If you read “A Deck of Cards” on the Faith page June 7, you might remember that there have been several versions of this down through the years. You also might recall that “the other Linda” loaned me a version which was published in a book in 2001.
This one was also performed as a narration on a record by T. Texas Tyler and is the rendition that is “most commonly used.” The truth is that there is no certainty of who did the original version or which version is as it was on the one from back in the 1700s.
The difference in the recording by Tyler was updated to World War II. This was during the North African campaign when a group of soldiers had been on a long hike and arrived in a little town called Cassino. The next day being Sunday, these guys went to church. Some of them had prayer books to read from but this soldier had only a deck of cards.
When his commander saw this, he commanded him to put the deck of cards away and took him as a prisoner before the provost marshal. The officer told the P.M. that he found the soldier playing cards in church. The P.M. told the young fellow that he better have a good explanation or he would be severely punished!
So the soldier shared the story as I did in the previous column. Some of you may remember there were some cards he did not mention. Because of space, or lack of it, this column will cover only the missing cards and will mostly be quoted as told by the soldier.
“And when I see the card #5, I am reminded of the five virgins who trimmed their lamps. But ten had been told to do so in preparation for the coming of the bridegroom. Five were wise, but five were foolish and did not do as they were told.” (Matthew 25:1-13)
I have never been drawn to this scripture because before now it had seemed the wise ones were being selfish by not sharing their oil. But during this review, I saw the comparison of this parable for our service to the Lord.
He does not require more of us than we are able to do as we wait for His second coming. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 25:13)
The next missing card in the earlier version was the #8. The soldier said this made him think of the eight righteous persons God saved when he destroyed the earth with the flood. These were Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. (Genesis 7:7, Genesis 7:13, Genesis 8:15-16)
Then the soldier went on to say, “When I see the #9, I think of the ten lepers who were healed by our Savior and then nine of them did not even return to thank Him.” (Luke 17:12-19)
The soldier then said: “And when I see the queen, I think of the Virgin Mary who is the Queen of Heaven. And the Jack, or Knave, is the devil.”
(Out of curiosity, I looked up knave and it is a term from the Middle Ages meaning “a man servant.”)
Next the soldier said: “When I count the number of spots on a deck of cards, I find 365, the number of days in a year. There are 52 cards in the deck and that is the number of weeks in a year. There are 13 tricks, the number of weeks in a quarter. There are four suits, the number of weeks in a month. So you see, Sir, my deck of cards has served me as a Bible, almanac and prayer book.”
In this version the soldier finished his message by saying, “And friends, this story, is true. I know, because I was that soldier.”
In another version, it is said that this soldier was a Green Beret who wrote it anonymously. I would have to research that but the answer would require more space than I would be allowed. You may become like me and “the other Linda.” We see a deck of cards in a whole new light!