God Allows U-Turns: Faith in a Foxhole
By Tamara Swinson
-- (Excerpt from God Allows U-Turns: American Moments) Dean couldn't believe the terror around him when he arrived in Okinawa. With rockets on one shoulder and a bazooka on his other, he fled to the nearest foxhole. Lifeless bodies lay everywhere. Most were members of Bonsai and the Kamikaze -- suicide groups who would get drunk on saki and shoot as many rounds of ammunition at Americans as they could before they were wounded enough to die.
Dean had already experienced much in his nineteen years. Two years earlier, he had married Betsy. Now, he thought of her every day as he huddled in a foxhole. Betsy was his high school sweetheart, and he knew their love would last forever. He wrote to her every day. This day, though, the day after he'd arrived on Okinawa, was different.
"I was shot up here," he said, pointing to his hip. "(The bullet) went right into my bone."
A medic ran to him. The young private shouted, "Get down!" As the medic ducked, a bullet went through Dean's tattered, green uniform pocket. It miraculously missed flesh. The medic ran to safety, leaving Dean alone. Dean expected to die.
Suddenly the end of a rope landed near him and he heard someone calling. "Hey, can you hold on?" Dean grabbed the rope and was dragged ten feet into a foxhole.
"I prayed for what seemed like a long time. I don't remember what I said ... just that I made a lot of promises." Dean laughs. The next thing he knew, after his one day in Okinawa, he was sent home to heal.
Although Dean can't remember the specific prayers, he knew God was there. "Yet it wasn't until years later that I understood how important God really was in the whole scheme of things," Dean says.
"There is certainly no one reason why God allowed me to live that day. My life is about day-to-day contentment. It's about coming home and sharing life with Betsy, and then having three boys together. It's about spending time with my family and friends."
While Dean was at Okinawa, Betsy had knitted sweaters for the Red Cross as her way of "doing her part." Sixty years after returning from active duty in World War II, Dean still remembers what it was like to lie in a foxhole, bleeding and asking God to let him see his young wife again. And Dean can also still remember what it was to come home and see Betsy again.
Betsy places a lovely, box frame on the table. It displays Dean's badges of courage, honor, and commitment, his uniform pocket with the bullet hole, yellowed envelopes that once held letters he sent to his beloved, pins he received, and the bullet removed from Dean's hip.
For Betsy and Dean, the American Moment we know as World War II is a bittersweet time in their lives. It set the stage for the years that would follow as their love grew.
I can't help but wonder where I would be had Dean not lived, because Dean is my grandfather. His purpose, his U-Turn from certain death, was life. Because he was only 19-years-old when he served at Okinawa, he had no clue of the goodness a close relationship with God would bring to his life. Though he cried to God in desperation, he barely understood real faith back then. All he needed was "faith of a mustard seed," and that was apparently enough.
So, my grandpa is not a Nobel Prize winner. He is not rich or famous. But he embraces the assurance that God has always been there, and that because his life was spared, his relationship with his Father progresses even now. He and Betsy both realize that only by the grace of God can the three of us sit together, eating warm pecans from their tree. It is only by God's grace that he lived to tell the story of true faith and love in a foxhole.
Excerpted from God Allows U-Turns: American Moments compiled by Allison Bottke (with Cheryl Hutchings)
Copyright © 2006; ISBN 9781586605810 Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
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