A SOLDIER IN FLANDERS
A BULLET CHANGED THE
WHOLE COURSE OF HIS LIFE
Third Impression, January 1945
(Total 25,000 Copies)
Saturday, November 10th, 1917, the 7th Canadian Infantry was advancing on Passchendale ridge, step by step in the soft, deep, treacherous mud. One of them, a former sailor, proud of his own strength, contemptuous of any weaker than himself, caring only for his interests,was using a Lucas lamp in signaling when he saw the enemy approaching. In the ensuing defense of his position, this man's strong body was pierced by a bullet which changed not only his outlook but the whole course of his life. His strength was turned in a moment to weakness, and he fell into a yawning shell hole half full of water - unconscious. Some time later, as consciousness returned, he heard a voice crying for help, then cursing bitterly at the apathy of all who should have offered the help he demanded, then going on into desperate prayer for deliverance. Suddenly our friend realized that the voice
was his own, and the commotion ceased at once. Hours dragged wearily and painfully by and the soldier began to lose hope of being rescued.
Enemy soldiers were seen moving over the ground making prisoners of those who could walk, and killing at least some who could not. He fired his rifle, but apparently without result, and the enemy drew closer, looking at him - but from the grotesque position his body had fallen into - thinking him dead -
the soldier passed onward. This proved that he was lying in "No man's land," and made his chances of being picked up remote.
At about midnight, he saw figures against the skyline moving away from his vicinity and called for help, only to be told that some one would be sent to look for him at daylight. Now human props were knocked away from
him. He had been many hours without food, water, or sleep and was hardly able to keep awake, yet to sleep meant
death. What to do?
Towards dawn a heavy shell struck the ground just behind him, and exploded, and, in making its own crater, almost blocked up the one in which he lay, forcing the water in which he had been lying - close up to his chin, at at last he was able to west his parched and swollen tongue. A short time later another shell dropped
right between his knees into the soft mud, with its ugly butt close enough to touch. Terrified, he waited cringingly for the explosion which never came, and as he realized that the shell was a dud, his nerve gave way and he frantically shouted for help. However, help was not forthcoming yet.
Into his mind now came the words of a song he had often sung before, "Where
do we go from here, boys?" At last the words became a sharp, demanding question, and a warning that he would soon be going somewhere, but WHERE? Then came the answer. Trapped in the mud, his once boasted strength gone, helpless; he knew now that his sould, stained with thirty years of conscious and wilful sin, was to go out NAKED
into the presence of a Holy God without covering or advocate! Terror of death fell on him, and he again made efforts to escape from what seemed now to be his grave.
"I cannot die," he thought. " I can't face God, I am not ready."
Still he could not think what to do.
"I MUST do something or I shall be dead, and then what?" "What can I do?"
Again and again he cried in despair, and then it seemed as if an answer came.
"Call upon ME in the day of trouble. I will deliver thee."
He did not see this as his answer and still wondered
"What can I do?" To every query was given again the thought, "Call upon ME in the day of trouble. I will
deliver thee." This must be from the Bible he thought, and it must mean God. But how call I call upon God? Yet there was no alternative, for sleep must soon end the struggle. At last came prayer, of its kind, the cry of a soul in anguish.
"Oh God, if there really be a God, and if you can hear me in all this confusion, and if you can pick my cry out of all those that cry this morning, and if you will listen to a voice like mine, this is my day of trouble, and I am calling." And fear receded and comfort came. Then he heard, "Whose calling over there?" "7th
Battalion" he answered. "Where are you buddy?" "Over here."
Finally two brave men, temporarily leaving their post- crawled to where our friend lay, and with difficulty pulled his helpless and broken body out of the shell-hole, but having done this, were not able to help further. So,pointing out the closest dressing-station, (Red Cross) they left him to reach that half-mile distant post as best he could. The wounded man could not lift his body from the ground, nor even use his hands, so he dug his elbows into the surface, and dragged himself laboriously forward a foot at a time.
Hours slowly passed. Shells fell beside him, bullets whined above him. Three time an airplane approached, machine-gunning the forward positions, but each time the place reached a point where its fire must strike that crawling worm on the surface, the firing ceased and the plane passed on. Whether this was due to to mere
"sportsmanship" on the pilots part, or to that great promise, "I will deliver thee" I will leave the reader to
The fact remains that finally he reached a point where he could be seen by other soldiers, and having attracted their attention, he again lost consciousness. But this time help was at hand, and he regained consciousness in a base hospital. Months afterward, telling part of this story to friends, he was given a Bible to read for himself these words so wonderful to him. They many be found in Psalm 50:15, but our friend found a sentence more than he had so far learned. It was ... "and thou shalt glorify ME." This became his new desire, and he has tried in some measure to fulfill his part, giving his testimony to his friends, or to careless folk brought to wonder "Where do I go from here?" He says in conclusion, "It is better to walk to God in health and strength, than to crawl to his feet through the mud of despair and in fear of death."
Mr. T has been granted the privilege of telling the story of God's love, warning of His anger against sin, and testifying from his own experience of man's helplessness in the presence of God without excuse. "Reader be SURE
your soul does not go out from you "naked" ! Shelter it under the blood of Jesus Christ - God's Son, shed on Calvary for you." "Christ died for our (my) sins, according to the Scriptures." (I Cor. 15:3)
Rest in his finished work for time and eternity.
and THAT is my Grampa - evangelizing!