On Sacrifice, by Kelly Davidson
My father was a fighter pilot stationed in Germany during the Cold War. His much older brother, Ken, spent all of WWII as a sailor, clinging to the frozen railing of a Corvette in a convoy of ships in the North Atlantic. Their father, my grandfather, was a gunner with the 10th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery in WWI. All were just teenagers when they enlisted. This was a time in history when nations still considered Christian, were not afraid to call evil: evil. It is not surprising that my grandfather’s Bible is replete with prayers for the Army, Navy, Victory and Peace.
My father recounts his father’s experience in the trenches at Vimy Ridge this way:
Dad along with others in his gun crew, would load and fire their cannon against the enemy trenches and positions almost continually all the while dealing with the constant shelling and mud and rats and all the horrors of that time.
Dad had a very close friend in his crew and the two of them had been together since they enlisted as very young men back in Saskatchewan. On this particular day, April 9, 1917, they were part of the major assault by the Canadian Corps on the German forces dug in on Vimy Ridge and were firing almost continually at the enemy positions prior to the actual attack.
His next memory was waking up on his back in the mud and feeling this terrible weight on his chest and the terrible pain.
After a few moments he realized that someone was lying on top of him and he struggled to roll the body off only to find that it was his best friend, and he was dead. Father was badly wounded with shrapnel in his chest and would later be evacuated, first to a field hospital on the coast of France and then later to a hospital in England.
In the hours and days spent lying in a hospital bed he said he could not escape the realization that had it not been for his friend standing next to him, he probably would have been killed also. This painful truth is something he carried with him for the rest of his life.
In John 15:13-14 we learn from Christ: “No one has greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” My grandfather, lying critically wounded in the trench in France, weary and troubled in ways we cannot imagine, must have, in that dark place, turned his eyes upon Jesus to look full in His wonderful face. In the context of life and death and eternity, the things of this earth indeed grow strangely dim.
All these gallant men in my family are and were people of faith. They served their country to fight tyranny and the oppressor. They had a high calling, so high in fact, that they were willing to lay down their lives as Christ did for us.
Here in Canada, thanks to the men and women who fought and continue to take a stand against tyranny, we enjoy freedom from occupation, yet still we long for freedom from the oppressor, not just for our lives but for everyone in this broken world.
Thus we pray that God would make us a people zealous for peace and hasten that day when nation shall neither lift up sword against nation nor within nations nor learn war anymore.
In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay. Hebrews 10:37
This fractured world covets your prayers. I will offer up this prayer from my grandfather’s Bible:
Heavenly Father, ruler of the universe in whose hands are the destinies of this and every nation, we give you thanks for the freedoms we enjoy, and for those who laid down their lives to defend them.
Give us the victory over those who would destroy our souls. Teach us your ways so that we might walk in your paths and be more than conquerers through Christ who saves us.
Even though we live in a world of tribulations, we are not fearful and afraid. Thy Son, our Saviour, said, “I have overcome the world; my peace I give unto you.”
Give us this peace we pray. In Jesus holy name, Amen.
Kelly Davidson is a teacher, lover of literature, disciple of Jesus Christ, life-long learner, and long time friend.