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Soldier Bob
by Robert Barra
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© Bob Barra, 7-11-06

Bobby loved to walk with his Lord. He especially enjoyed the times He would share things with Bobby, or when He gave things to him. This was to be one of those times. Bobby had only known the Lord for a few months, but things were radically different for him. He no longer felt alone any more. There were times he would be scared but that would quickly fade away once he saw the Lord with him.

“Bobby, I have something to give you,” He said, with a smile. He always seemed to like giving things to Bobby, even though He had given him so much.

“Yes, Lord!” As usual, Bobby was excited.

What the Lord would often give Bobby was usually one thing, maybe two. Not this time, for the Lord first produced a helmet. Bobby was amazed with it. It gleamed so brightly.

It was made of metal; shiny steel. It had a leather chin strap, and a raised ridge on top to reinforce it and protect its precious contents. On each side were doves, blind embossed, with the heads pointing toward the front, and in flight. It was beautiful!

Then the Lord produced a belt. It was thick and heavy, and looked like it would last a long time. It was durable, and would hold together all that the Lord was soon to give His devoted follower.

Next came a breastplate, made of the same metal as the helmet, and just as sparkling. In the center was the image of a hill, with three crosses. Bobby knew what they were about, especially the one in the middle. The breastplate covered from the area below Bobby’s throat down to his waste. It covered his heart and all the other vital organs.

Then the Lord produced a shield. It was large; so large that when Bobby held it, it covered from just above his feet, up just over his head. The front had a metal image fastened on top of thick leather. The image was a triquetra. Normally, a triquetra is three intertwined arcs, but here the arcs were three fishes. The triquetra, the Lord explained, symbolized the trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

The leather, which the symbol was fastened to, was made to be soaked with water, for when fiery arrows would come Bobby’s way. The leather was held on a heavy steel plate, with hooks on one side of the plate, and rings on the other side, at the corners. Bobby learned these were so one could lock his shield with his battle mates, and make a formidable wall to drive back the enemy.

After the shield, the Lord gave Bobby a pair of shoes. Actually they were almost like boots, held in place with leather straps. The soles were very interesting, as far as soles go, for they were covered with metal lugs, to provide a firm footing. This would allow Bobby to feel secure, no matter how terrible a battle he was in.

Battle?, thought Bobby. It startled him a little.

Then, almost as if the Lord read Bobby’s mind, He produced what would be the thing Bobby admired the most, so that he forgot about what had startled him.

It was a sword.

It was a broad sword, about two and a half feet long. Of all the metal work, this was the most dazzling, the most magnificent. The steel was forged in the hottest most pure of fires. The Lord told him it had been forged seven times. It even felt incredibly hard to the touch. As Bobby would soon find out, accidentally, it was very sharp! It was made short, for close-at-hand fighting. Later Bobby would learn another intention for this amazing weapon.

On the blade engraved was the Word of God, and the words would change, over and over, saying something different. It was all he could do to stare at the fine work. After that, he didn’t put it in the sheath, but held it close to his chest.

However, that didn’t last long, for the Lord took His own sword, and told Bobby to kneel.

“My Bobby, you are My knight. More importantly you are My soldier. Endure hardship, as a good one, always abounding in My work, for your labor will not be in vain. Do not be surprised at the battles that come your way; instead be ready, and know what I have taught you.”

Bobby felt very humbled. What a magnificent Lord he had, that He would do this with him. Things around them became very quiet.

That didn’t last long either…

Soon the Lord started getting more intense with His training Bobby. He made sure that his soldier would put on his armor each morning, even when things were quiet. Bobby started to feel like he couldn’t rest for a moment.

That was the intention.

The one thing Bobby enjoyed best was training with his sword. He loved to swing it about. He soon learned he had to be careful about who was in its way. There were times he would come closely to hitting an innocent bystander. That blade was really sharp.

One night, while they were eating, Bobby and the Lord heard a noise about them. It seemed to come from everywhere. It was a new moon, so it was hard to see in the woods around them. Bobby was troubled.

“Look at your sword, Bobby.”

He did. He was surprised he had not seen it earlier, but the blade was glowing. The words engraved on it seemed to move and change, as if they had a life of their own. They changed, and Bobby read as they did so.

He read aloud, “There is no fear in love;…but perfect love casteth out fear…because fear hath torment…He that feareth is not made perfect in love…”

He read some more: “The LORD is my light…and my salvation…Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life;…Of whom shall I be afraid?”

He looked at his Lord, who seemed pleased. Bobby’s fear went away.

“Why were you afraid, son? What made you fear?”

His head dropped down, as if to look for an answer. “I think because I had looked at the dark and the noise there. You had to remind me to look at the words of my sword. It was then, when I read them, I was no longer afraid.”

“You are right. Now take the sword and cut away that which is false. It can only be replaced by what is true.”

Nervous as he was, he did as his Lord required. The pain was excruciating. He now knew why it was best that the sword was so short. He saw himself as his own worst enemy, even more than the dark one.

Finished, the pain made him pass out. He didn’t awake until the early dawn.

It had been a night of victory, and often such nights are followed by mornings of failure. This would be no different.

Bobby was walking with the Lord, still wincing from the pain in his chest, now covered by the breastplate. He held his Lord’s hand very tightly. After an hour or so, he saw something gleaming in the distance. He found it difficult to keep his eyes off of it, and on the road before them.

They turned at a bend in the road, which kept the shiny object in sight. The distance almost remained the same.

Bobby walked off the road. Little did he realize that his hand had left his Lord’s. The Lord simply stopped and watched, as Bobby stumbled toward the object, as he got closer his pace quickened, until he started to run. With his eyes fixed on the object, he failed to see the large mud puddle ahead of him. The Lord dropped his head, as Bobby fell in with a splash.

Dazed, Bobby lifted his head and looked through the mud pouring down his face. The mud burned as it dripped into his eyes. He began to wipe it away carefully. Sitting up, he looked around, and realized the sword he held in his right hand (Bobby had held the Lord’s hand with his left) was gone! He looked about, and found it behind him, stuck in the mud with the hilt up. He reached for it.

When he had grabbed the sword, he was aware of the lack of weight on his head. He reached up and all he felt was his bare head. His helmet was gone. He panicked. He ran his hands frantically through the mud, trying to feel for the helmet. It was nowhere to be found. He began to whimper. As his cries grew louder, he felt a tug about his neck. He reached to it and felt the strap being pulled by someone behind him. It was apparent the Lord was reaching to place the helmet back on Bobby’s head.

He slowly looked up behind himself. There was the Lord, still standing on the road. He had not moved an inch. Not like Bobby had. He stood up and waded out of the puddle. Ashamed, he reached to wipe away the mud from the breastplate. As he did, he saw that he was scratching the metal, and it had lost its sheen. This had to be the worst day of Bobby’s life, he was so sad.

He was startled by the rush of water falling over him, as the Lord had grabbed water with a bucket from a nearby pond. His soldier was saddened further to see how badly the breastplate had become marred.

“I’m so sorry, Lord. I saw the shiny object, and I felt like I had to have it. Now I’ve ruined all You’ve given me!”

When Bobby mentioned the shiny object, he looked to where it was supposed to be. It was not what he had first seen, now that he was closer to it. It had lost its luster, if it had any. Just when he thought things were bad enough, they grew worse for him. He felt like such a fool.

“I forgive you, Bobby!”

What seemed like an endless amount of time passed. It actually hadn’t, but Bobby just stood before the Lord, off the path for them, but near the Lord.

Then all of the sudden, Bobby ran to the Lord. He almost pushed Him over as he leaped at Him, still somewhat covered with mud. He hugged his Lord with all the strength he could muster up.

Suddenly, Bobby felt a great deal of warmth around him, and even inside of him. Even with his eyes closed, he could sense a very bright light coming from between the two of them. He dared not open his eyes it was so bright. Finally, he had to pull away, for the intensity of the event. His eyes were still closed, but he soon slowly opened them.

He looked around. While everything around him was the same, and the Lord was still the same, he knew something was different. Then he looked down at his breastplate.

It was all shiny and new again; all the scratches were gone. It seemed to declare how he felt inside.

This made Bobby full of words. He remembered something he had read and personalized it. He stepped back and pushed his chest forward, and began to speak:

“It is doubtless, yes, doubtless, that I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowing of You, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win You, and be found in You, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, that I may know You, and the power of Your resurrection, and the fellowship of Your sufferings, being made conformable unto Your death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of You, Lord.

Lord, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in You!”

With a smile, the Lord put out His hand. Gladly, Bobby went forward, and put his there. They walked on.

After a few minutes, Bobby asked, “Lord, why does my armor fit so loosely?”

“Don’t worry, Bobby. You’ll grow into it. I promise!”

Somehow, Bobby knew that to be true, and could be trusted.

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