Friday, March 20, 2020

Standing Your Ground

    Warfare has dramatically changed since the Civil War.  The weapons on the modern battlefield now allow for the fighters to engage the enemy without even physically seeing their opponent. Rockets and powerful artillery shells can hit troops, many miles away.  Pilots can shoot down other aircraft beyond their horizon.  Ballistic missiles can destroy cities across continents.  The modern foot soldier's rifle can accurately hit targets thousands of yards away and shoot multiple times without reloading.  Soldiers even have equipment that allows them to spot the enemy in total darkness while they themselves remain hidden in the night.  On top of all that, there remain horrible silent weapons, unmanned drones, hovering above the battlefields, ready to unleash death from above with the touch of a button.  Often that button is pushed from an air conditioned control room half a world away.  Yes, clearly the way the world does battle has changed since 1861. 

Now, for a moment try to imagine what it was like for the common soldier, whether Union or Confederate, during the Civil War.  Each side would march across open fields toward one another.  These lines of troops could often be hundreds of yards long.  At the Battle at Gettysburg, the Confederate line during Pickett's Charge was almost a mile and a half long, and numbering fifteen thousand men.  These brave souls marched on, shells bursting around them, smoke, noise and confusion abounding.  They stopped at times only to fire in mass and as quickly as possible reload their muskets (no automatic muzzle-loaders yet) and then continued to advance into the face of an enemy doing exactly the same thing.  These men stood face to face to their foes, ferociously shooting, at times as close as fifty yards away, until finally one side broke and ran away.  How did they do it?  Where did they get the strength, bravery, and commitment to keep going forward into such a hellish situation?  The only answers that come to my mind are these. 

    1) They believed in what they were fighting for was right and worth the sacrifice.
    2) They trusted that their leaders had a plan, and in what they were individually being asked to do would make a difference.
    3) Lastly, they were spurred on and inspired by seeing their brothers in arm's bravery, marching alongside.

When we are tempted to give up, run from the battle, retreat to the comfort of compromise in the midst of the smoke and confusion of our Enemy's onslaught, what is the Church to do?   I cannot help but believe that the same qualities seen in those Civil War combatants are exactly what is needed to remain steadfast in our service to Christ.  Ask yourself these questions?  Do you still believe the cause you are fighting for is true?  "Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, the Life, no man comes to the Father except through HIM." John 14:6   Do you believe that showing the Love of Christ in your life and boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus, and your fervent prayers make a difference in this World?  Do you  believe that your words and faithful commitment to the Lord, even in difficult times, can help a weaker, frightened brother or sister in Christ keep going?  If your answers are yes, then keep marching forward.  Victory is ours!
    "Don't be frightened by your enemies, this is a clear sign to them that they will be defeated, and it shows them your confidence in the saving power of your God."  Philippians 1:28

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