Echoes From the Campfire

It was his attitude, however, that always carried him through troubles.”
              –Robert J. Thomas  (The Reckoning)

    “And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in reverence during this time of temporary residence.”
              –1 Peter 1:17 (HCSB)
Many years ago, a good friend of mine who was a Marine wrote in a book he gave me when I left Baton Rouge.  Since that time I have transcribed it into my Bible.  C.J. certainly understood the words of Paul, and whether a person served in Asia or another continent the words still ring true.

         “For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in the province of Asia:  we were completely over-whelmed–beyond our strength–so that we even despaired of life.”
                    –2 Corinthians 1:8 (HCSB)

War, conflict, battles can bring one quickly to despair.  Life itself can be a struggle.  It may be from a device planted in the road that explodes while the vehicle in which you are riding hits it.  It may be that while you are ready to throw a phosphorus grenade and bullet hits it while still in your hand and you are burned beyond recognition as in the case of Dave Roever.  It may be while in the depths of the jungle, in your foxhole and enemy crawls in during the night and you must fight for your life.  Take all of these and transfer them to the spiritual.  The devil is trying to destroy, maim, kill, and raise havoc in your life.
    I have made it a point to study the lives and conditions of the POWs in Vietnam.  I have several books and have talked with a few of these stalwart men.  It so happened that this week, in my devotions, I came across the story of Ralph Gaither.  I have his book, “With God In A POW Camp.”  In the devotion it was mentioned that he “thought he had faith, but after months in the camp he felt it wasn’t working.  He prayed for physical relief from his suffering, but only felt the cold, the hunger, and the pain more intensely.  He tried to thank God for what he had, but found himself hating everything–his cell, the darkness, the guards, the pitiful food–with growing intensity.  God did not seem to be listening.”  (Larkin Spivey)
    One day, he remember the words of his favorite hymn, “Amazing Grace.”  For three days, he was on his knees praying.  During his prayers his thoughts went to Job, his suffering, and through all of it he never lost his faith.  Gaither came to the point where he said, “I had a confidence in my heart that told me God would give me the strength and patience I needed.”
    Another prisoner, Robinson Risner, wrote in his book “The Passing of the Night” (which I believe everyone should read, and read again) “To make it, I prayed by the hour.  It was automatic, almost subconscious.  I did not ask God to take me out of it.  I prayed he would give me strength to endure it.  When it would get so bad that I did not think I could stand it, I would ask God to ease it and somehow I would make it.  He kept me.”
    No matter the situation that you find yourself in, God is there.  It may not be actual combat or the conditions of a POW, but you are in dire straits of one thing or another.  God is there.  Never give up, not matter the adversity.  In these times, do not try to do penance to get God to hear you; He does not need your good deeds.  He simply wants you to grasp hold of His amazing grace.