Joe Long killed a man in 1941.
The Great war was horrible, terrible and to put it bluntly a bloody slaughter for all involved.
To top it all off the 2nd World War was even more terrifying then the Great war.
In world War 1 it is estimated that 10 million people died, 21 million people were wounded and 7.7 million were missing or imprisoned.
The Great War went from 1914 to 1918
The 2nd World War, 1939 – 1945 , by comparison show that more than 55 million people both civilians and military were killed
Now those are staggering facts!
But in 1941 Joe Long killed a man!
The thing is, about Joe Long, is that he killed a man, a soldier, not in war circumstances but in the height of the Blitz – that terrible, gruesome ordeal that Britons endured through 1940/1941.
He had been out fighting fires and doing what he could to help those suffering through the nightmare – the night was long and hard – filthy work – emotionally draining and depressingly sad.
It was only fitting that a few mates got together afterwards to “debrief’ with a pint or two and gather strength from each other to face the wintry prospect of yet anther nightmarish day tomorrow.
He had stayed at his friends home longer than he expected and was the last to leave – he was exhausted – he only wanted sleep as he made his way to where he hoped his home had withstood yet another tempest.
His wife of four years and their son had moved to the country where his wife’s sister had lived and he knew Lois and little Raymond were safe or as safe as they could be there. He had opted to stay and ‘hold the fort’ in London along with a handful of his mates.
They were all pretty close – they were good blokes – and like Joe they all had families and so when he rounded the corner of his street and spied this stranger looting anything he could carry from Carol, his neighbours, home without even thinking – he sprinted after him.
Carol had lost her husband in France and both her kids in the blitz and now her home had been pretty much bombed to obscurity and where she was – was anyone’s guess.
He grabbed the looter and threw him on the ground – the man screamed at Joe to let him go – he too had lost all he had to the bombs.
Something snapped inside Joe’s head – it was as if when he looked at this man all he saw were the hostilities, the dead, the blood, the bombs – everything that had torn his world apart – all manifested in this one human being!
Before he even could think twice – he began belting, kicking, bashing and screaming – the man’s head was repeatedly smashed against the pavement but Joe kept on and on – until the man lay lifeless and bloody on the street.
Joe finally came to his senses and was horrified to see what he had done – he saw the blood – the lifeless body and he panicked. He saw the dog tags – he was soldier!! what was he doing here?? Probably a deserter! – He ripped the tags off his neck and shoved them in his pocket.
An idea quickly formed in his mind – why couldn’t he be just another victim of the blitz? – he looked around – not one person in sight – most of the houses where bombed or vacant – his and two others were the only ones left, scarred but still standing in the entire street.
His idea leapt to action instantaneously – he dragged the broken and bloodied body over to the nearest shell of a house – still smoking from the countless fires and dumped it under tiles, tin and whatever he could lay his hands – done, dusted and finished.
He could so easily justify what he did in his own mind – the bloke shouldn’t have been there – he was a thief – a coward – a deserter – he deserved what he got.
Joe’s plan worked well – as far as he ever knew – the victim was just ‘another body’ pulled from the wreckage of another deserted home. After all he himself had pulled hundreds of ‘unknown’ people from the rubble and wreckage all night hadn’t he?
Years went – nothing ever said – Lois and Raymond returned to their home after the war – 2 more children came along – the street got re-built – Carol was never found – no one ever knew what became of her – another on the list of mysteries that surrounded the survivors of that horrible time.
You know – our Lord Jesus died for all of our sin – yep the whole lot – murder, deceit, lies, theft, adultery, envy, jealousy, pride, judging others and the list goes on.
All we have to do is to come to the cross – and there at the very place Jesus gave his life for us – we can drop the huge burden we have been carting around with us – sometimes for years – and leave it there with Jesus.
He has said so plainly that WHOEVER comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37).
On saying all that – and praising God for His amazing forgiveness – we are still human and we still sin – none of us will ever be truly immuned from sin until the great day when Jesus will come back again.
There will be consequences for past sin in our lives – Consequences that sometimes need to be accounted for.
Consequences can be good. Like meeting the living Jesus face to face – amazing and life-giving freedom and an eternity with Him – pretty good consequences there!
Some consequences can be bad – if for example we fool around with sex, being with others and sleeping around – then the consequences could be total alienation from our families – broken marriages – loss of trust – sexually transmitted diseases and so on.
Being a Christian in these circumstances won’t stop the consequences of our sin! Yes we may be forgiven but we still have to bear those consequences.
God is so willing to forgive and YES forget – He doesn’t want us to have guilty consciences and really there is no room for guilt with Jesus – and as far as He is concerned the traces of our past sins are gone BUT sometimes the consequences and results of our past can mar our lives here on earth.
Well, Joe lived a pretty good life after the war – yes things were tight – what with work and food shortage, but finally he snared a job and things started on the up and up.
But – he never quite forgot!
Thirty years later – Joe heard of the amazing forgiveness of Jesus – he and Lois were both transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit – They both realised that they needed to hand their lives entirely over to Jesus – holding nothing back!
They joined a church where they grew in their faith – the boys could see a huge difference in their Mum and Dad – they were in awe of how much they had changed – Where dad had always been loving and supporting, now he was joyful and helpful – always willing to give to others – opening their home to strangers.
It wasn’t long before the boys and their own families had given their lives to Jesus as well – all seemed so good.
The consequences of past sin was there – Joe knew it and he also knew that he would have to put it right. He searched and found the dead mans tags – and he knew what he must do!
He must first tell the family – and then the police!
That night when he assembled all the family together – he told them his story – the blitz – the carnage – the night of terror and then the murder!
Surprisingly for Joe – they were all supportive of their Dad – Lois was in tears and couldn’t help but feel betrayed – the boys, shocked and dumbfounded listened in quietness as their dad unfolded the truth to them.
Thirty years of pent-up guilt came rushing out as Joe told is story.
The very next day – The family accompanied their Dad to a solicitors office and then to the police where Joe confessed to the killing of Private fist class James Alexander Cotterill.
The body of James Cotterill was never identified and was unable to be located – Joe was convicted of the crime of manslaughter and James Cotterill’s family were informed as to what happened to their relative all those years previously.
Joe was sent to prison for an extended time but finally rejoined his family.
You know, there is no room for guilty consciences when we come and truly confess our sins to Jesus – He does forgive and He does forget – Our sins have been purged – washed away – we are clean – God looks at us and sees the sacrifice that Jesus made all those years ago on Calvary.
Jesus took the punishment for our sins – killed them on the cross – we are free from their guilt and their punishment.
Although consequences of our past can spoil relationships here on earth and sometimes we have to pay a heavy price – that will not stop the awesome love of God to transform and permanently change us.
Consequences of our past can be positive but unfortunately negative as in our story – they can enhance or mar our lives and those around us – Don’t let negatives consequences in your life spoil an amazing relationship with your God and King.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Joe Long killed a man in 1941.