Vaino Kilpinen didn’t like horses. When he was twenty years old his country drafted him into the Army and told him he must ride one. The year was 1921, and horse riding was a common mode of transportation for soldiers.
Try as he might, he couldn’t learn to ride. The horses kept bucking him off, leaving him bruised and sore. “I quit,» he grumbled to himself and ran away from the army camp.
“You can’t desert the Army!» his parents told him. “They’ll shoot you.»
“I’m not going back,“ the young man stated firmly.
When Mom and Dad couldn’t convince him otherwise, they reluctantly agreed to hide him in their barn. Day after day Vaino’s parents brought him food. Sometimes he’d venture out at night, but not very far. His teeth began to ache, but he dared not visit a dentist, so they eventually fell out. His father died and, six years later, his mother. He watched their funerals through a crack in the barn wall. After that, his brother and sister delivered the food.
For forty years Vaino stayed cooped up in that smelly, drafty barn, afraid to leave.
One day a police officer stopped by to inquire about the family’s long-lost son. Thinking their secret had been discovered, the deserter surrendered. “Will I be shot?» he asked.
The police officer laughed. “if a deserter is not found after a certain number of years,» he said, “he’s pardoned. You’ve been free to leave this barn for a long time!“
Ever wonder what it’s like to live in constant fear with a guilty conscience? Ask a sinner who hasn’t found forgiveness and freedom in Jesus.