My Favourite Stories #30


During the Vietnam war in the 1970’s a graduate of West Point Academy was sent to Vietnam to lead a group of new recruits into battle. However, one night an ambush of the Viet Cong overcame them. He managed to get all but one of his men to safety. The one soldier that had been left behind had been severely wounded, and from their trenches, the young Lieutenant and his men could hear their wounded comrade moaning and crying for help. They all knew that venturing out into the vicious crossfire of the enemy would mean certain death. But the groanings of the wounded soldier continued through the night. Eventually the endurance of the young lieutenant came to an end, and he crawled out of his place towards the cries of the dying man. He got him safely and was able to drag him back. But just as he pushed the wounded man to the safety of the trench, he himself caught a bullet in the back and was killed instantly.

Several months later, the rescued man returned to the United States, and when the parents of the dead hero heard that he was in their vicinity, they planned to have him come over for dinner. They wanted to know this young man whose life was spared at such a great cost to them.

On the night of the dinner party, their guest arrived drunk. He was loud and boisterous. He told off-colour jokes and showed no concern for his suffering hosts. The parents of the dead hero did the best they could to make a worthwhile evening, but their efforts went unrewarded.

At the end of the torturous visit, the obscene guest left. As her husband closed the door, the mother collapsed in tears and cried, “To think our precious son had to die for someone like that.”

That soldier owed those parents the best that was in him. It was evil for him to give so little thought to what they had lost because of him. Considering the price that had been paid for his life, his ingratitude was beyond comprehension.

But before we go too far with out criticism of that ungrateful soldier, shouldn’t we consider how much like him we are? Jesus died for us, yet we continue to sin. Jesus paid a terrible price to give us eternal life, yet we continue to behave obscenely. We owe him something better, but we fail to deliver what we should. We fail to reflect upon the cost of salvation. If we did, our lives would be radically different. Making Christ the centre of our lives is the very foundation of authentic identity, true purpose, and genuine joy.

A life wrapped up in self is a very small package. Being locked in the prison of our own self-centred behavior is a miserable way to live. Knowing Christ, obeying Christ, and living for something bigger than ourselves brings life’s greatest joy. The one who designed us and then saved us from death wants us to really live for the joys of His kingdom both now and to come. Psalm 16:11 puts it this way: “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fulness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures for evermore.”

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