God both guides and provides. He leads and feeds his people, and sometimes in ways unusual—as John Craig once learned. Craig was born in Scotland in 1512, studied at the University of St. Andrews, and entered the ministry. While living on the Continent, he found a copy of Calvin’s Institutes and in reading them found himself becoming a Protestant. As a result, he was arrested by agents of the Inquisition, taken prisoner to Rome, and condemned to death at the stake. On the evening of August 19, 1559, while awaiting execution the next day, dramatic news arrived that Pope Paul IV had died. According to custom, the prisons in Rome were thrown open, the prisoners temporarily released.
Craig took advantage of the opportunity, escaping to an inn on the city’s outskirts. A band of soldiers tracked him down, but as the captain of the guard arrested him, he paused, looking at him intently. Finally he asked Craig if he remembered helping a wounded soldier some years before in Bologna. “I am the man you relieved,” said the captain, “and providence has now put it into my power to return the kindness—you are at liberty.” The soldier gave Craig the money in his pockets and marked out an escape route for him.
As he made his way through Italy, Craig avoided public roads, taking the circuitous route suggested by the captain and using the money for food. But at length Craig’s money was exhausted, and so were his spirits. He lay down in the woods and gloomily considered his plight. Suddenly the sound of steps was heard, and Craig tensed. It was a dog, and in its mouth, a purse. Craig waved the animal away, fearing a trick. But the dog persisted, fawned on him, and left the purse in his lap.
Using money from the purse, Craig reached Austria where Emperor Maximilian listened to his sermon and gave him safe conduct. He thus returned to his native Scotland where he preached Christ and abetted the Reformation until his death many years later at age 88.
Elijah was a prophet from Tishbe in Gilead. The Lord said to Elijah, “Leave and go across the Jordan River so you can hide near Cherith Creek. You can drink water from the creek, and eat the food I’ve told the ravens to bring you.” Elijah obeyed the Lord and went to live near Cherith Creek. Ravens brought him bread and meat twice a day, and he drank water from the creek. (1 Kings 17:1a,2–6 )
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). August 19.