A Gang Leader Seeks Revenge
This story is about the leader of a gang of outlaws who determined to get revenge on the government officer who was able to bring the group to justice. Everyone in the gang was captured except this vengeance-seeking leader. The government officer, whose name was Grimez, was not a Christian, well, you can tell that by just listening to him:
"You can pray all you want to," Grimez laughed. "I'm going to put my trust in my guns and my dogs." Grimez was the government officer in charge of one of Napoleon's forests in the Silesian Mountains. These were the unsettled days when Napoleon was aspiring for the control of Europe.
His wife and elderly grandmother were both believers in God and His answering prayers. The two women had become very concerned about Grimez's safety. He had been instrumental in bringing to justice a band of robbers who had infested the region. Only the leader of the gang was able to escape. His known threats of revenge upon Grimez brought great fear to his wife and grandmother. One particular night, when Grimez was unusually late coming home, the wife began to really worry.
The two women decided that it was best for them to have a season of prayer for Grimez despite the fact that he not only did not believe in God but openly rebelled at and ridiculed their praying. Before going to bed in the sleeping loft, they read the seventy-first Psalm with particular emphasis on the words: "In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust. . . . Be thou my strong habitation. . . . Deliver me, O God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man."
Then the two women knelt and prayed to God for His protection over them and the absent husband. Before the wife ended her prayer, she asked the Lord to "Have mercy on the robber leader and turn him from his evil ways. Please allow him to find peace through Thee."
Shortly after their worship, Grimez came in. As they both told him of their anxiety over his being out in the forest so late with the robber-band leader swearing to kill him, he said nothing. Then they added, "We just finished praying for your safety."
He let both of them know once again that prayer was "foolish." Then he walked to each window to secure it for the night.
"As soon as I put away my rifles, I'll come to bed," he told his wife as she made her way up the stairs. It was not long until Grimez had locked all the doors and windows, placed his firearms in their normal place of accessibility, and was fast asleep in bed with his wife.
The next morning when the family came downstairs, it was unusually cold. The reason was soon evident. A window was wide open and the cool morning breeze was blowing right into the house. There was nothing wrong with the lock or hinges to indicate that someone had forced it open. Something had simply opened it. But how?
Then to the amazement of all three of them, they saw on the table where they had always placed the family Bible, a large and very sharp knife. The knife lay right where the Bible had been placed the night before, but the Bible was now gone.
The three realized three things: First, the open window meant someone had been in the house. Second, the dagger like knife indicated that murder had been the intent. And, third, the missing Bible had to prove that somehow it had been the means of their not having been killed while they slept.
The entire house was searched and re-searched. Nothing was missing other than the Bible. It was a mystery none of them could explain. The godly wife knelt before them all and thanked God for His protection. The grandmother, though not kneeling, said, "Amen," at the conclusion of the prayer.
Grimez said nothing. His face spelled concern and bewilderment. Several nights passed and the incident was seldom mentioned. One night Grimez announced that the French and the Prussians were fighting each other, and that he was going to have to go to war, too.
In the heat of one battle near a large lake, Grimez was badly wounded and left for dead by his fellow soldiers. Late that afternoon, as the sun's rays almost faded from view, several nearby fishermen came cautiously to the shore. They had small fishing huts there and wanted to see if any of them were left. As one of them walked slowly amidst the dead bodies, he stopped in his tracks as he heard a soft, pathetic moan. Finding an officer lying in blood, he called to his companions and they carried the wounded man to one of the boats. They rowed to the opposite side of the lake where a number of fishermen had cottages. The wounded officer was taken into one of the cottages where the fisherman and his wife worked hard and long to save his life.
When he regained consciousness and was able to carry on a conversation, the fisherman wrote a letter for him to his wife and had a young man take it to the small cottage in the depth of the Silesian Mountains. Grimez's wife returned to the fishing camp with the messenger.
The fisherman and his wife gave them the use of his cottage and stayed with a neighbor until the forester had recovered.
As Grimez lay on his sickbed, he thought of the wonderful way in which he had been rescued from death on the battlefield. His mind went back to the amazing way in which he, his wife, and aged grandmother had been protected the night the robber came into their home. With his wife's help, he came to understand that there really was a God in heaven who did answer prayers. It was not long before Grimez began to pray. By the time of his physical recovery, Grimez had had a spiritual restoration as well. He had become a Christian.
Finally, the time came for Grimez and his wife to go home. He met with the kind fisherman to tell him of his deep appreciation.
"I want to pay you for all you have done for me. I wish it were possible for me to give you as much as you have given me."
The fisherman refused to take one cent. He told Grimez that he could not take his money and that he was glad he could help.
Grimez insisted that he take the money. But, again, the fisherman refused.
"Actually," the fisherman said, as he looked the happy peaceful forester right in the eyes, "I wish there was some way I could give you as much as you have given me."
"What do you mean?" the puzzled woodsman asked. "What have I given you except lots of trouble?"
"Well, I have a great treasure of yours. I have wanted to return it to you somehow, but I was afraid that I might be detected and lose all I have gained here with these precious fishermen who took me into their homes and lives." Grimez and his wife stood speechless as the fisherman continued.
"I came here to this fishing village after spending several weeks reading in the woods. I know that you don't recognize me nor know what I am talking about. I am the one who was the leader of the gang of robbers who gave you so much trouble. When you caught my companions and had them put in jail, I swore I'd kill you. One night I crept into your home. It was just after dark. I hid under the high-backed couch in your sitting room, waiting for you to go to sleep.
"Against my will, I was forced to listen to the two women talk about your being out so late. I also had to listen to them read from the Bible those words from the seventy-first Psalm. It had a wonderful effect on me. Then, when they prayed for you, I was touched. But when they prayed for me, too, I was more affected. It was as if an unseen hand was laid on me, keeping me from doing what I had intended to do.
"All I wanted to do was get my hands on that book. So, I took it. Since I knew it cost a lot of money, I left my very expensive knife in its place.
"For weeks I kept it hidden in the woods near your home. I read it every minute I could. As I did, I saw what a great sinner I was, and what a great Saviour Jesus is. That same Saviour who pardoned the thief on the cross had mercy on me and received me into His kingdom.
"Then I left that part of the country and found employment here among these wonderful people. I met my wife here and began a new life as well. We have all we want in this world, and are blest with a hope for the next. And all this I owe to you."
And with that, he went into his house and came out with the large family Bible he had taken from the Grimez home.
"Grimez," he continued, "you trusted your dogs and your guns, but they could not have helped you any that night, nor did they help you on the battlefield. Nothing but God's Word saved you that night. And nothing but God saved you during the war. Don't thank me, but thank the merciful God who made use of His blessed Word to save both you and me. It was no coincidence that the One who allowed me to learn of Him, who protected you from my knife that night, and who kept you from dying on that battlefield, also allowed me to find you so all of us could have the hope of eternal life."