Grandpa Kindred only shared a few of his wartime experiences with us. Grandpa was a combat engineer in Patton’s Third Army during the Battle of the Bulge and the push into Germany. Being a combat engineer often meant being in front of the infantry. Think about that for a moment, not exactly the place most of us would want to be. One event that Grandpa did talk about was the crossing of the Sauer River at Echternach Belgium.
Crossing the Sauer meant entering the German homeland. The crossing was heavily opposed and made even more difficult by the flooding river. The job of the combat engineers was to build a temporary bridge across the river so the infantry could take the ground. Several things were tried to get that first cable across. They tried swimming. They tried bazooka rockets with a cable tied to the fins. They tried boats. None of this was without casualties. Under fire and fighting the river they eventually built the bridge.
The crossing at Echternach is not much more than a blip in most WWII history books, but it meant a great deal to the men that were there. It was their success. It was their nail in Nazi Germany’s coffin. One of my grandpa’s buddies even used his experience for a college paper once he made it back home. They crossed a river and built a bridge. It doesn’t seem like much but it is.
It may seem that I’m forgetting what Lambchow is all about, but there is a point to Grandpa’s story. These men were citizen soldiers. Grandpa was a mechanic before the war and he continued as a mechanic after the war. They were just regular folks thrown into an unimaginable fight. They were like you and I. Most of you are familiar with Paul’s description of God’s armor in Ephesians 6:10-17. We know that our enemy is not flesh and blood, but we also tend to quickly forget it. What I’m struck by the most is the first word following Paul’s memorable metaphor. Pray. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18, NLT) Pray. Prayer is where the battle is fought. This is our Echternach, our river crossing. Pray. Not just for our needs but for all believers everywhere. Take special note of that: “all believers everywhere.” Pray. Not by our own might but in God’s armor of salvation, righteousness before God through Jesus, truth, bringing Christ’s peace, protected by faith, and empowered by His word. Prayer is that first rope crossing the raging flood to bring God’s good news of grace, love, forgiveness, peace, joy, and purpose to those in darkness.