Interesting passage in this morning's devotional reading from Mrs. Chas E. Cowman, in Streams in the Desert, Vol 2, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1966.
"An event during the war between the states bears retelling to illustrate the truth that to die is to live, to lose your life is to save it. Self placed on the altar of sacrifice to be consumed by the fire of love will glorify God and do good to men.
"It was at Fredicksburg, after a bloody battle. Hundreds of Union soldiers lay wounded on the field. All night and all next day the space was swept by artillery from both armies, and no one could venture to the sufferers' relief. Agonizing cries for water were going up from where the wounded lay, but there was no response save the roar of the guns. One brave fellow behind the ramparts, a Southern soldier, felt that he could endure these piteous cries no longer. His compassion rose superior to his love of life.
"'General,' said Richard Kirkland to his commander, 'I can't stand this. Those poor souls out there have been praying for water all night, and all day, and it is more than I can bear. I ask permission to carry them water.'
"The general assured him that it would be instant death for him to appear upon the field, but he begged so earnestly that the officer, admiring his noble devotion to humanity, could not refuse his request. Provided with a supply of water, the brave soldier stepped over the wall and went on his Christ-like errand.
"From both sides wondering eyes looked on as he knelt by the nearest sufferer, and gently raising his head, held the cooling cup to his parched lips. At once the Union soldiers understood what the soldier in gray was doing for their own wounded comrades, and not a shot was fired.
"For an hour and a half he continued his work, giving drink to the thirsty, straightening cramped and mangled limbs, pillowing men's heads on their knapsacks, and spreading blankets and army coats over them, tenderly as a mother would cover her child; and all the while, until this angel-ministry was finished, the fusillade of death was hushed.
"Again we must admire the heroism that led this brave soldier in gray so utterly to forget himself for the sake of doing a deed of mercy to his enemies. There is more grandeur in five minutes of such self-renunciation than in a whole lifetime of self-interest and self-seeking. There is something Christly in it. How poor, paltry, and mean, alongside the records of such deeds, appear men's selfish strivings, self-interest, boldest venturings." - J.R. Miller in Making the Most of Life.
I can just about hear the voices saying; That can't be true, no soldier in his/her right mind would do something like that. Or, Just another attempt to make Christianity look acceptable to the masses.
You know, the war between the states was fought by men who had been brought up in a mostly Christian atmosphere. Many may have even been first generation immigrants who came to this country simply for freedom of religious belief.
I have even heard that it was possible for brothers and sons and fathers to be fighting against each other.
Somewhere, in that no-man's land, between the two forces is the place of peace; the calm in the midst of the storm. The place we call the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
The talking heads of today, tell us that Christianity is a dead religion, that it has no socially redeeming value.
And so, we are encouraged to embrace other religions, that have no qualms using women and children to blow themselves up to create casualties in the civilian community.
Talk about cognitive dissonance!
The longer I live, the more aware I become that there is very little intelligent life on this planet.
It is impossible for us to know if there really is an afterlife, and what all may be involved.
I prefer to live my life believing there will come a day when I will hear the words; "Welcome, good and faithful servant, into rest."