Never the Same

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. –John 15:13 NIV

My father was wounded on the pitiful island of Attu in World War II. Shrapnel imbedded in his spine left him paralyzed, recuperating in a VA hospital for a year. He was never the same.

The spinal injuries he suffered defending a little spit of volcanic rock hanging on the tail end of the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska left him with recurrent back pain for the rest of his life. When the first symptoms of stomach cancer appeared thirty years later, he thought it was his troublesome back. By the time the cancer was discovered, it was too late. He died a month after surgery.

My mother was never the same. I was never the same.

War does that. It changes lives, steals dreams, shatters hopes. But the men and women who returned from World War II were stalwart characters. They got on with life, building families and communities. They were the first in line at the polls on election day, first in line at a Red Cross blood drive. They understood duty, loyalty, courage. They didn’t preach it, they lived it. Their priorities were—in order—God, family, country.

Dad refused to talk about the war. So when I discovered his Bronze Star hidden in a dresser drawer, I was surprised. I didn’t think Attu was significant enough to warrant a medal for bravery. One World War II writer described it as “the lonesomest spot this side of hell.”

But, unknown to the American public, for fifteen months—from early June 1942 to the mid-August 1943—US forces fought off a Japanese invasion in what one writer described as “arduous operations hampered by shortages afloat, ashore, and in the air . . . not to mention the almost insuperable obstacles of weather and terrain.” When it was all over, American casualties added up to 3,829 (25 percent of the invading force—second only in proportion to Iwo Jima): 549 dead, 1,148 injured, 1,200 with severe cold injuries, 614 with disease, and 318 to miscellaneous causes. The Japanese lost 2,351 men; only 28 were taken prisoner.*

Attu didn’t get much press. It was only as I looked up information for this column that I discovered the real significance of this historic battle.

We still were reeling from Pearl Harbor, as the Aleutian Island invasion took place a mere six months later. Perhaps it was to protect the public, to prevent a panic that news about the battle raging in the Bering Sea was blacked out. How many outside the military and the government knew at the time that the enemy was that close? Our military was tied up in Europe and the South Pacific. Little Attu paled in comparison.

Yet history would have been different had we lost Attu and the rest of the Aleutian Islands.

Never once in all his pain did my father ever complain or protest war. He knew the price that must be paid for freedom. Whether in Vietnam, Bosnia, or the Middle East, liberty’s price is the blood of our sons and daughters—no less than what God paid for our freedom from sin and its consequences.

Our eternal history would have been different had the battle for our souls not been waged and won two thousand years ago on a God-forsaken spit of land called Calvary. But this war, unlike human wars, changes lives for the better, restores dreams, and renews hope. Once we decide whose side we’re on, we are never the same.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NLT). Thank you, thank you, thank you, God! Amen.


From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

For we walk by faith, not by sight. —2 Corinthians 5:7 RSV

Years ago I took a leap of faith and resigned from my full-time job—a year after I first sensed God nudging me to do so.

For that year I wrestled. How did I know it was God’s voice I heard—and not echoes of my own desires? And how on earth, if I quit, would we make ends meet?

I believed God was able to provide—it says so right in the Bible: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). But it’s easier to believe a verse like that after the fact. And there’s a difference between “is able” and “will.”

This is where the rubber met the road.

After much prayer, I submitted my letter of resignation—and immediately the yearlong wrestling match ceased, and the tension evaporated. My shoulders felt as though a massive weight had been lifted. Why did I wait so long?

But my decision was tested—in an area where I least expected and cared most about. Three months after I received my last paycheck, my husband began a round of medical tests. This is a man who, in thirty years, took perhaps fifteen days off work due to sickness. And here we were, facing the unknown—in health, in job performance and hence employability, and in our future. Add to that all the missed work hours due to doctors’ appointments and medical tests that reflected in his paycheck.

God will provide, I told myself even when, in the spring, we received several past-due notices.

 “Wait until our income tax refund comes in,” I promised them all.I knew we could catch up because we got a bigger refund since my income had decreased. By May we were all caught up.

God continued to meet our needs. Editing jobs came just when the property taxes were due or the heating oil was low. The grant money our son received for college increased. More opportunities for freelance writing and speaking came. A change in our health insurance policy provided better benefits, including dental and vision—we both desperately need new eyeglasses—without additional cost for us.

I learned more than to trust God, more than what it means to be sure of what I hope for and certain of what I don’t see (Hebrews 11:1), more than how God blesses obedience. I learned to wait on God. Patience (ugh!) was cultivated in my impatient soul. And this, perhaps, was the most important lesson of all.

As I look back on that year, I don’t see lack. I see God’s provision, protection, and presence. He truly is able to take care of all my needs, able to handle anything that comes along, able to do exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), able to mold me into what He wants me to be (Philippians 1:6).

Are you sensing God’s nudging? Don’t be afraid to step out in faith because, you see, where the rubber meets the road is where God will be.

Dear God, You are just awesome! Amen.

Read and reflect on Lamentations 3:21–26 and Philippians 4:6–7.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.