Archived Story

SIMPLE TRUTH: Was it faith or were we foolish?

Published 10:00am Monday, October 22, 2012

By Charles Christmas

The September following D-Day during World War II, Louise, a business major, and I, a pre-med major, became acquainted at the University of Alabama. She and I had previously experienced real and sincere personal commitments to Jesus Christ and his will for our lives. By November, we possessed life-long commitments of love for each other. During Thanksgiving break, I returned home to personally share with my fine hometown girlfriend this new development and direction in my life; not easy for either of us, especially me.

Louise knew me as a premed student, but I knew, deep within, that I was seeking confirmation of God’s will for my future. Would I go into the medical field or pastoral ministry. Being aware that I must either join a military service branch of my choice by my 18th birthday, or be drafted without a choice, I joined the Navy Hospital Corps during the Christmas holidays. I believed that if the medical field was God’s plan for my future, he would confirm it through my hands-on experience.

I was scheduled to be inducted on Feb. 19. Although our love and commitment was real and enduring without it, having an engagement ring on Louise’s finger would be especially meaningful and practical for my beautiful sweetheart, who would be left without me on the university campus. The small ring was purchased with the savings from high school employment. I placed it on her finger the night before my induction. She would treasure that ring for 65 years, until it was stolen in a hospital three years ago. I replaced it with a slightly larger, 1940’s era replica, which our jeweler had obtained from an estate sale.

For me, it was boot camp, hospital corps school and then assignment for duty to the naval hospital on Lake Geneva in New York state. Thousands of tuberculosis patients from the entire Navy and Marine Corps were housed in this facility.

Committed Christian sailors and civilians were found in boot camp and throughout every location because I was searching for them. The same was true of opportunities for witness, spiritual growth, Christian fellowship, Christian service and worship.

Louise and I wrote each other daily. At the end of her sophomore year, she returned to her Thomasville hometown to teach business subjects in her high school, keep books for the Ford company and to wait until we could return to college together. This was all genuine and practical love and encouragement for me. All income, beyond personal needs, was used to assist her brother’s commitment to underwrite her college expenses through graduation. During the Thomasville months, she was involved in leadership with Christian youth groups and rural Vacation Bible Schools.

God’s call to preaching and pastoral ministry never left my mind and heart, but rather grew in intensity. So, one day, on my knees in a private area of the Navy hospital, I told the Lord, “I give myself to preach your word.” Immediately, in a letter to Louise, I asked, “What would your response be if I told you I had answered God’s call to preach?” Immediately she wrote me and answered, “Whether you become a doctor, preacher, farmer or whatever, it does not matter; God has called me to be your wife.”

Our war with Japan and Germany came to an end, and the process of discharging military personnel began. I was late in and last out. Louise and I sought the Lord’s direction about college, and we were accepted by Howard College in Birmingham for the fall of 1946. She enrolled in the beginning quarter. When discharged, I came straight from the separation center in New York to Birmingham, where I was allowed to enroll three weeks late for the quarter. However late, we were once again together on campus!

God’s grace had brought us through some two years of engagement while separated. Now, his grace would also carry us through the 15 coming months on campus, and miraculously open the door and make possible our wedding. There is no explanation for this other than grace, God’s grace. “Not unto us, O, Lord, not unto us; but unto thy name be glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” Psalm 15:1.

(Note: This column will not always continue as an autobiography. Please allow the two previous articles, along with this one and the next, to serve as a four-part series summarizing God’s grace on our journey from birth to the wedding altar.)

Next week: “From Reunion to Union.”

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.

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