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TO BE HAD FOR THE ASKING


A few days after the Civil War had been officially ended a man was riding along a road in West Virginia. Suddenly a soldier, clad in a dirty and tattered Confederate uniform, sprang out of a thicket, seized the horses’ bridle, and with twitching face demanded, "Give me bread! Give me bread! I don’t want to hurt you, but give me bread – I’m starving."


The man on horseback replied, "Then why don’t you go to the village and get food?"


"I don’t dare – they will shoot me," was the soldier’s answer.


"What for?" inquired the man. "Tell me your trouble." Whereupon the Confederate soldier related that he had deserted his company several weeks before. Upon approaching the Union pickets, however, he had been informed that no fugitives from Lee’s army were to be taken in.


What was he to do? If he returned to his company, he would be shot as a deserter. In desperation he had taken to the woods and lived there on roots and berries until starvation had driven him to the point of madness.


The man on horseback listened, and then exclaimed: “Don’t you know the war is over? Lincoln has pardoned the whole Confederate army. You can have all the food you want.”


Taking a newspaper from his pocket, he showed the account of Lee’s surrender and the President’ proclamation of amnesty. With a shout of joy, the soldier dropped the bridle and ran for the village. That starving deserter did not know that the bread for which he hungered had been available to him for some time and could have been had for the asking. In his ignorance, he had been self-deprived.


Thus it is with the Bread of Life and many a hungry heart. Oh, if your soul is afflicted with a gnawing emptiness, let me assure you that the Lord Jesus Christ may be had for the asking.


(Source: Dr. Vernon C. Grounds, in Our Hope)

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