The young soldier was alone in his foxhole. Private Wilson was covered in mud; he was tired, hungry and afraid. His forward posting had taken constant bombardment from Taliban forces including a fierce attack the previous night that nearly succeeded. There had been bloody hand-to-hand combat that left a mark on everyone present.
His unit commander had briefly chatted with him on his rounds earlier in the morning. He noticed the fear and trembling of the young troop and decided a visit from the chaplain might help.
Chaplain O’Herlihy, the battalion chaplain, was a Roman Catholic priest, but he ministered with equal care and attention to all. That was his job and these men were brothers at war. He came to the front line positions to show his support and show that he was one of them, even though he was just as afraid as they were.
The priest knew personally about the stress of combat and how it affects each soldier differently. He was an enlisted combat soldier years ago before deciding to take up the Cloth. This generated great respect for him from the men and they fondly nicknamed him “Father Rambo”.
As Father Rambo approached Private Wilson in his foxhole, he realized the young man was one of his regulars at worship. He now knew exactly what approach to take with the frightened soldier.
Peering down into the foxhole he said, “How you doin’, Private Wilson. Sorry we haven’t had a service for a while but it’s been tough to meet in a group with all these attacks.”
Looking up at the chaplain, the private changed his countenance. From gloom and doom, he broke into a slight smile and his eyes brightened.
“Hey, Father Rambo, glad to see ya’, but I ain’t doin’ so well. The constant noise of blasts and screams is awful. I feel frozen in place, scared and afraid. Last night I shook like a leaf and I gotta’ get over this fear.”
“Well, let’s see”, Father Rambo replied, “You’re a Southern Baptist, right? What would your preacher back home say?”
Wilson put his hand on his chin and thought for a moment, then said, “Preacher Roberts used to be a football coach, ya’ know. He’d say just suck it up and get goin’. And that’s what we did in late summer practice. It didn’t matter how hot, muggy or tired, we just kept goin’.”
The chaplain replied, “Well, Son, the measure of a man is what he does, not what he says. Does that help you any? Can you relate that to Preacher Roberts?”
The light came on in the young soldier’s eyes and he realized, “Well, Padre, I guess if I got over the misery at practice I can get over fear here. And I guess God will help me. So that’s just what I’m gonna’ do. I want to measure up. I want my buddies to know they can trust me at crunch time.”
Father O’Herlihy gently put his arm on the young soldier’s shoulder, smiled and responded, “Spoken like a true soldier. You got it. Don’t lose the fear, it’ll keep you alert. But work through it. And this easy to remember verse will help. Say it anytime you have doubts.”
The lanky chaplain opened his worn, war ravaged Bible and read Psalm 144:1 (NLT).
“Bless the Lord, who is my rock. He gives me strength for war and skill for battle”.
Just then, an RPG round whizzed overhead, exploding on impact nearby. The two men, one older and one young, looked at each other with relief and then crossed their fingers.
As the priest stayed low rising to leave, he told the young soldier with a smile, “It’s not our time yet, Son. See you in church.”
Private Wilson grinned and replied, “You bet, Padre, and thanks for helping me see the light.”
The chaplain was pleased as he headed back to the company command post. He knew that this young man would be fine whatever his fate. He was right with his Lord and would do what he must do.
The Lord works continually and everywhere, even in the vast wasteland of a battlefield in Afghanistan. He has a special place for young American patriots, wherever they serve. And he knows. Yes, he knows and loves each one.
And He loves the rest of us, too. Will you measure up at crunch time?
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be right now. CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.