It was May, 1915. Young George Craft had enlisted in Saint John the previous August, soon after war broke out. Now he and what was left of his battalion were fighting for their lives in the mire of Ypres, heavily outnumbered by the Germans but holding their own for six days and seven nights without rest. “It was fearful. Hell could be no worse,” George wrote to his mother.
But George had something more powerful than anything the enemy could throw at him. His mother had given him a Bible before he went to the front, and he was putting it to good use. He always kept it with him, tucked in his shirt pocket, right next to his heart.
It saved his life.
On May 26, a German bullet aimed at George’s chest lodged in the pages of his Bible, leaving him unhurt. God’s Word had protected him when nothing else could, and he knew it. He sent the Bible, the bullet still lodged in its pages, home to his mother as a testimony to God’s provision.
I’d be willing to bet she sent him a replacement by return mail.
George’s remarkable experience is a good illustration of the nature of God’s Word.
First, the Bible is a gift. God has given us the Scriptures. We didn’t have to beg for them; we didn’t have to earn them on our own merits (mercifully, since in that case we still wouldn’t have them!). God gave them to us because He knows we need them, for teaching, for wisdom, for comfort, for strength. He knows we need something we can put our hands on, read and re-read, call to mind in any situation. The Bible is a gift.
Second, the Bible is a gift not from just anyone, but from a parent who loves us and wants to be in close relationship with us. Just as George and his troop-mates longed for letters from home to keep them going through desperate days in appalling conditions, our Father God has provided words that make His love for us clear, express His care for us, and encourage us that no matter what, He is always with us.
Third, as is true for any gift, we only know what we have in the Bible when we actually open it. It seems clear that George Craft opened his, and often. It stands to reason that he carried his Bible in his shirt pocket because he wanted it always close at hand. George accepted God’s gift and showed that he knew its value by using it.
Fourth, the right place for God’s Word is close to our hearts. There are a lot of places we can keep the Bible – on a shelf, in a zippered case, on a bedside table. But unless we keep the word close to our hearts, it won’t guide or guard our hearts. George kept it physically close to his heart and it stopped an enemy bullet. We can keep God’s Word in our hearts by learning it so well that it comes to mind when we need it most. When, as David did, we hide God’s Word in our hearts, it can absorb an attack of the enemy aimed straight at our hearts.
Fifth, the fitting response to the power of God’s Word is our own testimony to its effectiveness in our lives. We first give thanks to God for His provision, but then we give glory to Him so that others can know the life-giving capacity He freely offers through His Word.
In this world, we try to arm ourselves and protect ourselves and advance ourselves with all kinds of weapons and armor and strategies. We spend a lot of time, effort and money in the process. But God offers us all we will ever need in His Word and in relationship with Him. It comes at a staggering cost, but it’s a price Jesus willingly paid. It costs us dearly only when we walk away from it.
If I want to be armed, God’s Word is the most effective weapon in existence. If I want optimum protection from the enemy, I’ll keep it close to my heart. I’ll let it transform my mind and my motives – allow it to tear down the strongholds Satan encourages me to build and maintain. I’ll tell others how God has used it in my life. I’ll read it as a longed-for letter from my Father, and re-read and savor and absorb it so I can know Him better, love Him more, and serve Him as He wants me to.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and everything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. — 2 Cor 10: 3-5