Bert shone. When he smiled, he glowed with the light and beauty of the Holy Spirit. I know many people who love the Lord with all their heart and soul. But they don’t shine. Why? I don’t know. But let me tell you about one incident in Bert’s life, many years ago.
Bert was born in Holland, in the 1920’s. By the time the Second World War broke out he was a young, unmarried man working on his father’s farm. His father, as so many godly Dutch, became involved in Resistance work. Eventually, he was arrested and imprisoned for a few weeks. When this hardy Dutch farmer was released , and was home once more, he went to bed and wept for a few days. I don’t think his family ever discovered exactly what had happened during his internment – but, a Dutch father weeping? Most unusual! I have never forgotten that. But that is not Bert’s story, really, This is the incident he was involved in:
One day, a group of young partisans were sent out on a job from Bert’s farm. One, badly injured, found his way back and needed medical care immediately. By early morning, he was packed on a farm wagon under a load of potatoes, enroute to the doctor. Bert was driving, and very conscious of his loud groans. Still, all went well until some young German soldiers asked whether they might hitch a ride, and jumped into the back of the wagon. Bert, of course, was in no position to say no. He had to keep driving both the soldiers and the injured man for several miles. The wounded patriot made not a sound and got to the doctor’s successfully. But I could see Bert’s emotional reaction to the trauma of that drive even fifty years later. He could hardly talk about it. Briefly, his “light” went out.
And it made me more aware of the pain we all carry – even those who have “happy endings”. Bert was marked for life by his experiences during the war. He shone, he glowed, but with a vein, at least, of terror and heartbreak underneath. Life is, in many ways, so very sad.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus! And to Bert: No “Rest in Peace” but, “I know you are resting in peace.” Complete peace. At last. Bert, I am so happy for you!
And while I am speaking of the Dutch experience of war, let me recommend some children’s books dealing with that very thing. These adventures show beautiful faithfulness to God, family, and country, but are never sentimentalized. My boys absolutely loved them when they were young:
First, “Journey Through the Night” by Anne DeVries
Second, the series of war stories by Piet Prins-google his name and you will come to them.
Finally, the story of Bert’s family was written up as “A Mighty Fortress in the Storm”. ..Not a child’s book, but interesting!