The Soldier

“Tell me a story, Daddy!” the little boy exclaimed.

Looking down at his son, the Dad did not see a little boy, but a future soldier. A man who was in training to face the battles of real life, someone who would one day face the world and need to be prepared for it.

So the Dad softly began the story.

“Once upon a time there was a soldier, who served a mighty king. One day, the mighty king called all his soldiers to battle. Like a good man, our soldier responded and headed for the battle.

“The enemy was fierce and terrible. It was said that the enemy was as fierce as a roaring lion. At first this intimidated the soldier, but he pressed on because the king had called him.

“The fighting was intense and many men died. The enemy ravaged the towns and villages of the countryside, burned buildings and killed families. It was brutal. But still the soldier fought on, knowing his king would not let him fight alone.

“At one point, the enemy fought especially hard. It seemed like there was no way for the kingsmen to live out the fight. Some soldiers fled, but our soldier sent a petition to the king and the king sent reinforcements that drove the enemy away—but not after a long night’s fighting. During the night, the enemy made a surprise attack and our soldier was injured. The kingsmen took him aside and comforted him, but eventually they all went back to their fighting.

“The soldier felt all alone. It was dark and he could hear the screams and horrors of the battle. He almost despaired, but just then he felt a firm hand and heard a friendly voice say, ‘I am with you, soldier! Don’t give up; you will be healed if you make it through the night!’ It was the army’s great physician, who had come to help!

“The soldier was encouraged and able to tolerate the darkness a little more after this. But it was still so very lonely. He could hear the enemy making a great noise and he was intimidated.

“Soon the sun began to rise. The soldier could see the glimmer in the far eastern sky. Already the soldier could tell that whatever the great physician had done was healing his body. He sat up and looked around. By now the fighting was over, and had moved to a different place, but the destruction was obvious. The enemy had killed and destroyed, burned and plundered, what hope was left?

“The soldier wondered if there was hope. He saw the destruction from the battle and wondered what good could come from it? Could anything beautiful ever arise again? The soldier looked at his arms and legs, all bruised and bloody: could he ever live normally again?

“Questions and doubt plagued his mind. At first he resigned to the destruction, realizing there was no way around it. This was reality. But as the soldier crawled through the dirt and the ashes, he became angry. Why hadn’t the king responded sooner? Why did the king allow the army’s numbers to become so depleted? Hadn’t the king failed?

“But just then, the soldier looked up, and right there, right in front of him stood the king.

“‘The enemy has been routed and the nation has been saved,’ the king said.

“The soldier was ashamed at his thoughts and anger and looked down mournfully. ‘I am sorry to doubt you,’ said he.

“‘Do not be ashamed, sir,’ said the king. ‘But come and arise, we are victorious!’ And with that the king grabbed hold of the soldier’s shoulders and hoisted the man to his feet.

“‘There is nothing to fear because I will always protect you,’ affirmed the great king. ‘You will never be alone, but always safe under my protection. So go now walk in my joy because you are my victorious soldier.”

The Dad looked at his son who was now fast asleep. It was his story: the Dad was the soldier, and Jesus was the king. One day the little boy was going to face the same experience and the same struggle. He was going to be hurt and would need healing; he was going to doubt, and would need renewed faith. But until then, he would sleep in the safe and loving arms of his dad.

Safe

Phil Wickham

To the one whose dreams have fallen all apart
And all you’re left with is a tired and broken heart
I can tell by your eyes you think you’re on your own
But you’re not alone

Have you heard of the One who can calm the raging seas
Give sight to the blind, pull the lame up to their feet
With a love so strong it never lets you go
No you’re not alone

You will be safe in His arms. You will be safe in His arms
The hands that hold the world are holding your heart
This is the promise He made, He will be with you always
When everything is falling apart, you will be safe in His arms

Did you know that the voice that brings the dead to life
Is the very same voice that calls you now to rise
So hear Him now, He’s calling you home. You will never be alone

You will be safe in His arms. You will be safe in His arms
The hands that hold the world are holding your heart
This is the promise He made, He will be with you always
When everything is falling apart, you will be safe in His arms

Cause these are the hands that built the mountains,

the hands that calm the sea
These are the arms that hold the lame

and they are holding you and me
These are the hands that heal the leper

pull the lame up to their feet
These are the arms that were nailed to the cross

to break our chains and set us free

You will be safe in His arms. You will be safe in His arms
The hands that hold the world are holding your heart
This is the promise He made, He will be with you always
When everything is falling apart, you will be safe in His arms

C.D.

The Canvas

There stood the white canvas on its easel, with a chair, all alone in a lush green meadow. Beyond the canvas in the distance towered a jagged blue range of mountains, and behind the canvas a dark forest was stretched out reaching for the great blue sky.

The Great Man approached the canvas, brush in hand. He sat down and began to paint. He painted and painted, loving every stroke. He painted His favorite things, which were from His heart. Once He had brushed out the setting, He added a new thing. He painted a figure resembling Himself, into the picture. He liked it and smiled as He sat back and stretched. He thought His picture a fine piece of art—and it was.

The Great Man’s servants came to look at the painting. They marveled at the new figure resembling the Great Man. With awestruck worship they began to sing for Him. The Great Man loved how they sung, and it made His joy greater.

But something strange began to happen on the canvas. The figure which the Great Man had painted started to drip off. The servants were shocked. Right there before their eyes, the painting’s most amazing figure was messing up the whole piece. The Great Man was devastated: He knew what had happened, and He knew what would need to be done in order to reverse it.

The Great Man sat down again and began to paint like never before. He painted with passion and love for His painting. He always painted what would ultimately make the picture more beautiful, but sometimes the figures in the painting did not understand. Sometimes the little figures thought that the Painter was making things worse—some even questioned whether the Great Man existed, or maybe He had forgotten about them and was letting the painting drip away into oblivion. The Great Man loved the painting and the figures, and He knew that if they would just trust His strokes, they would eventually understand His love for them, but they had become stubborn in their dripping.

The hardest strokes for the figures to understand were those which took other figures out of the picture. But the Great Man knew that sometimes figures had to be taken out in order to perfect His plan, and reveal His glory and love to them. If the figures had feared the Great Man while in the painting, He would breathe true life into them so that they could live in the Great Man’s world—the real world. But if they had not feared Him, they were forever separated from His guidance and presence—a most horrific thing.

Finally, all was ready for his plan to take affect. He gathered the servants around Him so that they could watch. And again He sat down, but this time He did not paint more figures resembling Himself. Instead, He painted Himself right into the picture.

The servants did not understand. What was going to happen? The Great Figure spent much time in the painting while the Great Man continued to paint. After much painting, the Great Figure dripped all over the canvas, just as the other figures did, and mixed up all the colors. But when the Great Man began to clean away the mixed colors, the servants saw that there were some figures that had stopped dripping. These new figures were beautiful.

“I love them!” the Great Man said.

The Great Man continued to paint. Fervently yet patiently He stroked out the figures, who sometimes dripped, but when they looked to the Great Figure who had been sent to save them, the Great Man forgave them.

He, the Great Man, did not intend for the dripping figures to remain this way forever—His plan was not finished. He decided that there would come a point on the canvas at which He would quit painting and discard it entirely. But first He would transpose all His beloved figures, who had been saved from dripping, into this awesome World wherein the Great Man painted. It was a much greater World than that with the drippings, and He knew the figures would love it there.

This was His plan and He was determined to continue painting beauty onto the canvas until He came to that one point. He loved each of His figures, and because He loved them He had given them the choice to look on the Great Figure for help, or to continue dripping. If they did look at the Great Figure, they were saved, if they did not—they were lost forever. It broke the Great Man’s heart to think that any of the figures would be forever lost and forgotten, but He restrained His passionate love in order that they might respond to His calling on their own accord.

If you were a figure, what would you chose? An eternal Heaven? Or a temporary painting?

C.D.

Perfect People

There is no such thing as a perfect person–and no, I have not be listening to Natalie Grant.

So often I am consumed by trying to make my life look good. Making sure all my failures and downfalls, insecurities and faults are hidden from the rest of the world. I make an attempt (a futile attempt) on my own, to lift myself up, to appear like what I am not.

I go through life trying to make every area exactly how it seems–or I am told to be done.

I pursue ideals. But the ideals I pursue are a mirage. I can never reach them. They are forever out of my grasp.

I ruffle the seas of my life, trying to steer a boat in the direction I want it to go. And out of my struggle to make my appearance and my relationships bright and shiny, I only create larger and bigger waves.

And God just steps back and says, “Ok, if that is the way you want to go, go ahead. But I’m here whenever you need me.”

So out of my rebellion and pride I continue to struggle on. I tackle the imperfections of my life–and off in the distance God still stands waiting for me to give it all to Him.

Imagine with me for a bit.

We are out in the middle of… … …well, let’s say the Sea of Galilee, it is known for its storms. But only this time, let us call it the Sea of Life, and the boat you are in is called, Your Life. You have sailed this sea up and down and all around–the fact is, you are the master, the expert on the Sea of Life. You know which exact routes are the best, which islands are the nicest. You even know which ports are the most convenient to dock at.

But this particular night wasn’t so great. It was a BIG mistake to set sail tonight. And now you are out in the very center of a great storm. Waves are toppling over the edges of your boat every second. The wind howls around you, close to hurricane speeds.  But you do not despair. Having always been a good leader you take complete command. “Do this! And do that!” you shout to the crew. But no matter how many times you change course, or how many times you bail water out, things just get worse and worse.

But then as you are leaning over the rail with your pail in hand, exhausted and resting from the long night’s work. You notice that a light has appeared behind you, thinking it strange for the sun to be up so early you turn around. And you come face to face with the full glory of the light. Out in the dark horizon stands a cross. A distinct cross–a stark contrast to the night sky. And on this cross of light hangs Jesus, looking down into your eyes. And you hear Him whispering–

Just leave your imperfections to Me. It is already done, I have taken care of it. Let Me make you and break you, guide you and keep you. Mold you into the perfect shape I have planned for you.

And so I rest on this comfort. I don’t need perfect relationships. I don’t need a perfect life. I don’t need a perfect church. All I need is God–and He is perfect! 😀

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.” – Psalms 55:22a

C.D.

Alive Again–a Metaphorical Testimony

This, I think, could be applied to any Christian who has experienced Christ.

I woke up in darkness, surrounded by silence; where have I gone? I woke up to reality losing its grip on me.

And I saw a great light—before I saw the sunrise.

You called, and you shouted, but I resisted. You called and shouted once more. I was dead. You called and shouted…you were so patient. You called and shouted again—and you broke through. You broke through my deafness…and now—now I’m alive!

The complete darkness faded away, and I found myself in bright shining light. Now I breathe in, and I breathe out—I am alive!!

The light swept over me, like a river, like water washing out my eyes. The light washed me clean. It went into me, and out. I saw light come from my finger tips, from my nose, my eyes; out of my ears, into my mouth. I saw light seep out of my body as if I were a wet cloth. I was soaked with light. I was finally naked of my darkness; I felt vulnerable, but I was clean. I-was-alive!

The light gathered to one place, and I beheld a being of great magnificence. There are no words in any tongue that would describe the being. It was not human, nor was it of animal comparison. It was a being I had seen not before. No one understands until they feel the light. They cannot even see it, till they are dead and broken. I could not be alive, until I was dead. And now I am alive, because I was once dead.

The light moved away, to wake others, others who were dead. And I followed, because I——I WAS ALIVE!!!

I woke up in darkness
Surrounded by silence
Oh where, where have I gone?

I woke to reality, losing its grip on me
Oh where, where have I gone?

‘Cause I can see the light
Before I see the sunrise

You called and You shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again

You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again

Late have I loved You
You waited for me, I searched for You
What took me so long?

I was looking outside
As if Love would ever want to hide
I’m finding I was wrong

‘Cause I feel the wind
Before it hits my skin

You called and You shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again

You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again

‘Cause I want You,
Yes I want You I need You, and I’ll do
Whatever I have to just to get through
‘Cause I love You,
Yeah I love You


Alive Again by Matt Maher
Inspiration to this writing.