The Soldier

The soldier huddled against the broken wall of an abandoned building. He had long since forgotten how he enjoyed the taste of decent food or even the taste of a drop of water. Yet in his heart, he knew it was far better to be alone in the field than to be in the prison camp's hell. How long had he been here? He had lost all sense of time. One day merged into the next. How long before relief would come?

Every imagination brought a sickening, tense sense of regret, his reality, to life. War.

The sound of rain splashed against the rocks at his feet. The soldier wondered how long had it been raining before he realized it. He now found himself soaking wet. He quickly cupped his hand to catch some of the precious liquid. How glorious the taste. He enjoyed it as if for the for the first time. "Careful," he thought. "You never know where the enemy might be."

Cautiously, he removed his weapon from its perch. "Keep it ready, at hand. Don't let your guard down now." At least, not while it was light and visibility was good.

How long would he remain safe if he were cautious? Even with all his care, it would take more than he could do to keep himself safe. It would take a higher power. He thought of all the times he had failed in life, all the times he had let God down. All the mistakes he had made flooded his consciousness. He didn't deserve special treatment. Yet from somewhere in his heart, God gently reminded him of grace.

Grace, a reward for services unrendered... a mystery power, a gift.

Grace is given when we try our best and fail, when we are at our worst, perhaps not even trying. All we have to do is ask. How much power we have in our mouth. The soldier licked his lips. "God keep me safe!" He realized he had spoken aloud. Yet, he had to say it out loud to make it words, right? He mouthed it again, quietly. "God, keep me safe. God is keeping me safe." He changed it.

He tried to remember why he was fighting; to keep the peace, to keep his family free of the curses of evil times, and to make a better life for himself. "Keep going," he thought. "Keep alert."

"How bad are my wounds?" He now focused his attention on the battered body that was his spirit's home. It was amazing he was still alive. The body... so fragile yet so strong. The tiniest force in the right spot would stop it, yet it could withstand and survive such serious trauma as this soldier had sustained. "With some time and care I will recover," he assessed.

The soldier now surveyed his battlefield. He noticed all the dark and hidden places one might hide. All the secret compartments, all the unknown mysteries it could hold.

He palmed his weapon once more. "Remember why I'm here," he thought. Then he realized for the first time why he was really here. "To praise God." That was the ultimate reason he was here on Earth. "If I can just fulfill my real reason for being, God will protect me. How wonderful you are, God." Again, he said it out loud. He didn't care who heard him, or who was around. After all, Jesus would keep him safe, right? "Thank you God. How unselfish you are. This can't be fun for you. Watching out for us after we get ourselves in such a mess."

The rain stopped. He got up and began to walk across the parking lot. He kept right on praising even though all the people had begun to stare. "Why didn't they realize they were in a war?" He thought. "Why aren't they fighting?"

He brushed the drops off his weapon and opened the pages. "For our weapons are not carnal," he read. "Won't they be surprised when they find themselves in the prison camp, the hell."

He didn't think it in the battlefield, his mind. He said it right out loud with his tongue, his other weapon. He didn't care who heard him.

Contributed by Marjeana Martin

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