By Dr. James C. Denison
President, the Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Texas
May 19, 2010
Topic: true discipleship
The cloud of his presence
We are learning to enroll in Jesus’ school through a lifestyle of communion with him in prayer. Why pray to an omniscient God who knows our request before we make it? Not to inform him, but to position ourselves to receive all that his grace intends to give.
Consider this example. It was 1945, and Spencer January, a lifetime resident of Dallas, Texas, was a soldier in the U. S. Army’s 35th Infantry Division, 137th Infantry, Company I. They were pushing through the Rhineland region of West Germany toward the Elbe River to meet the Russian troops.
On March 9 the American troops were ordered to move into Ossenburg, Germany, where a factory that had once manufactured soap was now producing gun powder and other war products. As Spencer and the rest of Company I were cautiously making their way through a wooded area, word came that the company ahead of them had been hit hard and they were to replace it.
When his company arrived at the scene, Spencer was appalled at what met his eyes. Only a handful of badly wounded soldiers, hiding behind a stone house at the edge of the woods, had survived. Straight ahead a 200-yard stretch of open field, bordered on the far side by thick woods, was covered with the bodies of dead American soldiers.
Three nests of German machine guns had mounted this fierce assault. To try to cross that flat, open field meant suicide, yet there was no other road into the town. As the order was given to advance, Spencer prayed desperately, “God, you’ve got to do something.” Thinking of his wife and tiny son back home, he pleaded, “Please, do something.”
Their advance began. Just as the soldier at the front took his first step, something to the left caught their eye. A fluffy white cloud appeared out of nowhere and settled on the ground, completely obscuring the Germans’ line of fire.
Taking advantage of this miraculous turn of events, Spencer and his fellow soldiers bolted into the clearing and ran for their lives. Safe in the sheltering woods on the other side, his heart pounding in his ears, Spencer hid behind a tree and watched as the last American soldier raced to safety. He will never forget what happened next: the instant the last soldier scrambled to safety, the cloud vanished.
The Germans, thinking they still had the American soldiers pinned down behind that stone house, radioed its position to their artillery. Within minutes the house was blown to bits.
But that’s not the end of the story. Two weeks later a letter arrived from Spencer’s mother back in the States. “Son, what in the world was the matter on such and such a day,” she asked, pinpointing the very day and time that Spencer and Company I had faced such grave danger.
“You remember Sister Tankersley from our church? Well, she called me that morning and told me that the Lord had awakened her at 1:00 in the morning and said, ‘Spencer is in serious trouble. Get up now and pray for him.’ Sister Tankersley said she prayed for you until 6:00, when she had to go to work. She told me that the last thing she prayed before getting off her knees was, ‘God, whatever danger Spencer is in, just cover him with your cloud.'”
What cloud is God waiting to send your way?