John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Living in Israel all these years, I often encounter amazing stories of God’s deliverance and grow increasingly fond of listening to the fascinating ways He shows His power. During our tour in England recently, we met a man whose family experienced a great miracle during WW1. He tells this incredible story...
That era evinced a dramatic and historic change in the tactics of warfare. Battle lines were formed by trenches and widespread use of chemical weapons often determined the outcome, since chemical warfare had not yet been banned by the Geneva convention.
During one such battle, the British faced a German attack with mustard gas. The British regiment, insufficiently equipped with gas masks, was addressed by commander Lt. Colonel Ernest Vaux (our friend’s great-great grandfather). He stood up and said to his battalion, "Friends, there is no use running… come up here and let us sing a hymn". In that dark and desperate moment, with poison filling the air and all hope evaporating, the soldiers rose out from the trenches and began to sing the powerful lyrics of "Abide with Me" in one accord.
“Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens Lord, with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away
Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou who changest not, abide with me
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness
Where is death's sting?
Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me
Abide with me, abide with me
As they sang, awaiting their undeniable fate, the wind suddenly began to blow the mustard gas in the other direction. Not a single one of those soldiers died that day. When the war was over Captain Wade (then Private Wade) recalled the miracle of that day and made a painting of the men who rose up singing "Abide with Me." The painting entitled, "The Miracle of Ypres" features a silhouette of the Lord watching over the soldiers in that darkest hour; rescued by Him to fight again another day.
Often when it seems that all hope is lost, God will miraculously intervene for those who abide in Him. We are told in Psalm 11 that He "tests the righteous". Though it may seem to you that His eyes are closed, be assured that He neither slumbers nor sleeps, and that abiding in Him is the securest place on Earth; so that whether He intervenes miraculously or not, you will be safe in Him, who will never leave nor forsake you.