Images of war - a book of my youth
When I was a young boy, perhaps ten or eleven, my Dad was given a book about World War One by a work colleague. After looking at it briefly, he passed it along to me.
I was always an avid reader - my mother had taught me to read before I started school - so I was pleased to receive the book about what I thought would be the excitement of war.
The hardbound book, "The Nations at War" had a plain red cover which did not reveal the upsettingly graphic text and images.
I remember taking the book to my room and reading it for the first time - I was shocked.
As I paged through the book, it was not the writing that disturbed me: it was the pictures, mostly black and white, of the scenes of war.
There was one picture of a man lying on a grassy hill, his hands raised above him, his eyes and mouth open. The caption read, "Too long unburied."
Another picture was of a man kneeling, tied to a stake, with hands tied, and his head lowered. There were a number of dark spots on his chest. The caption was, "The end of a spy."
There was also a picture of three men both dressed quite well, walking along a dirt road surrounded by many people. And on either side of the men were two solemn-looking soldiers carrying bayonet-equipped rifles.
The caption for this picture: "Three ghouls found robbing from the dead on their way to execution."
There were other pictures, too, such as a mass burning of dead soldiers, a scene of many fallen soldiers on the battlefield, a bombed-out cathedral, and a trench filled with dead horses that also had died in the fierce fighting.
Yes, it was a grim and troubling book for an eleven-year old. The images linger with me. I've kept that book after all these years and sometimes I wonder why.
You may have a similar experience from your youth. It may not have been a book of course, but perhaps you witnessed a car accident or were present when your Dad was unkind to your Mom.
You could have been teased or bullied in school and felt isolated and hurt.
You might have viewed a movie which had mature themes that were inappropriate for your age and you still carry that imagery with you.
Our lives even as adults can be consumed by pictures from the past - the unresolved hurts, the haunting memories.
The Bible speaks about this when it says: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone; the new has come."
In other words, through Christ, you can be delivered from the dark experiences of your past.
And all the bad things you have done - the Bible calls this "sin" can be washed away when you confess them to God, and ask him to change you.
You may be familiar with this verse: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Jesus - who was perfect - accepted death on a cross and rose again. And he did it for you personally.
Perhaps as you reflect on your life you have become aware of past torments and the wrongs you have done.
You want to get out from under the cloud that has followed you through the years.
Why not call out to God today?
There's no need to wait - you can confess everything to him. He knows you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
Now would be the perfect time to take the step away from the past - and its images that torment you - and ask Christ to be your Savior.
I pray that you will discover the true peace and security that only comes through a relationship with the God who created you.