In Advance

    “Lord, please help me to be able to carry on my duties as a soldier and still not violate your sacred commandments.” The young Spaniard prayed as he knelt beside his army cot.

     Please help me to have the words and earnestness that’ll cause my captain to release me from military exercises on Your holy day.  In Christ’s name, Amen.”

     Rising to his feet, he walked over to the one folding chair in the tent, sat down, and began a letter to one of his friends in the church back home.  “I want you to ask the other people in the church to pray for me that when I approach the captain about being released from duty on the Lord’s holy day, he will be touched by the Holy Spirit.  He’s a good man, but I don’t know if he is a Christian or not.  I cannot violate my conscience and I don’t believe he’s the kind of guy who would force someone to do so.  But this is war and war makes people think very strangely sometimes.  So, please…”

     Before he could finish the letter, a sudden inspection was called.  When he went outside to fall into line with the rest of the young men in his outfit, the wind was blowing.  His hair would not stay in place.  So, he pulled his hat down tightly on his head hoping that it would keep it in place long enough to pass inspection.

     Everyone gave a sigh of relief when they had passed inspection.  “I thought the wind would really mess me up,” he told a fellow soldier.  “I just knew it meant trouble when I stepped out of my tent and saw all the dust flying.”

     “Come on over to the base exchange with me,” his friend said, “and let’s get something cold to drink.  We’ve gotta wash down all this dust.”

     As he and his friend were walking back to his tent after getting a cold drink, he was halted by a familiar voice.  It was his captain’s.

     “Come into my tent,” the officer commanded him, “I want to talk to you.”

     As they sat down on padded folding chairs in the captain tent, he was surprised by his commanding officer’s words.  “I want you to tell me all about what you believe as a Christian.’

     The captain listened intently as he tried to tell him all of his beliefs.  It was difficult, but the officer seemed to recognize his nervousness.  The captain finally stood to his feet and said, “I wanted you to come in and talk for a few minutes before I tell you of my decision.”

     “Your decision, Sir?” the bewildered Christian young man asked.

     “Yes,” he replied, “I had to make a decision about whether or not to let you off from duty on the Christian’s day of rest.”

     This almost shocked the soldier right off his chair.  He just could not believe his own ears.  He had not even asked the captain for exemption yet.  Then the next official statement was even more surprising.

     “I’ve decides to grant you leave from your military duties on your day of rest.”

     Stunned beyond belief, he rose to his feet, thanked, and saluted him.  Then he attempted to walk out of the tent without showing that he could hardly stand up.  But before he pushed back the door flap of the tent, a holy boldness that comes to Christ’s own came to him.

     “Sir, may I ask how you came to this decision?”

     “Sure,” the captain smiled for the first time that the soldier had ever seen or heard of.  “I read the letter you started to your buddy back home, where you asked him to ask the members of your church to pray that your captain wouldn’t ask you to violate your conscience.  The wind must have blown it right into my tent.”