MY BIBLE SCHOOL
Deep in the forest of the dark Silesian mountain, nestled a little cottage. It belonged to Grimez, the forester or keeper of the wild tract of woodland. Night fell, but a warm glow of candlelight shone out through the cottage windows.
Stephanie, Grimez's wife, sat sewing, her nimble fingers fashioning a coat for
her husband. Her mother read by candlelight. The hours wore on and the darkness
deepened. Stephanie's face grew anxious with the passing of time. Finally she
broke the silence. "Mother, I wish he'd come. It's unlike him to stay out
so late. The woods are not safe a night."
grandmother looked up. "Are you worried my dear? Grimez is a capable man.
Don't you thin] he can protect himself from wild beasts?"
not beasts I fear so much as men!"
he capture the robbers that troubles people on the roads?" Grandmother
queried. thought they were all safely behind bars."
are, except one. Their chieftain escaped I try so not to think of it, but he's
furious with Grime: for catching his band. They say he's sworn revenge If. it
were not that I know the God of heaven is with us to protect us, I wouldn't be
able to sleep at all. I only wish Grimez would pray too. All I can do is plead
that God will have mercy on him, even in his unbelief and rebellion."
picked up the big family Bible. "Let's worship together, dear, and read the
promises of God. Then you'll find peace for your soul. You can safely trust your
husband to the care of our merciful Lord."
opened the big Book to one of her favorite passages: "In thee, 0 Lord, do I
put my trust," she read. "Be thou my strong habitation.... Deliver me,
0 my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and
the seventy-first psalm, the two women knelt together. "O God, have mercy
on my poor husband," Stephanie prayed. "Protect him, and may he come
to trust in Thy almighty hand. Protect us as well, as we lie down to rest. And
have mercy on this robber chieftain. Turn him from his wicked ways, and may he
also find peace in serving Thee."
they rose from their knees Stephanie's eyes shone with hope and courage.
"Now 'I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only
makest me dwell in safety.' "
was still quoting the Bible as Grimez opened the door. "My dear
husband," she cried, "I'm so glad to see you. I wish you wouldn't stay
out so late, especially with this robber at large. We were just praying for your
laughed, sweeping his small wife into burly arms. "Pray if you wish, my
dear, but I'm glad my safety doesn't depend on your prayers. I'll put my trust
in well-trained dogs and fine weapons."
went to each window, examining the locks and making sure that all was secure.
Then he checked his weapons. Having put his defenses in order, he bade
Grandmother good night and retired with Stephanie to their small loft bedroom.
morning Grimez came down as usual to build the morning fire. Seeing a window
open, he exclaimed in amazement. Stephanie flew down the stairs. They
scrutinized the window and lock, but nothing was broken. Something had simply
opened it. Puzzled, they searched for anything else that might have been
disturbed. Suddenly Stephanie cried out in terror. "Oh, look!" There
on the table, where the old family Bible always rested, lay a gleaming dagger,
and the Bible had vanished. Stephanie sank in a chair, half fainting.
good Lord had mercy on us, or we would surely have been murdered in our
beds," she gasped. "Oh, thank You, gracious Father, for your
don't understand it!" Grimez muttered. "I just don't understand it.
How could he have gotten in? Small good my weapons did me! What on earth did he
want with the Bible? Let's look to see if he took anything else.
searched carefully but found nothing else missing. They talked and puzzled over
the matter for weeks, but it remained a mystery.
months later the three of them sat together at a quiet evening meal. Grimez ate
in silence, his face troubled. At last he spoke. "I fear I'll have to be
gone for a time. You women will be all right. There's the money hidden in the
cubbyhole. That will keep you in food for some little time, and I've stored
plenty of wood in the shed."
Grimez, whatever can you mean?" protested his wife. "Where are you
has broken out on the French border. I hate to leave you alone, but I'll have to
go and help with the fighting. At least you should be safe. There's little or no
chance the war will come this far, and we've had no trouble with robbers since
the night the Bible was stolen. I should pack up and leave tomorrow. I don't
know just when I'll be back, but the fighting shouldn't last long."
wife clung to him in sorrow. "If you come back," she murmured. Then,
with tears in her eyes, she gathered her courage to face the emergency.
"May God, who protected us on that terrible night, go with you and keep
you, and bring you safely back to me," she said.
once Grimez didn't laugh.
days and weeks that followed were grim. Fighting was intense along the border.
Step by step they drove the invaders back until the enemy made a stand beside a
day the battle raged. The boom of cannon, the shouts of warriors, the cries of
the wounded, mingled in terrible confusion. At last the sounds subsided, and the
smoke cleared away. The living were gone; evidently only the dead remained.
a time of silence the soft splash of oars came over the water. Almost
noiselessly a fisherman guided his small boat along the shore of the lake. As he
neared the battlefield his ears caught a whisper of sound. He lifted his oars to
listen. Yes, he heard it again-the low moan of someone in pain.
eyes searched the shoreline for danger.
satisfied, he eased his boat up onto the sand. Walking with mournful steps among
the dead, he examined each apparently lifeless form. Ah! This one was warm, and
moaned softly at the fisherman's touch.
he put his hands to his mouth_ and shouted to his companions around the bend. In
a moment two more small boats appeared. Together the fishermen lifted the
injured man-a captain by his uniform-and bore him gently to a boat. Two miles
away, across the lake, stood a row of neat cottages. Into one of them the
fisherman carried the wounded stranger.
he called softly, "we have a guest."
pretty, round-faced woman appeared. Wiping work-worn hands on her snowy apron,
she took charge immediately. "Here, bring him in and lay him on the bed.
I'll fetch water to wash his wounds. Poor man, he seems scarcely alive. We must
tender touch she washed him and bound his wounds. Her husband built a fire to
warm the cabin. Together they nursed him through the long night. In morning
light his pulse beat stronger, and by the afternoon he awoke.
am I?" His eyes searched the simple cottage.
found you nearly dead on the battlefield and brought you home," the
fisherman told him. "And who are you?"
name is Grimez," the captain answered. "I am a forester from the
mountains. If you would send for my wife, she could care for me."
so they arranged it. A messenger went for Stephanie, who came at once to nurse
her husband. The fisherman and his wife moved in with a neighbor and told Grimez
and Stephanie they might use their cottage until the captain was well enough to
suffered agonizing pain, but Stephanie nursed him day and night, soothing him in
every way she could. On one such occasion he caught her hand in his while his
eyes caressed her face.
dear wife," he said, "how often these days I think of your prayers for
my protection. It's remarkable that anyone came to my aid when I lay wounded. My
own friends had left me for dead. And then there was the night someone stole the
Bible. Whatever happened that night, I'm certain that some stronger hand than
mine was guarding us. I fear that you've been right, and I've been wrong. There
is a God in heaven who has heard your prayers. He's had mercy on me despite my
unbelief and wickedness. From now on I mean to serve Him."
could only weep for joy.
last Grimez was strong enough to go home. He and Stephanie went to find the
fisherman and his wife. Grimez clasped his hand. "Friend, I owe you more
than I can say. But for you I would not be alive today. I can never repay you
sufficiently, but I do wish to offer you something for your trouble. Here is
the fisherman would not let him finish. "No, no, I will take nothing. I'm
only glad I could help you. Now go to your home in peace."
Grimez persisted. Again and again he urged him to accept the money.
last the man replied, "I can't take your money. I owe you much more than
you owe me. In fact, I have a great treasure of yours that I want to return to
went to a closet and came back with something in his arms. Stephanie cried out
and caught it to her, hugging it with joy. "My precious Bible!" she
fisherman turned to Grimez. "I see that you don't recognize me," he
said. "But I'm the robber chieftain whose band you captured. I hated you
bitterly and swore revenge. One day I crept into your home and hid, intending to
murder you and your family during the night.
were late returning, but your wife read from this Bible. I had no choice but to
listen. Never had I heard anything like it before. It made a great impression on
my heart. Then she knelt and prayed for protection. She even prayed for me!
that I couldn't carry out my plan. But I wanted that book. I took it, leaving my
dagger in its place. For weeks I hid and did nothing but read. It made a new man
of me, and I've begun a new life. My wife, Katrina, is helping me. We've all we
need for this life, and a hope for the life to come.
trusted in your guns and your dogs, but they couldn't save you. It's the Word of
the living God that has saved us both."
paused for a moment in the shade of the maple tree. Already the morning sun fell
with breathless warmth across the little Minnesota farm. Dust rose from the
hooves of a neighbor's horse bearing his master on some early errand. Beyond the
road to the north and east lay Benson Lake, its waters catching the blue of the
is, it had been cloudless only moments before. Now a dark swirling mass like
smoke boiled over the eastern horizon. The girl froze, puzzled, fear tickling
her spine. She spun around and dashed for the house, the eggs in her basket
Papa, something's coming! Come look, quick! Something's coming!"
small boys tumbled through the doorway, nearly tripping her. She set the egg
basket on the table and caught Mother's thin hand in her own.
on, Mamma. I don't know what it is!"
left her biscuit making to follow Paula outside. There the four of them stood
watching the growing, swirling cloud that shadowed the landscape like an omen
appeared behind them in the doorway, leaning on his cane. His eyes narrowed as
he surveyed the scene before him and spoke one word: "Grasshoppers!"
long they stood there Paula didn't know. For once even six-year-old Roger didn't
ask questions. The young ones, too, seemed to sense the threat that hung over
them. Finally Father called them in, and they shut the doors and windows. It was
hot inside, but the heat was better than sharing their home with thousands of
biscuits lay unbaked and dry on the table. No one felt like breakfast anymore.
Roger and Carl stood by the front window. Father sat in the old wooden rocker.
to worship," he told them, his voice sounding husky.
boys reluctantly abandoned their observation post, and Mother surrendered her
attempt to rescue the meal. They gathered with solemn faces around' the table on
which Father's Bible lay.
will grasshoppers do, Papa?" Carl asked. "They'll lay eggs, Son.
Millions of 'em. I reckon they'll eat about everything in sight. And when the
eggs hatch in the spring ... " his
voice trailed off. He seemed to be looking at something a long way off.
Papa, can't we kill'em? I mean if everybody around here—if we all help. Can't
we do something?"
we will. Everybody who can will fight 'em But I reckon there are more of 'em
than anybody can kill. I never saw it so bad."
opened the big Bible to one of his favorite chapters, the ninety-first Psalm.
"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under
the shadow of the Almighty."
lips formed the comforting words as Father's choked voice continued to read:
"I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him
will I trust."
his voice gained power. "Surely he shall deliver thee . . ." Paula
watched the worry-wrinkles smoothing on his brow. He might be old and ill, but
her heart glowed with pride. Papa wasn't afraid.
he closed the Bible and they knelt to pray, it was as if he seized hold of the
gates of glory and wouldn't let go. "Thou art our God!" he exclaimed.
"All Thy promises are ours. We have no fear, for Thou wilt protect us. We
are helpless, but we belong to Thee."
strength of that prayer warmed Paula's heart over the months that followed. All
that Father said about the grasshoppers was true, and fear haunted the little
community. The war they waged on the invaders seemed to make scarcely a dent in
their numbers. Prospects for the spring looked bleak indeed.
And on the little Christopherson farm, despair might well have settled. Father
was old and Mother often sick. Every year they battled for survival. But in
their little home glowed hope and courage that few of the neighbors shared.
long cold winter melted into spring. Food supplies dwindled. Buds burst in the
trees, and all nature rejoiced. But out of the ground crawled a myriad of
insects. The earth moved with them. To plant seemed useless. But Father
Christopherson hired a neighbor to plow the garden plot. The neighbor muttered
about wasted effort as he worked, but he turned the soil, took his pay, and
the next morning Father called the family together. "It's plantin'
time," he announced cheerfully. Before they went to their task, they
knelt together and prayed. Then, pushing aside the hopping, crawling pests, they
hid the precious seed in the earth. Without a crop they might well starve. And
only a miracle could save the crop.
morning Paula inspected the garden. She stood and watched the grasshoppers and
waited for the first green shoots. Hope and fear battled in her heart. The day
the first sprouts appeared was a day she would never forget. She stood for a
moment at her usual spot, and then with a shriek of delight, turned and fled to
God has answered! God has answered! Come and see!" The whole family hurried
to view the garden, then stood transfixed by the sight. The tiny green shoots
thrust up from the ground. And while all around the garden the grasshoppers
crawled as thick as ever, inside it they saw none. An invisible wall—a barrier
the insects could not penetrate seemed to restrain them.
that spring Paula loved to walk in the garden. It seemed like holy ground. She
tiptoed down the rows and touched each growing thing with gentle reverence.
Never had their garden- looked more beautiful, while for miles around, on every
side, devastation reigned.
the grasshoppers matured and grew their wings they flew in swirling clouds,
making a sound like fast-falling hail. And where they settled, they lay in great
heaps on every side. For miles around scarcely a green thing survived. Trees
lifted arms as bare as winter, and fields lay deserted. Those who passed on the
road stopped to gaze in wonder at the little oasis of fruitful beauty on the
harvest came the earth yielded her bounty from the little garden plot: from a
small patch, fifty bushels of beets; eighty-three large squashes from three
vines; and much more. Paula and the boys carried in mountains of produce. It had
never been such a happy task before.
they filled the cellar with food for the winter months and sent basketfuls to
the neighbors. But on a morning of late August something occurred that greatly
they sat at the breakfast table a loud knock boomed through the little house.
"Someone else to buy food," Father thought as he rose to answer.
in, come in, Orville." He ushered in a black-bearded neighbor.
reckon, Norris, that ye might have some food I could buy. Ye know we ain't got a
thing after them grasshoppers got done with us. We'd a starved, I guess, if I
hadn't a had a little money put away."
face looked sober. "The good Lord musta known we hadn't any put away,"
he said. "It's only the mercy o' God that we've food to eat. And He's given
us all we need and some for sharin'."
Nelson stood silent for a moment, his face working in a strange way. "I
never took much stock in God adoin' anythin' fer us here and now," he said.
"But I never seed nothin' like that garden o' yours afore. I reckon the
whole neighborhood's convinced we got us a miracle here. Seems like I heard a
preacher read somethin' like this afore — about rebukin' the
devourer—Malachi, I think it was. Do you folks give a tithe to God?"
Christopherson looked a little puzzled. He went and got the big Bible and put it
in Mr. Nelson's hands. "Can ya show me what it says?" he asked.
"I been payin' tithe fer about a year now 'cause I saw it in the Word, but
I never saw what yer talkin' about."
Nelson turned the big pages awkwardly, looking back and forth. With some
difficulty he located Malachi. Then his face lit up. "Here it is in Malachi
3:10-12. Listen to this: 'Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse . and
prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts. I will rebuke the devourer for
your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground.... And all
nations shall call you blessed.'
a long time Father stood without speaking. He opened and closed his mouth twice.
Finally he took out his handkerchief and blew his nose. "Well, I
never," he said. "I shore never saw that. Neighbor Nelson, won't you,
stay and worship with us? I think we better thank God all over again."