“There’s a real war out there, you know, you mustn’t risk your life.”
She looked up at me with earnestness in her pale cheeks and round opal eyes. Dark brown cascades rippled over her shoulders. She was too pretty a girl to leave, too pretty to run off and risk my life when I could live happily here with her… but no—I could not think of myself. The lives of hundreds of others were at stake. God had gifted me with the capability of healing the sick and wounded, so I had to use it for His glory.
“I understand your fears, Clarisse, but this is a risk I must take for the Lord. I will risk my life to save the people of France and to share with them the mysteries of God’s grace. And I will risk it for you, beloved—by helping others have the strength to fight this war, so you can be free.”
She breathed in my ear. “Oh, Pierre, I would rather be with you in the coldness of this place than flying on the wings of freedom without you.”
Her voice was worn and ragged from years of adversity. She was not innocent of troubles; she was afraid, because she knew well the capacity they had to hurt her.
I clutched her hand tightly and whispered against it. “I am not going to die, my love. Trust me, I am not going to die.”
“You can never be too sure, though. Can’t you think for once of yourself?” she asked quietly. Her heart thudded against me as I drew her shivering frame close and rested my chin on the top of her head. She continued, “You’ve always been caring for the sick and wounded, but someday you will wear yourself out, you will die. Then what will become of me? Perhaps you don’t mind yourself dying, but really, Pierre, what will I do without you?”
Withdrawing from my arms, she stared fixedly up at me, her chin trembling and silent tears dripping down her cheeks. What would she do?
I studied her carefully, as I tucked her soft hair behind her ears. “You are right, Clarisse—I am not one to bother about myself, but it is simply because I have learned that my life is in the hands of God, and His grace is something to be spread like wildfire. That is the only way all the wars of this world will end: by spreading God’s grace that covers all sin to even the most undeserving. So, beloved, do not be afraid if you find out I have been healing the wounds of the enemy. They don’t deserve it, but neither do any of us. And no person can truly live if they are never completely forgiven.”
I gazed down at her glistening eyes and slim shoulders. “And as for you, dear one, God is always with you, even if I die. He loves you and He cares for you—rely on Him, will you, my love? Will you place your life in His hands while I’m gone, and even when I return?”
“I will, Pierre,” she agreed, her face radiant with a new hope. “You are right—God is in control. He will take care of me while you are off healing the dying people of France. He will take care of you as well.” She smiled tenderly. “You are a good man, Pierre.”
Heat poured into my cheeks. I knew I didn’t deserve that praise. And yet her words gave me a more acute awareness of her love for me. How could I leave her? But I had to—but no. But yes. I determined to untangle myself from the mysteries of love, and I fixed my eyes on the ground, my thoughts on God, the One I’d be a most pitiable man without.
“Then now is when we would say farewell, my love.” I kissed her hand lightly, and then hastened out the door with my burlap sack over my shoulder.
I had to stop. That one word shook me with a feeling so severe I could not make sense of it. If I looked at her one more time, my heart might break from the knowledge of what I had to do. No matter the cost, the pain, no matter how much I loved her—I belonged to the Lord, and it was futile and worthless to think of myself and what I most wanted, when He had a far better plan for me. So I just stood in the doorway with my back to her.
“You will return to me?”
“Yes,” I assured her, “all in the good Lord’s timing. I will come back and marry you. You can be sure of that.” I took another step away.
“Do you promise?” she asked in a small, frail voice.
I looked back at her, just once, for the last time. Her beauty warmed me inside, as it had so many times before.
Collecting my thoughts, I considered telling her what I felt to say, but the truth ended up prying its way out of my mouth. “I can’t promise my return,” I said frankly. “The French Revolution isn’t an organized war—anything could happen. But I do promise I will try my very hardest.”
She nodded slowly, accepting it. “God be with you, Pierre.”
“And He with you, Clarisse.”
I turned away from her before my emotions could overpower the insistent Spirit within me. I straddled the old mare and set her off down the road, departing the fragile young woman all alone in the cold house. Tears sprung from my eyes as I rode through the snow with the sack full of food, medicine, and blankets.
I hadn’t been completely honest with her. No matter what, I was bound to die through this risky procedure of healing the sick and wounded on the streets of Paris, simply because I didn’t have a weapon. I wouldn’t defend myself, no matter what, even if I did have a musket. I wouldn’t shoot at anyone, because God saw them all as wandering souls in desperate need of a Savior—and He had perfect eyesight. Both my allies and enemies would be healed, and God would be glorified through me. But the French Revolution wasn’t an organized war. The enemy would likely fire at me even if I came to heal them. Indeed, the Spirit within me gave me the sense that this would surely happened, and that my time would soon end. I knew I would never see Clarisse again in that cold little house, and neither would we ever marry. But thank God we’d meet in a big warm one, filled with inexplicable light. There, at least, I was guaranteed to see her again, as a sister in Christ, and in a place where I could breathe free air at last.
As I rode nearer to the deafening sound of the gunshots, I prayed that the lives I saved physically would be saved spiritually through the words the Spirit gave me, and that they would discover the big, warm house as well. But for the first time since I had learned about God’s hand on my life, it took great strength to place my thoughts off myself, and place them on the road in front of me that led to the dying people I would heal. Nevertheless, I forced myself to look through God’s eyes, and see the hurt and suffering of the world. I asked for His strength to think of them and their pain, and to forget about my own. For if I did not look through His eyes and ask for His strength, I would fail. And if I failed to turn to His power, I would die trying to do good on my own—or worse, I would die forgetting the hundreds of lives at stake.
I could not think of myself.
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” – Acts 20:24 (NIV)