I enjoy reading histories of all sorts, in part to help me understand and appreciate how we got to where we are, especially in the United States. Of particular interest to me are histories of World War II, in no small part because I want to remember and honor the sacrifice and courage of those who earned the freedom we enjoy today. A recent history, written so realistically that I felt as though I was in the action, is Brothers In Arms by James Holland. The author recounts the exploits of the Sherwood Rangers, a British tank regiment, from North Africa through Normandy at D-Day, and to the end in Germany.
While the book is a factual war history, with all the gruesome detail of death and destruction, I was moved by what I call a “thin thread of faith” in the form and function of one Rev. Capt. Leslie Skinner. He certainly wasn’t the focus of the narrative or remotely the hero of the story, yet there he was as a small part of every chapter, devoting himself to his brothers in arms. He consoled them where he could but most often just listened, as young men (mostly late teens and early twenties), poured out their agonizing fears and the crushing remorse over constantly losing close friends. Then Rev. Skinner made it his mission to help retrieve bodies and make certain they received a Christian burial. His faith sustained him and, by extension, sustained those around him. He carried in his person the “thin thread of faith”, a faith given by Almighty God as a gift to us, his people (Ephesians 2:8,9).
So, is there any parallel in that story for today? I think so. We may not be in the middle of artillery shelling, machine gun fire, land mines and snipers, but we do face evil in the world today—from wars, rumors of wars, school shootings, rogue nations threatening nuclear annihilation, disrespect for authority, pandemics and the list goes on. And yet we, Immanuel, are woven into that “thin thread of faith”. The thread may at times look flimsy and insufficient but, in reality, it is mighty and indestructible, stretching from Creation to eternity. Consider God’s words to Israel in Deuteronomy 32: 6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you”. Then these same words are repeated immediately in verse 8 as though to make sure we get it! In truth, the rest of the chapter includes God’s warning that the people will turn to other gods and forsake the One true God. And yet God in Jesus takes action to ensure that the” thin thread of faith” runs through those who accept Him as Savior.
By the grace and mercy of God, we inherit a privilege to carry on in the same faith and resolve as Rev. Skinner, in small ways and large, whether we seem to be a major story line or a” thin thread of faith”, forever connecting God to his people.