The enemy, for some reason I cannot see, has decided to make me a 'person of interest' in this particular area of the battle, at least in my opinion......and the forces are gathering around me in strength. Even some from an unexpected quarter, my back to which I had the pledge of several of my fellow warriors to guard. They seem less now than the number that once stood there, in mutual support of protection, guarding my hind side.
None have fallen, but I see a few drifting away from the battle, as if forgetting what is happening around them. But the Few stand, faithful, and I would have no other than they at my side. True warriors. True friends. True brethren.
Far away, atop a grassy hilltop, I can see my General (with many of the 'special guard'---those who have gone before me through the ranks and now await the Lord's call to ride again into the final battle of this mighty war arrayed behind Him) standing there, watching to see where reinforcements are needed for additional breakthroughs to the souls lost in that darken field or for support to warriors in the thick of it.
I cannot be certain, but it seems that there is no attention given in my direction as those who oppose my King gather in ever enlargening numbers.
"These are the times that try the souls of man," the thought bounces randomly in my mind. But it is true....such are the times we are living in now. Most of the brethren are too distracted by the daily 'stresses' of living in abundance on the physical plane that they never seem to come to the front lines and give their sword in service. It frustrates me, and many other warriors upon this field of battle, for there are many wandering the landscape lost, unarmed, and in harm's way along with those who have sworn allegiance to the enemy.
Some of the Brethren stand near the hill, close by the General and the reserve troops, their varying state of battle preparedness a sight that saddens many a veteran warrior; missing leathers, helmets forgotten, shields too loosely strapped upon their arms. Some still manage to gather enough courage to blunder out upon the battlefield; too often either falling to the enemy or being borne back upon stretchers to the rear where they lie, deeply wounded--- battle ineffective.
A few are listening to the instructions coming from battle-hardened warriors who have been called from service on the frontlines to equip, train, and empower these newbies. The attentive ones will become great warriors in the King's army, vanquishing many foes and rescuing great numbers of those lost in the darkness of the enemy. Others, who fail to listen to the wisdom borne of warfare given by the veterans, will fall quickly, as they wander in and realize, in the din of clashing swords and impacted shields that they don't know how to fight.
Of course, a few are being berated by some wounded veterans, themselves victims of the long battle with wounds gaping open and painful. These are just as bad as the enemy we battle for our King, causing more damage to the newbies as they accidently cut them with their swords as they tighten the scabbards or bruising the skin as they yell at the recruits for loose leathers, rusty chainmail, or some other defect that in and of itself isn't a problem. Unfortunately, many of the recruits so treated come to the battlefield and fight far less eagerly, tending to stay close to the hilltop as if afraid to lose sight of the General.....afraid to die upon the field of darkness. These will never live up to their true potential and know the glories of dangerous service to the King.
There stand a growing number of brethren off to the far side of the hill, unaware of the battle that rages in the field on the other side. Their gear; swords, helmets, breastplates, and leathers lie in a unkempt pile nearby, discarded in favor of a flowing robe of green that is unfit for fighting and running ---necessities in this battle. The General looks behind Him with disgust as His eyes fall upon this group, the sickening sound of their chants of "Love, Love, Love" keeping time with the music of their harps and strings. Their heads shaved, the only movement they make is when the reality of the war comes near their haven and they quickly rush to clean any illusion that disturbs the beautiful meadow they've created. They cannot see the decay of their meadow; sickly flowers blacken with filth and the ground strewn with painful stones. Some of the battle-weary warriors succumb to the melodic rhythms and join them in this illusion, adding their armor to the pile, the fate of the embattled Brethren forgotten in favor of an illusionary peace.
There is always movement to and from the front lines as warriors come in to join their brethren in the fight, others are moved to the rear for supplication and rest within the General's camp, and newly promoted warriors move into greater areas of responsibilities. The line is an illusion, as the convoluted line flexes back and forth like a serpent as warriors push further into the darkness and others fall back. All under the General's eagle eyes.
The fluidity of the front line often confuses even the veteran warriors and they find themselves seemingly cut off from friends by a large number of foes. Some of the greatest warriors, surrounded and without hope of rescue have simply bowed to the pressure and surrendered. These are never seen from again.
Training is constant, as the needs of the great Army the General commands change, ebb and flow with the enemy's tactics. Some gather to be trained for a greater task, others to see retraining and debriefing from the General Himself. A veteran warrior knows where his greatest strength lies; in wisdom and knowledge gained from the mouth of the General and the endurance gained from His training. My thoughts wander back to the 'last' day of my training under the mighty General before I rejoined my brethren on the line, a newly minted sergeant chevron strapped to my breastplate.
Love and pride shone from His eyes as He gazed upon my brothers and I as we stood at inspection ready. His hands clasped behind His back as He walked the line, looking each one of us directly in the eyes, where the evidence of His passion pierced our hearts with purpose. He finished His 'inspection' and strode to a spot a few feet in front of us. The training had been tough, a few of my brothers in arms falling away during its course. We were the few left.
"Who do you fight for?" the General's booming voice echoed down the hillside.
"The lost!" my older brother next to me sang out........
"The future!" another, experienced brother cried.............
"For the heavy burdened" a newly freed warrior's shout was heard..............
"For my children!" a father sounded out........................................
Then the General stepped up to look deeply into my eyes,
"And who do you fight for?"
Strength flowed through my arms as I stepped back and drew my sword, heaving it to the sky....
"I fight to die for my King! I fight for His Glory! I fight for His Kingdom!!!!"
Standing with my remaining brothers far from that hilltop where the General and the reserves seem to measure the size of stick figures, my eyes clear from the memory..my heart beating, my muscles flexing, and a peaceful calm belying the reality of the gathered foes arrayed around me and my brothers.
My brother to my right catches my eyes, nods his head and gently speaks, "This is what we were born to do, my brother." My brother to my left replies, "We few, we precious few, know victory is already assured."
My gaze falls upon the ungirthed, unleathered souls that sit in our protective circle, rescued ones from the darkness newly born into the light of my King's army. Without them, my tiny band and I could outrun the enemy to gain a better fighting position. With them, we wouldn't be able to do so without losing some. This I will not allow. These are the reason I don't run, these are the ones I will gaze into my enemy's eyes from but a breathe away and say, "These are His!"
Two of the strongest brothers in our band look to me and I nod. They gather up the rescued ones and head out quickly along a thin, narrow line that snakes back to the hilltop. The innocent newborns will be protected as they grow in strength, endurance, and purpose before the General receives their assignments from the King's son, the Prince. Then, they will fight in a variety of ways for the Kingdom; some as warriors, some as trainers, some as healers. All for the King's glory and the glory of His Son.
The stench of the enemy's sulfurous breath tickles my nostrils as my humanity remembers a time when I thought it was such a sweet taste to my lips. The glow of the evilness sears from their eyes and the corruption of their flesh hangs limp and discolored on their bones. My brothers and I rock backward on our feet, as if to gather closer together in a fearful, hopeless last stand.
Surprise reflects in the eyes of our foes as we launch ourselves in flight towards the superior numbers.
Grins plaster our faces, I know without looking at my brothers, as we run towards the enemy with our swords swung high and our shields low. We know there is no dishonor in death or no fear of the beyond because we have the promise to return home to our King's kingdom. We are already victors in this war.
And we know no fear, because there is no greater love that we can give than to die for one another, and those yet to be saved. Before we even engage some of the enemy, they change..empowered by our stand for our King, they throw their weapons down and cry out for His mercy. But there are still many, more than our little band charges them with.
Laughter born of no fear echoes through the field of battle as we engage the enemy for the souls of the lost, the heavy laden, the confused, and the unloved. I feel the gaze of my General upon my shoulders as I stand against a large foe, fighting for the soul he grasps tightly behind his back. Love, peace, strength, and assurance flow through me as my laughter lifts to the sky.
I was never alone.
For my God is with me always.
My struggles, my battles, my wounds are never in vain, for they are in the service to my Savior..
Who died for me so that He could be my King!
"Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord's work, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:55-58 (WEB)
Jim is a Senior Ordained Chaplain with Chaplain Service Corp. Answering the call to ministry for the sake of all men, focusing on God, Jim writes and pursues with faith the plans of His Father wherever that may lead. www.chapel-michigan.blogspot.com
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