It is midnight on the eve of war. The house is quiet. Everything that needed to be said has been. The new man of the house, our thirteen year old son Ben, has been given final instructions. My daughter Abby took things in stride and just kissed me good night. My youngest does not understand the concept of time and was impervious to the day. Our eldest insulated by college.
The last thing to be packed in my rucksack is my bible. Then, I lay holding my wife while she slept, or pretended too. Morning came, the deployment began, fears were conquered, nineteen months spent at war, the family grew strong, and we overcame.
Sometime in the early months I realized the mistake I made on the eve of war. The last thing I packed was not my bible, it was Bev's. Every few years she and I go shopping for bibles. So, our bible is always the same, except in the front of hers it says, "presented to Beverly Bjertness by Corey Bjertness". And in the front of mine it says "presented to Corey Bjertness by Beverly Bjertness". So, it was at the least an honest mistake.
Thus, in a moment, on the eve of war the two chief symbols of hope married together in an oversight, creating for me the perfect reminder of life. Two things have taken me to the other side of war - the love of a woman and the love of the word. Both have been tested through fire. Both have stood the test. Both have endured my sorrow and my joy. Both have been stronger than I.
What does the love a good woman and the faithfulness of God’s word get you? It gets you to the other side. It gets you to the place called hope in the midnight of your despair. It finds the island of peace in the sea of war. It finds the mountain of contentment on the plains of restlessness. It gets you to the other side.
When I look at the bible in my rucksack it is not a book, it’s a symbol. It is a symbol of God providing for my every need and then taking time to remind me of this very fact. Perhaps, pilfering Bev’s bible on the eve of war was not my oversight, but God’s foresight. God knew I would need the constant reminder of his presence and care in my life. Perhaps…I dare to hope in a God that cares about the little things.
"…for love is as strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can it be drown, nor purchased." Song of Solomon 8:6-7