Larkin Spivey Finding Faith In War

Sunday, September 30, 2012

This I Know

I attended church today in East Greenwich, Rhode Island and heard the minister mention Karl Barth, the famous Swiss theologian (1886-1968). Barth’s most famous work was his thirteen volume, 8000 page, Church Dogmatics. In 1962 Barth was asked by someone in the U. S. to summarize his theology in a few words. After thinking for a moment, he reportedly said: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” This quote is from the old, well-known children’s Christian song by Anna Bartlett Warner. This song goes back to my own childhood and was the subject of a series of the stories for my upcoming book, Stories of Faith and Courage from the Korean War, titled: "Crawl Before You Walk"

“Lord, if the mortar didn’t kill me, the shooting didn’t kill me, and the beating didn’t kill me, you must want me out of here. But I can’t walk. How can I get outta here?” As Pvt. Ed Reeves lay helpless on the frozen ground beside the now abandoned and destroyed truck convoy, he continued to pray. Suddenly, God seemed to answer him as a thought came to his mind: “You must crawl before you can walk.”

Painfully lifting himself to his hands and wounded knees, Reeves started crawling over snow-covered fields in the direction he hoped would take him to friendly lines. He passed more Chinese troops who somehow made no effort to stop him. Darkness fell, and he continued his slow, painful journey. He began to sing over and over, “Yes, Jesus loves me!” Finally, he felt the hardness of ice underneath him and knew that he was on the Chosen Reservoir. His hands and feet slipped frequently, causing him to hit the ice painfully. Each time he fell it took a greater effort to straighten his arms and get back to his knees. Exhaustion and the mind-numbing cold were almost overwhelming. Amazingly, the song of his childhood faith kept coming back to him: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Finally, almost a week after being first wounded, Ed Reeves was spotted on the ice by a Marines patrol. He was taken by jeep directly to an airstrip and loaded with other wounded men on a C-47. As the aircraft lifted off the rough runway, Reeves pondered how God never answered his prayers as he expected—but nevertheless: “He answered. Every time I asked God, He answered.”

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. ~Psalm 138:7