Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)
TITLE: Providence on the Red Sands
By Crista Darr
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I can see that chaos reigns on the beach ahead, yet still I long for land. I am heartsick, seasick, and craving a cigarette.
The boat hits the sand and I leap from the vessel sighing with relief to be on solid ground. Explosions rock the earth beneath my feet. Within seconds, a round of machine gun fire whizzes over my head. I drop to the ground and raise my rifle. I see no enemy - only the beach littered with the dead and dying.
I hear a thud to my right and turn to see the mangled remains of my platoon leader. I push my face into the blood-covered sand but cannot escape the screams of agony as enemy fire cuts through my friends. I hear a boy on my left crying for his mother and I remember mine.
Mama fought her battles in the hill country of South Texas. She and Jesus waged war to free Pa from the enemy of drunkenness. Mama taught me to pray. Every night she would kneel down in the living room with my brothers, sisters, and me and call out to Jesus. I remember the comfort and strength that name gave her. I remember the victory when Daddy began to call that name too. Jesus.
I guess I left Jesus back home to take care of Mama. I wanted to be my own man. I had strayed a long way from the path Mama wished for me. I never prayed after I enlisted, but if ever a man were to pray, it was on that bloody beach in Normandy. I knew Mama was a warrior and I followed her lead.
But You, O Lord, are a shield about me. My glory, and the One who lifts my head. Where did that come from? The verse memorized in Sunday School so many years ago became brand new.
Coughing and spitting sand from my mouth and nose, I raise my head to search the heavens for any sign of God. Even the sky is at war as red tracers pierce through thick dust, obscuring any hope of peaceful blue. A guttural wail escapes from the depths of my desperation, “Jeeesuus!” His name takes flight over deafening bombs and bullets. “Jeeesuus!”
The boy beside me stops screaming for his mother and is quiet. I look at him with fear that he has died. His eyes lock with mine. He is torn up by shrapnel but alive. It was the name of Jesus that calmed him.
A strength not my own lifts me to my knees and I crawl forward, pulling him out of the rising tide and across the bloody sands. My eyes dart back and forth, heart racing. Then I see it! The concrete wall on the embankment, the pillbox we call it, is the source of the heavy machine gun slaughter. I set my sights toward the pillbox and send several rounds of semi-automatic fire. For a moment, the tracers from the box stop and many of us make it across the beach.
As the sun sets that evening, only seven men remain in the fighting force of Company A. All others lay dead or wounded. It was not by any heroism or untold skill that any of us survived that day. It was only the sovereign hand of God.
I take off my helmet and run my fingers through my black matted hair. Turning the helmet repeatedly in my hands, I notice two holes where a German bullet had carved a passageway.
I look toward the heavens, no longer streaked with fire but painted pink with the brush of sunbeams, and thank Him. He is my shield. Unsure of what battles tomorrow may bring, I rest in knowing Who holds tomorrow.
*Bible verse taken from Psalm 3:3 (NASB)
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