by David Sisler

What do most men want out of life? What do most women want out of life? According to some interesting research the majority of us all want the same thing. Surprisingly, it is not money. It is not power or prestige which top the list. Not even health. What most of us want out of life is courage.

And in recent days we have seen an outpouring of courage, the likes of which we never suspected we possessed, and pray will never be hidden again!

Walk back in history with me to Saturday afternoon, June 10, 1944, to the small village of Oradour-Sur-Glane, France.

Even though France had been occupied by the Nazis for four years, German soldiers entered Oradour-Sur-Glane on that day for the first time. For reasons that have never been discovered, a detachment of troops was sent to that out-of-the-way town, to exact retribution for the death of a single German officer, killed by members of the French underground. They were not sent to the region where the soldier had been killed.

Sturmbannführer Adolph Dickmann, the officer in charge of the troops told the mayor, "You must select 50 people. These will be shot to make up for the death of one German officer."

The mayor said, "I name myself. And if that is not sufficient, I also name my family."

It was not sufficient.

All the men in the town were herded into the several barns in the area and were machine-gunned. Then the barns were burned to the ground.

Next, all of the women and children were taken to the church. They were all machine-gunned and the church was burned to the ground. Then every other building - 328 in total - was burned to the ground.

642 people died, 254 of them were children.

There were seven survivors: five men who pretended to be dead and escaped when the barn where they lay, covered with the bodies of their neighbors, was fired, a child who ran to the next town as soon as he saw the soldiers approaching, and Madame Marguerite Rouffange.

Madame Rouffange saw her husband, her son, her two daughters, and her seven-month-old grandchild shot and burned. She was shot five times, but managed to crawl out of the church as it was being burned.

No one lives in that village today. Visitors to the site see only two signs as they walk through the charred streets: "Scene of Execution" and "Silence." The entire 300 acres of the town is enclosed as a monument to the courage of 642 people who died and the seven people who lived.

Abraham was God's man. Abraham had been told by God that he would become the father of a nation whose citizens would be as easily numbered as an astronomer could number heaven's stars or as easily as a marine biologist could number the grains of earth's sand. And God told Abraham that he would become the progenitor of the Messiah.

When Abraham was 100 years old, Isaac, the son God promised, was born. Approximately 20 years later, with no grandchildren in sight, God told Abraham, "Take your son Isaac, your only son of the promise, whom you love, to a mountain I will show you. There on that mountain kill him and offer him as a sacrifice to me."

With courage that defies description, Abraham took Isaac to the designated place, tied him with ropes, laid him on the wood, raised a knife, and drew back his arm to kill his son. Only at that point did God intervene. A ram, caught in a thick brush by its horns, became the acceptable sacrifice.

Most of us, thankfully, will never encounter situations like the ones faced by Abraham, or by Madame Rouffange, or by the firefighters and police and other rescue workers in New York City, Washington, DC, or western Pennsylvania. But there are moments which require courage that is no less extreme.

There is the courage of the worker who daily faces the monotony of a tedious job while his supervisor consistently overlooks him, but he does the job, and does it well because it is the only way for him to provide for his family.

There is the courage of the mother who gives every waking moment and many sleepless nights to her severely handicapped child because she wants her little one to know the personal love and personal care of his family.

There is the courage of the young person who faces the pressure of his peers and says "No" to cigarettes and alcohol and drugs and promiscuity because he knows that life is more than the pleasure of a moment and the risk is simply not worth taking.

And there is the courage of the man, woman, or young person who says to all who will listen, "Jesus Christ died for me. Whatever the cost, I will live for Him." That is courage!


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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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