The army was advancing. A soldier stationed on the ridge was signalling when a bullet struck him and he fell, a crumpled heap, into a shell hole.
This soldier had been a sailor before going into the army. He was proud of his strength, contemptuous of the weakness of others and cared only for his own interests. Now his strength was turned to weakness, and as the weary hours dragged by there seemed little hope of rescue. His line had been driven back, and he was all alone.
The effort of supporting his body and preventing it from sliding down into the water at the bottom of the shell hole exhausted him. About midnight he saw distant figures outlined against the sky; they were newcomers replacing his men. They knew nothing of his position, and this made his rescue seem more hopeless than ever. It was terribly hard to keep awake and fatal to fall asleep.
Near dawn shelling began again. One shell fell so close behind him that the explosion nearly blocked up the hole in which he was. The water rose to his chest. Now for the first time it was possible to wet his parched tongue and soothe his raging thirst, but, should he fall asleep, drowning was inevitable.
Running through his mind now came the strains of a song cheerfully sung on former occasions: "Where do we go from here, boys?" Gradually the words became pointed and the thought was impressed on his mind: he was going somewhere and soon. "Where?" And again,
His body was trapped in the mud, his strength was gone and his careless soul was on its way out. Out he was going, naked and stained with the sins of thirty years, into the presence of a holy God with nothing to plead and no one to intercede.
The terror of death fell on him, and he made frantic efforts to escape from what seemed to be his grave. Again and again he called out for help. No answer. I cannot die, he thought. I am not ready to die!
No method of approaching God offered itself. "What can I do? I must do something!" he said desperately.
Into his mind now came an answering thought: "Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee."
Not recognizing this as a reply to his question, he still kept muttering, "What'll I do? What'll I do?"
Again came the thought:
"Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee".
"Who should I call? It must be God. The sentence must come from the Bible. But if it is God, He must be speaking to His own people - not to me. I don't know Him!"
Something must be done soon, but how to begin? Where is God? At last he began to form his request: "O God, if there is a God, and if He can hear one out of the ten thousand that are crying to Him this morning, and if He will listen to such a voice as mine, hear me. If this is in the Bible, and can be stretched to cover me, this is my day of trouble and I am calling."
This done, panic began to recede and sleep was falling upon him when he heard someone say, "Who are you, buddy?"
"7th Battalion," he replied.
A period of silence, and then again: "Where are you?"
He roused himself to answer, "Over here."
Finally two men, crawling over the mud, reached the place where he was trapped. Their combined efforts dragged him out of the shell hole. They tried without success three or four ways of carrying him back to their post, but were compelled to stop because snipers fired as soon as they raised their bodies. They had to leave him to try and make his own way out. After pointing to the dressing station more than half a mile off, they returned to their own posts. The wounded man could not lift his body from the ground, so he lay on his face and, by digging his elbows into the ground, he dragged himself forward a foot at a time.
Several times an airplane passed overhead, machine-gunning the front lines, but each time it reached a point above the crawling body the firing ceased. Was this due to the need to reload, or was it due to the promise, "I will deliver thee"? At last he reached a point where other soldiers could see him, and with a final effort he raised his body and shouted. When next he came to himself, he was in a base hospital.
One of the first things he did was to ask for a Bible and look for the promise that had proved to be so true. He was told he would find it in Psalm 50, verse 15, and when he turned to it and read it, he was deeply interested in the concluding words: "And thou shalt glorify Me." He resolved to do this as long as he should live.
As he said many times, "It is better to walk to God in health and strength than to crawl like a worm through the mud to His feet!"•
From website www.the-new-way.org