It was a work of Providence I might have missed. I have no idea how long the book sat on the shelf waiting for me to buy it. But I do know it was there just for me–just for the moment I would need it.
That moment would be one every mother who has watched her son go to war knows. It’s an indescribable emptiness. But an almighty God can reach down to fill a heart’s void. And He can use any little nook or cranny to do so.
My daughter and I were in an antique store killing time as we waited to see my son off. He was deploying to Iraq. While we shopped, his unit was on base packing equipment. Families would see our soldiers later that evening for a short time before they left for their departure point.
A yearlong deployment lay ahead.
But there on the shelf sat his favorite book. It cost only a couple dollars. The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck. How good it would be to give him a book he loved to carry with him.
But there was more.
As we were helping him pack later and preparing to say farewell, my daughter picked it up and read the back cover flap.
“This book can be sent to a serviceman anywhere in the world for the price of a postage stamp.”
The book was copyrighted 1942. Published for soldiers during World War II–when my father served–it landed in the hands of my soldier son decades later.
Buck’s masterpiece is about a man who battles hunger and injustice. Not quite war–rather wars of a different sort. He had moments of glory, times he didn’t do the right thing.
He was, in short, like all of us.
Even before my son read it, it was a book I had come to love. My husband’s favorite book. Paper ideas about important things in life. Paper becomes glue connecting those who’ve read a book and discussed its meaning.
When my son left for war, he carried a piece of home with him.
I still had moments of emptiness, moments of worry during that year. But a great God had put a book on a shelf for us to find that day–to remind us that He sees. He cares. He loves.
Today is the official Veterans’ Day–Say thanks to a vet this weekend. And remember to thank a great God for them.
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