Spiritual Gettysburg

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TheDiscipleMD

Several years ago I spent time with family on the battlefield of Gettysburg. There are many lessons to be learned from examining its history and resulting consequences. Of more interest to me were the personal stories of those that participated in that bloody battle. One such story is of a Confederate Colonel named Isaac Avery. On July 2, 1863, while on horseback, he led his troops in battle on East Cemetery Hill. There he was mortally wounded. Taken to a local farmhouse, he scribbled a note to his father that said, “Father, I died with my face to the enemy.” A final gesture to his father let him know that he, Isaac Avery, had been “faithful” to the end. I was moved and inspired by his words. No matter that he was on the wrong side of history. He wasn’t on the wrong side of living with honor! Isaac Avery’s words reminded me of an oft quoted scripture:

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing”. ( 2 Tim. 4: 6-8).

These, of course, are the words of Paul, written to one of his missionary companions, Timothy.  Like the soldiers of Gettysburg, we too find ourselves in the thick of battle. In 1863 I am sure that they asked themselves, “How did I get in the middle of this”, and more importantly, “How do I get out alive?” Perhaps we have asked ourselves this same question when defending the principles of the gospel! Getting out alive is important, but getting out “with our face to the enemy” is of more significance. Running from the battle, as some do, will sometimes “get us out”, but it will not build enough character for us to be able to return home “with honor.”

The battle of Gettysburg, won by the Union, has gone down in history as the pivotal moment in the Civil War. Discouraged and battered, the Confederate Army withdrew from Pennsylvania and never recovered. Surrender followed within a couple of years and “freedom” was gained for all men. Today we are in the mist of the spiritual battle of “Gettysburg”. But the stakes are much higher!

We are at a pivotal time in history. We are in a battle as fierce as has ever been waged in the history of mankind. This, for the souls of men! Spiritual Gettysburg is upon us! And we are in the middle of the fight! I pray that all of us may say, at battle’s end, that we “have died with our face to the enemy.”

 

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