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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Battle Ground ...

I open my eyes, the muddy ground comes into focus.
I should be past here … I should be further.  I shouldn’t be here, but I am.
I lift my head from the ground … the still, unmoved, undisturbed ground.
It shouldn’t look so still, there should be much disturbance in the mud, but there isn’t.  I went down without a fight.
I push myself up and rest on my hands and knees, my head hanging in shame.
As my head hangs I open my eyes and can see the path by which I came.  I can see, a ways back, where I lost my helmet.  A little closer lies my breastplate and belt.  Closer still my sword.
I close my eyes again, tight.  I remember, I can see in my mind’s eye how quickly the enemy’s blows knocked my armor from me.  Blows from him that should have been blocked by me, yet that were not.
After I’d lost my armor all I had were my sword and shield.  Both of which were more than enough to fight with by themselves and in my hands I held both.  Yet still I failed.
With my armor gone I made a defensive swipe with my sword, but my sword was knocked easily aside.
All I had left was my shield … that and to retreat to the shelter of my Lord and Commander.
I blocked a blow or two before my shield was tossed carelessly aside by my foe.
I stood before him, weak, and yet I did not run to the shelter I knew awaited me with my Commander.
I could hear the gentle calls, “Come to Me,” from my Lord, but I heeded them not.
With one easy blow my enemy knocked me to the ground.  Laughing, he walked away.  He had not expected me to give much of a fight and I had not disappointed him.
I opened my eyes again, shook my head and fell back into a sitting position before wearily looking around me.
My sword was closer than I thought.
I reached out and my fingers clasped around it.  With some effort I dragged it to my lap.
My eyes filled with tears as they took in the unused, yet deathly sharp, blade.
It wasn’t that my armor and weapons were inadequate, or useless.  They were all I needed to fight … and win … every battle my enemy brought … if I was willing to use them.
In shame my head fell again.
I didn’t even try.  And as a great sorrow rose in my chest the truth that I hadn’t even wanted to, filled my mind.
I hadn’t even wanted to fight him off.  I hadn’t cared.
Tears fell as I let my sword fall from my hands.
I buried my face in my hands and sobbed.
When my sobs subsided and I again had opened my eyes, my ears detected a sound.
It was the sound my heart and ears had been trained to listen for and learned to love.
But now, the sound brought me much inner turmoil.
His sandaled feet were quiet as He came, but I knew He was coming.
It didn’t take long for Him to arrive.  For a short time He stood quietly behind me.
My mind raced and my heart filled with fears.
Would He disown me?  Would He reject me?  Would He simply leave me here alone?  Would He kill me?
Such questions flooded my thoughts as I waited for Him to say something.
But my Commander did not speak.
Slowly, lovingly, He reached out a strong, able hand and laid it on my shoulder.  His movements were smooth and deliberate, without the slightest hint of hesitation.  In spite of how I’d failed Him, He lovingly touched me anyway.
I could feel the warmth of his hand on my shoulder.  It took me a moment, but I finally turned my head and lifted my eyes to His.
I was shocked at what I saw.
I expected to see anger, frustration, a look of despising disappointment, but I found none of these there.
Love, compassion, tenderness and mercy are what I found.
“Arise!  Have no fear, My servant,” a smile mingled with the joy in His strong, yet quiet voice.
“But, My Lord, I’ve failed.  I didn’t even try to fight.”  I turned on my knees to face Him.
“I know,” His voice was soft and gentle … understanding.
“You know?  Aren’t You angry with me?”
“No, My child.  I love you.”
I sat in shock.
“But, Commander, I … I lost the battle, I didn’t try.  I have failed You.”
My eyes rapidly searched His kind, peaceful face, but still my eyes found only love, compassion, mercy and grace.
A smile again moved His lips.
“Come, soldier, come rest in My kingdom.  Come, renew your spirit and strength.  Take My strength and wisdom to fight the enemy better next time.  I will help you, I will be there, I always will!  Come, have no fear!”
With His strong arms He lifted me to my feet and held me a moment, steadying me.  Then He reached down and lifted my sword from the ground and handed it to me.
“You failed because you tried to win alone.  I am the only One Who can help you win the battles the enemy brings.  Come, take My hand, rely not on your own strength, but on Mine alone.  Fight with Me and we will have victory!”

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