Without Leaving Home
“A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” These prophetic words of Christ about the division that would come in the last days to homes and families over faith in Him are increasingly being fulfilled. But the way in which they became a reality to Bertha Schmidt was a sensational surprise.
During the early years of Napoleon’s vicious wars, Denmark’s relationship brought about a great deal of displeasure. A hostile army force combining soldiers from Sweden and Russia, swept into Schleswig, the capital of the province.
On the road between Schleswig and Stralsund, the invaders brought destruction and desolation to village after village. Frightened people streamed from the homes everywhere to make their way to safety.
Bertha lived in a small cottage with her son and daughter-in-law in an even smaller village on that road of doom. When the news came that all the inhabitants where taking some meager possessions and leaving their homes, Bertha asked what the three of them should do.
Due to the freezing temperatures that came nightly, they decided that it would be best to stay right in their home and see what happened. Their decision was that it would be best to be killed by soldier’s gun than to slowly freeze to death in hiding somewhere.
They barricaded the front and back doors with their few pieces of furniture. They knew that it would do little good as the soldiers would simply burn down the resisting homes.
After placing all the furniture in a position to do the most good and after closing and locking all the windows and shutters, they sat down on the floor, dejected and tired.
Bertha took her Bible off her night stand and held it in her arms. After staring at it for a few minutes, she said, “Round us a wall our God shall rear, and our proud foes shall quail with fear.”
Her son was shocked! “Mamma,” he snapped, “Is your faith that strong? Do you really expect God to build a wall around our poor hut so strong and high that it will keep out an army?”
“Doesn’t the Bible say that ‘not a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father?’” she replied kindly but assuredly.
The son did not reply. The daughter-in-law equally was silent. But Bertha could feel the sharp knife of disbelief and ridicule. She wished that they, too, could trust God in this life and death situation.
The wintry January wind increased, making the three of them think of those poor neighbors and friends who had left their homes in desperation. As the noise of the wind grew louder, they knew that the storm was getting worse. Their friends had no chance of survival now.
Around midnight there was a lull in the storm. It brought an eerie feeling to their already troubled minds. When the big clock in the city hall sounded the first of twelve loud gongs, it, too, gave a pitiful noise as if it was spelling out doom for all who could hear.
After the twelfth gong had ended and the deep silence came again, it was not long before another sound penetrated. It was the sound of music for marching troops. It grew louder and louder as the enemy came closer and closer to the seemingly empty village.
Bertha, her son, and daughter-in-law knew that the fatal time had come. Her son reached over and grasped his wife’s hand. Then he took Bertha’s hand into his other hand. They sat on the floor, holding hands as the army approached.
Bertha, who was now holding her daughter-in-law’s hand, too, squeezed them both and once again said aloud, “Round us a wall our God shall rear. And our proud foes shall quail with fear.” It seemed to have no effect on either of the other two. “Just words of an old foolish lady,” was what the two young people were thinking. But the look on Bertha’s face revealed that to her, they were anything but foolish.
The tramping feet grew very loud, shouts from one soldier to another could be heard clearly and distinctly. They were burning and looting ever home. It was only a matter of time before the Schmidt home would go up in flames. Shrieks pierced the other tormenting sounds to let them know that some people had remained behind and were now paying for it with their lives.
The sound of crackling flames added to the almost unbearable agony of not being able to see when or by whom their destruction would begin. The uproar continued to grow louder and louder. Death and destruction were everywhere. It was terrifying, at least for the son and daughter-in-law at least. Bertha silently prayed with bowed head.
After what seemed to be an eternity of horror, the noise began to die down. Footsteps were heard fading away as if the invaders were marching on to the next helpless village. They waited and listened intently. Before long, silence prevailed again.
They agreed to wait until the morning rays of sunlight came before they attempted to look outside. Waiting in deadly silence was almost as bad as hearing the desperate cries of the invader’s victims. But they waited.
When Bertha got up off the floor and walked to a side window, she knew that God still controlled the universe. It was evident that the Lord had not only heard her prayer and declaration of faith, He had answered and honored it.
Bertha fell to her knees once again. Out loud she praised God for His mercy.
Two doubters, who had brought about a partial fulfillment in their lives of Christ’s words that “a man’s foes shall be those of his own household,” joyfully admitted their error through disbelief.
Looking through the shutter, all they could see was the glitter of white snow. From window to window the view was the same. Each shutter that they could open and see through revealed an identical story.
When they forced open the back door, they found that the snow had blown up in a pile higher than the house. After digging their way out the back and walking around the entire house, it was a thrill beyond words.
The snow had piled up in a gigantic drift all around the house, completely hiding it from sight.
They had been shut in by the covering of snow!