On Sunday in the church hallway I asked a friend about her grandson was is serving in Afghanistan. Her eyes got a little dewy as she said, “We almost lost him.”
She hurriedly went on to say that he and a handful of fellow soldiers had been in a remote outpost that was suddenly attacked by a much larger force of Taliban fighters. While in a gun battle, her grandson had his hand on his ammo magazine when it was hit by a bullet. In that split second he threw the magazine and it exploded.
My friend explained that she’d gotten this story from her grandson’s wife who lives on the West Coast. Yet even without the chance to ask her grandson any questions, one wonderful detail came through the grapevine loud and clear. Her grandson attributes his miraculous survival to God.
I’ve been praying for this young soldier for 3 years, ever since he entered the service to find a way to make a difference in his own life and in the world. There’s a maple tree on my prayer walk that belongs to this young soldier who’s really our young soldier because he’s serving us all. Of course our young soldier doesn’t really own the tree in my neighborhood. I just decided to adopt the tree as a signpost, as a place to remember to pray for him as I walk by every day.
One fall day a few years ago I picked up a red fall leaf and pressed it into my Bible as a prayer reminder when our young soldier finished basic training and deployed to Iraq. During the winter it was dark in the mornings and the tree was bare, but I’d picked the tree well because it was right under a street light and I could always see it. One day several of his comrades were killed in the line of duty. I prayed for God’s help and comfort for our young soldier. I’m sure it must have been hard, but he continued to serve faithfully.
Then there were times of thanksgiving for the good news by the prayer tree for our young solider. He came home safe and sound from Iraq, more mature and wiser than ever. He met a lovely young woman. They married and welcomed into the world the cutest baby you’ve ever seen.
Then this past summer it was back to vigilant prayer work for our young solider as he deployed again, this time to Afghanistan. Again prayers under the tree were for his safety and now also for strength and support for his wife and little one.
As many of you know, our own son Chris also served in the U.S. Army. He’s out now and doing well. While in, he deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. We were worried, but we were able to get through because we were the recipients of innumerable prayers. No prayer is ever too small when your own young soldier son or daughter is in harm’s way.
And so on Sunday, even though we were in a busy church hallway, I stepped aside with my friend and we joined hands and bowed our heads and I said a prayer of thanksgiving to God right there on the spot for hearing our prayers for our young soldier.