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.