer.”  He was the gentlest guy in our platoon, but we’d nicknamed him that after the popular comic strip character, “Killer Kane.”

“Are you hurt, Killer?”

“Naw.  But I think everybody else over here is.  Presto’s hit bad.”

I called to Cruz on my right.  He was our squad’s B.A.R. man.  There was no answer.  Then I barely heard him whispering, “I’m hurt.  Real bad.  Floyd’s dead.  Corporal John’s hit bad.”

Well, I thought, if Presto’s out and the Corporal, too, we don’t have a leader.

The pounding started again, this time with flares so they could spot us better.  We did some firing back and then the action subsided into another lull.

Down along the rear of our line came a figure crawling.  It was our platoon runner.  “Captain says we’re getting nowhere,” he whispered to Killer and me.  “We’re pulling back in five minutes.  Move out when you hear our covering fire.”

I crawled over to Killer.  “We’ve got to get our guys out of here,”  I said.  “You go up your side and I’ll go down mine, and we’ll drag as many as possible to that big tree back there.”

“How’re we going to get them out of here, though?”

“I don’t know,” I said.”But we can’t leave them lying here.”

We were trapped.  I lay there on the cold ground feeling helpless, that forsaken feeling again.  Where was the God that I had prayed to during all those years of church and Sunday school back home in Pennsylvania?”  And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do,”  the Bible had said to me clearly.  Was it necessary, when I needed help so badly to ask?

“Oh, Lord,”  I mumbled, “help us.  We’re trying to get our wounded buddies out of here.  Show us the way.”

I had no sooner started dragging Corporal John toward our meeting tree when the firing started up in the center of our line.  There’s the signal for pulling back, I thought frantically, but we can’t do it. The Germans will sweep in on us; they’ll mop us up before we can pull back.

Just as I got to the tree, I saw that Killer had brought back three wounded squad members.  So we had six in all to get back.  I closed my eyes and in desperation said:  “In Your name, Lord, help us.”

I opened my eyes.  In the black of night, moving mysteriously among the shattered trees, a giant hulk came toward us.  The Germans, my heart thumped, they’ve broke out of the brush.  They’re bearing down on us.  No, it was something else, something unbelievable.  It now came into full view and stopped beside our tree.

A horse.

A big, docile, shaggy chestnut, standing there without a harness, as though awaiting our bidding.

Killer and I looked at each other in disbelief.  We didn’t question then where the horse came from, or how, or why; we just got to work.  Moving swiftly, we draped Cruz and the Corporal on the chestnut’s broad back, then Mike and Presto.  Then, with Killer carrying one of our buddies and me carrying the other, we led the horse out of the woods.  At the clearing the horse trotted on ahead of us, straight to the chateau, and by the time Killer and I got there, our wounded were already on medical stretchers.  The two men we carried in were cared for; the medics gave a quick look at my shrapnel wound; and then, as fast as we could, Killer and I went to find the horse.  We wanted to pat him, give him some sugar, anything to make him sense our gratitude.

But he wasn’t there.  We looked everywhere, asked everyone we saw, but no one could tell us anything about him.  He had simply vanished–gone from us as mysteriously as he had come.

The next morning at the aid station the shrapnel was removed from my leg, and at noon Killer and I lined up for our belated Christmas dinner.  The day before, 190 men in our company would have answered the chow call; today there were 35 of us.  All the wounded men in our squad had survived, however, though some were never to see action again.

I have always believed that Christmas night, God sent that horse to reassure a doubting soldier of His presence,even as He had sent His Son for that purpose on a Christmas night twenty centuries ago.

Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.

Matthew 9:37

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

The Greatest Thing to Do

Prodigal: That just frosted me.

Me: What?

Prodigal: What they said.

Me: Sometimes we just have to let it go.

This is from S.D. Gordon

The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor yet those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time to pray.

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Prodigal: Ready?

Me: This is a piece o’ cake.

This is a short video devotion on Proverbs.

Click here to watch the video

Proverbs 8:24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. (KJV)

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Beginning of Evil

Prodigal: This looks like a lot of temptation to my waistline.

Me: Yes, how could we deal with it?

Prodigal: Maybe you could share from one of the books you have read.

Me: Good, starting point.

This is from the book The Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis

The beginning of all evil temptations is inconstancy of mind, and small confidence in God. For as a ship without a helm is tossed to and fro with the waves; so the man who is careless, and apt to leave his purpose, is many ways tempted.

The reason the temptation has grown is that you feel God’s way is not the best way. God is holding out on you. How could this behavior really be a big deal? Remember though God is not just looking at behavior. He is looking at your spiritual, and emotional growth. God also is trying to protect you.

The beginning of temptation means that you may not understand all the reasons to say no, but you trust God and say no.

Psalm 90:12

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

What Size is God

Prodigal: I’m getting tired.

Me: Quit your hemmin’ and hawn’ and keep moving.

Prodigal: I guess we don’t have a choice sometimes.

This is from the Great House of God by Max Lucado

Nature is God’s workshop. The sky is his resume. The universe if his calling card. You want to know who God is? See what he has done. You want to know his power? Take a look at his creation. Curious about his strength? Pay a visit to his home address: 1 Billion Starry Sky Avenue…..

He is untainted by the atmosphere of sin,

unbridled by the time line of history,

unhindered by the weariness of the body.

What controls you doesn’t control him. What troubles you doesn’t trouble him. What fatigues you doesn’t fatigue him. Is an eagle disturbed by traffic? No, he rises above it. Is the whale perturbed by a hurricane? Of course not, he plunges beneath it. Is the lion flustered by the mouse standing directly in his way? No, he steps over it.

How much more is God able to soar above, plunge beneath, and step over the troubles of the earth!

Psalm 36:5

Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reached unto the clouds.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Prodigal: It was rough last night.

Me: Well here is some encouragement, The storm shall pass. Meanwhile, dance in the rain!

This is a video devotion on Proverbs.

Click here to watch the video

Proverbs 8:23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

When You Are

Me: Sometimes we just need to hear from someone.

Prodigal: That makes all the difference

When you’re lonely,

…..we wish you LOVE.

When you’re down,

……we wish you Joy.

When you’re troubled,

……we wish you PEACE

When things look empty,

…..we wish you HOPE.

-source unknown

Proverbs 4:2

I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

The Night Shift

Prodigal:  The sun is about to set.

Me:  Yes, but God works the night shift.

Prodigal:  Praise the Lord for that!

This is from the book God Works the Night Shift by Ron Mehl

It was midnight in Last Chance, Colorado.

There wasn’t much moving but an aging International Travelall with four sleepy, long-legged Bible college guys stuffed inside. Representing our college in that summer of ’64, we were traveling cross country on a public relations tour.  We were on the basketball team, sang in a quartet, and took turns preaching and running the slide projector.

We were on a narrow stretch of Highway 71, approaching Last Chance.  My big buddy Herb–all six-foot-nine, 240 pounds of him–had a girl-friend who lived down the highway in Sterling.  We planned to camp in her living room that night.

I guess it could have happened to any of us, since we were all dead tired, but our driver fell asleep at the wheel.  In the back seat, I woke as the Travelall lurched suddenly to the right, then back to the left.  I hollered something, then blacked out as our van launched itself over a sheer embankment, rolled again and again and came to rest, upright, facing up the slope.

When I came to, the van was still rocking and dirt seemed to be sifting down on me from the ceiling.  I became aware that the little dome light was on, that I had a lap full of broken glass, that my back hurt, that the luminous hands on the dash clock pointed at 12:02, and that I was all alone.

Alone?   Why was I alone?  Where were the guys?

The rear passenger door next to me suddenly popped and swung wide open, but there was no one there.  I got out.

Am I hurt?  Where am I?  Where is everybody?

A full moon shone down on the grassy slope, but I couldn’t see anyone at all.  Shock and a growing sense of fear began to claw at my insides.

Then I heard something.  Some kind of moan or sob.  I followed the sound and found Joe.  Joe was a big guy, too–six-six, 250 pounds.  But this thing on the grass didn’t look like any Joe I’d ever seen.  His face, in the moonlight, was a mask of blood.  He was staring at me.

“Ron,” he moaned. “Ron. Help me.”

He lifted his hands to me and blood ran down his arms.   He looked like a monster out of a horror movie.  I remember wanting to run–to just turn around and run from the whole scene as fast and as far as I could, and somehow block it from my mind.  I’d never been so scared in my life.

“Ron,” Joe cried, holding out that bloody hand.  I took it and held it.  Then I heard someone else moaning in the distance.

“Hang on, Joe, ” I said, “I’ll be right back.”

Thirty yards on the other side of the van I found Herb.  His leg was twisted at an unnatural angle from the hip, and he seemed in horrible pain.  Jim was lying nearby.  But neither of them looked as bad as Joe.

I went back to Joe and sat by him, sure he wouldn’t–couldn’t live very long.   From somewhere, I remembered that you were supposed to keep injured people awake.  I said, “Let’s quote some verses, Joe.  Do you remember one?”  I started rattling off all the Bible verses I could remember.

As I sat there holding my friend’s hand, I began to realize what a horrible predicament we were in.  It was the middle of the night.  We were out on the dark prairie.  Highway 71 was a lonely stretch of road.

I started to pray.  “Lord, it’s dark and we’re in trouble.  No one knows we’re here.  No one travels this road.  No one will come by here.  But Lord, You see us.  You know where we are.  Help us, Lord.  Please, help us.”

Five minutes later I heard something in the distance.   A car?  I climbed up the bank and staggered onto the roadway.  It was a car!  I could see approaching headlights.  Standing in the middle of the highway, I waved my arms like a wild man.  The car stopped and a young, frightened-looking man rolled down the window and looked at me.

“We’ve had an accident,”  I gasped.  “We’re young preacher boys…our car’s down the bank…my friends are badly hurt.  Thank the Lord you came along!”

The man stumbled down the bank with me while his wife drove to the nearest farmhouse to call an ambulance.  While we waited, the man talked to me.

“Let me tell you what’s amazing about this,” he said.  “My wife and I were at a camp meeting tonight.  After the service, we just looked at each other and said, “Let’s take the long way home.  It’s such a beautiful moonlit night–let’s go for a little drive.”  It’s strange because we never drive this road–especially at this time of the night.”

All I could think of was that God had heard Ron Mehl’s shaky prayer–in our danger, in our hurt, in our isolation, in the dark.  He was on duty.  He was putting in another night shift.

1 John 4:18-19

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts our fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  We love because he first loved us.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Prodigal: There’s no dollar sign on peace of mind.

Me: Amen!

This is a video devotion on Proverbs

click here to watch the video

Proverbs 8:22 The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. (KJV)

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Everything in Christ

Prodigal: This garden is fine as a daisy.

Me: Yes, it is beautiful.

Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and his will confounds me. Between him and whoever else in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by himself….I search in vain in history to find the similar to Jesus Christ, or anything which can approach the gospel. Neither history, nor humanity, nor the ages, nor nature, offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or to explain it. Here everything is extraordinary.

Napoleon

Even with power you can humble yourself to acknowledge how great Jesus really is.

John 17:13

But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org