10 February 2009

When What You Have is Taken (OP&L two)

First Lieutenant Richard D. Winters landed alone.

Two years of brutal training, marching, drilling and general army life had culminated in this night. This was the night their training had prepared them for. This was the night that their G.I. life insurance was designed for. The night that the United States and Great Britain would finally bring their armies to Adolf Hitler's Fortress Europe. This was D-Day.

Lieutenant Winters had learned how to train and lead men. He had learned how to jump out of perfectly good airplanes. He had learned how to fight when he landed, behind enemy lines and often surrounded. He was one of the cream of the crop, the best the United States Army had to offer. The airborne army Winters was part of was to parachute in before the invasion, behind enemy lines to secure certain objectives while the main invasion force landed on the beaches of Normandy.

And he landed alone, in the inky night of the French countryside. The only light were the flashes from the many enemy machine guns that were shooting at anything that moved.

Not only did he land without knowing where the rest of his men were, but the shock of the parachute opening had ripped his gear bags right off of him. He was left with only his uniform, helmet, and his combat knife.

How many times has that happened to us?

How many times have we had everything taken away from us?

How often have we planned and prepared for something, only to have it turn out in the exact opposite way?

It could be the college that you had dreamed of getting in to all through high school didn't accept you. Or maybe your dream job disappeared. Or maybe your retirement savings just disappeared. Maybe you had to give up your house to foreclosure.

When my wife and I were trying to start our family, we had a rocky start. We just couldn't get pregnant. And then, when we finally did, we lost the baby to miscarriage. And then we suffered another miscarriage.

We had been hit hard. We had finally opened our hearts and our minds to bring another human being into this world, and it seemed that the world itself was fighting against us. We were left with nothing.

We were like Lieutenant Winters.

We had prepared our hearts, our minds, and our house to accept our new family. We had prayed about it, talked about it, dreamed about it. We bought toys and clothes. We painted our nursery when we moved into our home, thinking that we had time now to do it, we might as well.

Everything we did was geared towards creating our own family.

And when the moment finally came, when we finally stood with our feet on the door jam, and took that first giant step out into the unknown, the world reached up and snatched all of our preparations away. Our nursery was empty. Our toys grew dusty. The books we bought remained unopened.

We landed alone.

But it was in this dark night that God revealed Himself to us in powerful ways. We got connected at church with support groups. We joined a small group. We began volunteering.

We grew closer to God than we had been before.

Because He had given us everything we needed.

It's not that it didn't hurt. It's not that it wasn't difficult. But God led us through it. When all was gone, when everything we had planned was destroyed, we fell on Him.

He has given us everything we need.

Like Lieutenant Winters, when everything we have gets taken, we must rest and move forward in the knowledge that God has provided for us everything we need.

When another paratrooper landed near Winters, he helped him out of his harness. When the other trooper was squared away, Winters said simply, "Follow me." The two of them walked through the French countryside, eventually meeting up with another group of paratroopers. They were able to figure out where they had landed, and where their objective was. By days end, they had successfully secured their objective, a road leading inland from the invasion beaches.

By the end of World War Two, Winters had been promoted to the rank of Major, with a long track record of strong leadership under the worst conditions World War Two had to offer. His actions on D-Day are still studied today at military schools as textbook examples of how to command infantry units.

And he started out with everything taken from him.


1 comment:

Ted M. Gossard said...

Sorry I didn't get to this days ago! Wonderful story on both counts! So glad God has blessed you with a beautiful baby boy. And that God has worked in giving you all you need when all was taken from you.

Exciting. God is good, always. We need to repeat that, and really learn to believe it. I think I'm growing in that way; I'd better be.