Monday, August 27, 2012

Fallen Soldier

“I don’t want to live that life anymore.” His tone was firm, his piercingly blue eyes resolute. As our dusty vehicle wound through the snow laden countryside, I marveled at his dramatic testimony and complete heart change.

With surprise and delight I had heard of our family friend’s conversion to the truth, but it was wonderful to see it for myself. The parties, secular lifestyle, violent video games, worldly films, and rock music had been eagerly laid aside and exchanged for earnest Bible study, humble prayer, and a passion for serving God. I could sense his enthusiasm and joy, and it was evident that he longed for the purity of heaven to rest in his heart.

He traced through the past months, the long years. “That life has no appeal now,” he expressed to me firmly. “I was living an existence only for myself and found no fulfillment or peace. You can be glad that you were never caught up in the ungodly teenage dating scene - for I was. It was so cheap and a such a waste of time.” His gaze drifted to the grimy snowdrifts, clogged with stones and dirt from the edge of the road nearby. Except for faint dialogue between our mothers in the front seat and the gentle whirring of the car engine, everything was quiet.

Slightly pausing, he turned to me. “What I have now is something that I cannot bear to lose. I don’t want to live that life anymore, and never will I return to it again.”

The chilly winds of spring melted into the warmth of glowing summer sunshine. Months later I saw him again, and he greeted me with the same broad grin and enthusiasm I appreciated before. He had brought a young lady with him, and she pleasantly shook my hand with a sweet smile. As we joined friends and family for Friday night vespers, she looked up at him apprehensively, hoping that his mother would approve of her.

Although she was a nice girl, I worried because she did not believe what he did or possess similar convictions. But hopeful and eagerly, he shared his faith and engaged in Bible studies with his girlfriend. Together they attended a small and peaceful Adventist church every Sabbath, and I was sure his most heartfelt prayers were for her to experience his faith and change of life.

I can say little about the months that followed. Seasons brought change, and winter snows melted again to welcome the delicate beauty of spring in New England. But a trace of sadness stained a happy day when I heard that a strong soldier was slipping away. His family and friends detected a marked change in the young man resulting from the influence of his girlfriend. His humble, yielding nature desired to please her.

Slowly they stopped attending church, and their boundaries as a dating couple were dropped, one-by-one. Because of her influence, they attended a prom together and danced. She began to share her beliefs with him, and he was swayed to change his own.

As I quickly scrolled down the page of a social networking site one Friday afternoon, I stopped to read one of his posts. The language he used astonished me. Did he really write that? How could this be real? His enthusiasm for the truth was so firmly stamped in my memory that I hardly separate it from the person he was now. As I slowly realized just how much he had dramatically changed, a prayer caught at the back of my throat and weighed deeply on my heart.

No matter how calmly or cautiously one shuffles down the slippery slope, they will slip. Yielding to temptation in any form however sweet, will tear down your armor. It may come to you in the form of a lovely girl, or a charming guy, but one that does not share your faith or conviction will only add to a constant struggle for those who want to stand firm.

A soldier of the cross was meant to fight, and God’s strength was there for him to stand all along. Again I was reminded that the strength of a true soldier is determined, not by how many risks he can take before he falls, but how strong he is to resist initial temptation when it comes. If Eve had remained at Adam’s side, together they could have successfully turned from the enticements of the enemy and remained obedient to the Father. If we cling to the right and continue to resist every onset of temptation, nothing can draw us from the Lord’s side.

My friend sacrificed his passion for the truth and resolve to remain separate from the world for his girlfriend’s sake, and heaven weeps to watch him turn away. Is yielding to the very thought of temptation worth risking so much?

...please pray for heaven's fallen soldiers.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The afternoon sun gleamed upon my beloved Vermont hills, bathing them with a warm glow. Buried deep in the pages of the Desire of Ages, I paused to ponder a meaningful chapter. Closing my eyes, I could imagine the scene….



Gleaming coins fall with a demanding clatter, lining treasure chests with abundant wealth. Many individuals clearly delight to pour generous offerings into the treasury as onlookers stare with mixed amazement and admiration.

Hesitating timidly, a poor widow approaches the place of offering. She shrinks back. Comparing her gift with what the rich offer only makes her sorrowful that this is all she has to give. What difference will two mites make, buried by and lost amid the other contributions?

Aware that she may be going hungry tonight, she hurriedly throws her gift in and turns to leave. But the tender gaze of Jesus stops her. Soft tears pool in her eyes as His words touch her heart with an unspeakable warmness.

“Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all.”




I am convinced that if she had more, she would have given it.

A heart of faith and love was the priceless treasure God desired above all else. Inspiration tells us: “Her heart went with her gift.” She gave all that she had.

The Savior had watched quietly. Little did the givers know that He was acquainted with every single coin they had ever possessed. Their ulterior motives accompanied a half-hearted gift. All they offered Lord was a good deal of silver, brass, and copper.

Yet a widow’s mere two pence was worth more than everything the others had offered, because it was her all.

God looks not so much at the quantity compared to others, but at the percentage. Have you given Him your everything? Out of all the wealth in the world, there is nothing God considers so precious as the entirely devoted heart.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Unseen

"Johnny, do you want to take a ride down the driveway in my wagon?"

The little face lit up in a grin. I tucked a basket through my arm and began to skip down the graveled driveway, steadying the wagon with its precious cargo behind me.

Nothing was extraordinary about the day. The gray sky was rimmed with looming clouds, heavy with rain and threatening to shower. The woods surrounding us were silent without so much as a chirp of a bird or the rustling of a leaf, and the air was motionless and still with the damp smell of late summer.


As I pressed forward to the meadow, an uneasy and restless feeling slowly grew inside of me until I became nervous. Endeavoring to reason away this strange and un-called for impression, I continued to pluck berries from leafy bushes lining along the driveway and placing them in my basket.

But just because I feel a bit edgy doesn’t mean anything, I told myself. Wandering through small thickets of brambles and clumps of persistent weeds, I stooped to find luscious blackberries under the dark green leaves of bushes partly hidden by tall weathered grass. Jonathan, still sitting in the wagon was not far away, playing with a wildflower he was saving for Mamma.

Maybe you should return back to the house. Feeling unsettled, I realized that this impression was becoming too hard to ignore. Just a few more berries… I told myself. And then we’ll go home.

I leaned forward, nearing the tree line with my back turned to Jonathan, intently reaching for the object of my gaze.

Suddenly a feeling of dread and apprehension intensified to such a level that I leapt out of the area with a cold fear that startled me. Any doubts that I had previously entertained, disappeared into thin air in the space of seconds. With no hesitation now, I tore through the short brush with a prayer for safety and strength on my lips.

My heart pounding, I dared not look behind me as I ran, pulling the wagon as Jonathan clutched his flower and the wheels rattled. I would feel no sense of safety until I and my little brother reached the house.

To this day, I do not know why such a feeling was impressed upon me, except that there was danger. I could only reason that God saw something that I did not, and instead of removing that danger, He called me to run from it.

Friends, don’t wait for temptation to be removed from your life - flee from it. The enemy seeks only to leave us lost and void of hope, crushed in his hands by the bonds of sin.

Our frail human reasoning cannot be compared with that of the divine. Resisting His voice - even if we don’t understand or can’t explain His commands - will only result in our loss, and His sorrow.

And when you cannot detect the slightest hint of danger on the horizon, do you trust God’s eyes to see it for you?