The American Chronicles: Valley Forge and The Good Samaritan

We are taking a work-cation up the coast of New England. Kind of a history tour. We had finished church on time Sunday and I rushed everybody out the door so Chris, Service Dog Charlie, and I could get on the road. Though they all wanted to visit after church as they usually do, they complied with filing out. We put the last of our stuff in the van and were on the road just on schedule to our first stop—Valley Forge. Two hours into the trip through some of the most beautiful farmland in Pennsylvania, I received a work text where a particular file was needed. Then, at that very moment, I had that shot of adrenalin like when you see the blue lights in the mirror. I remembered I had forgotten my laptop. We had to turn back.

Arriving at our campsite later that evening, we had to postpone our Valley Forge visit to the next morning. Flexibility is key when you forget things. The Valley Forge camp was where General George Washington brought his Continental Army to face one of its most important battles of the Revolutionary War. Historians would say that Washington’s army of over 8,000 men fought no battles during their winter encampment. I beg to differ. From December 19, 1777 to June 19, 1778, the fledgling army fought its most important battle—some 2,000 soldiers lost their lives. Washington was leading his men in a battle against attrition, disease, cold weather, exposure, and starvation within a few miles of the much stronger British forces. This winter encampment tested the will of the Americans and inspired the tenacity it took to defeat the British.

I’m reminded of the first winter endured by the Pilgrims in Plymouth some 150 years earlier. They, too, suffered disease, starvation, exposure and cold weather. Over half of them died. But their will to survive combined with their faith in the Lord, brought them through. Not common knowledge about Valley Forge are the books given to the men to read in their free time. Those books encouraged the men to endure through faith. They were: “The Duty of Standing Fast in Our Spiritual and Temporal Liberties,” a sermon preached in Christ Church, 1775; “The Rights of British Colonies Asserted and Proved,” 1776; and “A Sermon on the Present Situation of American Affairs,” preached in Christ Church 1775. There is often a test of the will and Spirit to achieve something important. It’s what inspires one another to work together to live.

This is a lesson I’ve learned in life and it is confirmed by many instances of history. We can also see through our travels examples of the faith and will that it took to build this great nation and shape the people in it. Leaving Valley Forge for our next stop in Connecticut, we experienced one of the great people in our nation. We were headed toward an overpass that would have clipped the top off of our camper and a man pulled along-side us motioning for us to pull over. He told us what was going to happen, then offered to take us around the overpass and put us on the path to our next stop. We didn’t get his name, but from the goodness of his heart, he saved us from ruin. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Strangers or angels, our faith is our bond and inspiration.

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Bill Wilson

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