Night had fallen in Iraq. The sullen and heavyhearted soldiers sat quietly within makeshift tents, trying to gather thoughts and catch a few hours of sleep if possible. The fighting had become consistent over the last few weeks, leaving the men exhausted from lack of proper rest. By the dim light of the lantern, Ryan Wakefield reclined against his cot. Ryan was thinking of what to write to his wife, Megan, back in the State of Alabama. Tomorrow would mark their twelfth wedding anniversary.
Looking back, it seemed as if it were just yesterday that he stood at the alter waiting to say “I do” to the most beautiful woman he thought ever to walk before him. Meg was a down-home country girl, full of life and a positive outlook in all she saw. It still amazed him that she married him and not some rich man that could give her everything a woman could want or need.
Church was a very important part in Meg’s life as a child and is still. Every Sunday she would wake up early, giving enough time to see me off to work, then get ready for Sunday school, and still have time to clean up before she left. One morning it just so happened to be an off day and was looking forward to catching up on that rest my body so desperately needed. Meg had other plans for me. Meg turned to me with those beautiful baby blue eyes asking in that sweet voice I love so, “Ryan, please come to church with me this morning. I promise you it will be worthwhile.”
He lay his head back down on the pillow and replied, “Not today love. Next time maybe” The look on her face was not only disappointment, but hurt as well. She had been asking him for months to go with her to church, and he never did.
A deep sigh escaped him as he closed his eyes hoping to sleep until it was time for him and his team to make their rounds. The letter, of course, would be written tomorrow. Ryan’s way of thinking was you could always do it the next day, which in truth is not the best thing to do.
Morning came way too early. We got up, grabbed our weapons, and started on our way to the post we were to be patrolling. All was fine for the first few hours, then suddenly a stream of bullets flew threw the air from shooters atop one of the buildings.
“Take cover!” Ryan yelled as our weapons raised firing back at those that opposed us. He looked to the right, hearing Matt, a high school buddy of his, scream as a bullet ripped through him. Never in his life had so much anger consumed him as it did right then, to see a dear friend hurt before his very eyes.
Leaving his post, Ryan ran over to where he lay, grabbing underneath Matt’s arms dragging him away from the rain of fire. Then like a water faucet, it stopped. Looking up, a man fell helplessly from the top of the roof, landing a mere 20 feet from where we were.
Ryan’s trembling fingers pressed against the bleeding wound. “Hang on Matt, help is coming,” He cried.
Matt looked up at Ryan with pain-filled eyes and said quietly, “I’m going to go be with the Lord now.” His body went limp and his eyes glazed. “NO Matt. Stay with me buddy!” Ryan exclaimed as he felt for a pulse. It was no use. Matt had died in his arms. After Matt’s body was loaded into the truck, Ryan and the rest of his team finished their patrol then headed back to camp.
Ryan sat on the edge of his cot with his hands clasped together so tightly that they had turned white. He was thinking over and over the words Matt had spoken before he had died. In that instant he knew what Matt had meant and what Meg had tried for so long to get him to understand. Standing up Ryan left the tent in search of the Chaplain. Once he found him Ryan, a strong, silent man, began to cry. He asked the Chaplain to tell him how to become saved by Gods loving Grace, the same God that his Meg loved and the God that Matt knew.
The Chaplain smiled as he took Ryan by the hand, leading him in that prayer. “Dear God” he began, and each word the Chaplain said aloud, Ryan prayed it within his heart. When he was done, Ryan felt a peace unlike anything he had ever known. “Thank you Sir” Ryan replied, then wiped his eyes and headed back to camp.
Picking up the notebook and pen he wrote:
To My Beloved Meg:
For all those times you prayed for me and begged me to go with you to church, a simply thank you won’t ever be enough. You believed in me when no one else did and you stayed with me even through the hard times. I love you my sweet Meg and I write to tell of what has happened in my heart since I have been away from you. Today I watched as my friend, Matt, was shot and killed. During his last breath he said to me that he was going home to be with the Lord. I never realized what an impact we have on others until today. Those words made me see what you have been revealing to me all this time. My love, today I asked Jesus to save me. I don’t want to live another day without Him in my life. Your faith opened my eyes to what I was missing and now my heart is full with His love.
I must go now, but know that I love you more than life. With you and God in my life, I have all the protection and love one man could ever want or need.
Love your Husband
Tears streamed down the soldiers face as he folded the letter. He prayed then and there that this letter would reach his wife and she know how much he missed her and needed her and what a true inspiration she was to him .
Meg got the letter and after reading it, fell upon her knees weeping and thanking God for saving the one man she loved. It gave her a peace of mind knowing God was now with him.
Three weeks later Ryan Wakefield came home and was baptized that following Sunday morning.