Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Song that Saved a Soldier

Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
Oh, receive my soul at last.

In his book Songs of Glory, Bill Reynolds relates the 19th century "Civil War" story of Levi Hefner. Hefner was a Confederate courier, "sent one night by his commanding officer, Gen. Robert E. Lee, to take a message through an area partially occupied by Union troops. As he approached a bridge, his horse balked and reared nervously. Hefner dismounted and attempted to calm him. In the darkness Hefner began singing softly an old familiar hymn, 'Jesus, Lover of My Soul.' In a few minutes the horse became quiet. Hefner mounted him, crossed the bridge without incident and completed his mission. 
"A number of years after the war, Hefner attended a reunion of soldiers from both sides. They gathered in small groups to share experiences they remembered from the war. A Union soldier from Ohio remembered standing guard one dark night at a bridge. He had been ordered to shoot anyone approaching from the other side. During the night only one rider came his way, and he raised his rifle to shoot as soon as he could see the form in the darkness. The horse balked, however, and the rider dismounted. To calm the horse, the rider began singing softly an old hymn, 'Jesus, Lover of My Soul.'  The Union soldier told the circle of old soldiers that the sound of the hymn so touched him that he lowered his rifle and quietly turned away. He said, 'I could not shoot him.'
"Levi Hefner jumped up and embraced the Union soldier, saying, "That was me!'  He realized for the first time that his singing that dark night had saved his life." (From Songs of Glory, William J. Reynolds, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990, pp. 151-152)

We experience the loving hand of God in our lives each day, but we can never know all the mercies of the God Who does "exceeding abudantly above" all we can ask or think or know. Once in awhile, though, God draws back the curtain--as He did for Levi Hefner--to reveal to us a little taste of how He acts on our behalf while we are unaware. Years after the fact, Levi Hefner realized for the first time the means that God had put together on his behalf -- a dark night, a nervous horse, a Christian soldier, a touching hymn. "If the Lord had not been on our side..." (Psalm 124:1) These things we grasp as God's dear providences, and certainly we should. But might we better learn that all things together are as George Macdonald calls them, "one grand providence."

Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.
(Hymn by Charles Wesley)


Meagan Eve said...

This is a truly amazing story! Levi is my great-great-great-grandfather. Thank you for sharing.

LaDonna said...

Thanks so much for sharing. In case you are interested I do have a photo of Levi when he was a soldier as well as some information he wrote about his life. Levi was my 2x great grandfather.

R. L. Vaughn said...

This is a great story. Meagan, LaDonna, thanks for stopping by and adding your comments to this post. LaDonna, I would be interested in reading the information he wrote. Also, with your permission, maybe I could add his photo to this post?

Meagan Eve said...

I would very much like to see the photo you have LaDonna!! I also have a photo I can share with both of you, and I don't mind if it is posted online.

Meagan Eve said...

Email me at :)