Home seemed so far away. All Joshua could think of was the taste of a home-cooked meal, with waffles covered in syrup and strawberries, bacon sizzling and popping in the frying pan, and the smell of bread that just came out of the oven. He could imagine his wife, Marilyn, busy cooking, as his two beautiful girls came running into his lap that morning before his wife took them to church, a place he would not go. But now was not the time to relive old memories, Sergeant Joshua Ericson’s men depended upon him. And as he stepped out of his daydream and back into reality, it hit him; he was in the middle of a war.
Everywhere he looked, he saw complete chaos. The air was filled with the sound of gunfire, crackling radios, and men shouting orders to each other. Although Joshua considered himself to be a very tough and resilient man, he found himself struggling to continue through the intense heat that seemed to take his breath away. His eyes watered as a storm of dust and sand blew past in a cloud so thick that he could not even see the man next to him.
Young men with rifles and an assortment of gear were running everywhere, hiding behind anything that could possibly give them cover. Everyone seemed lost, but still somehow knew where to go. Joshua was not lost. He was a very confident man that believed in only one thing, himself. He knew not to depend on other people, fate, and especially not in God. In his life, Joshua had always succeeded through his own will and determination. His men saw him as invincible to harm and were convinced that bullets were afraid of him. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Out of the sky came a whistle so loud that it shot a sharp, agonizing pain through his ears. Joshua knew what came next, but he did not have time to react. In an instant, he felt himself being flung through the air and coming back down to the ground with a thud. He opened his eyes to find the world blurry and disorientating. Just as his vision began to come in focus, he heard the ringing in his ears, ringing so loud that he felt that he was inside a church bell.
At that moment, Sergeant First Class Williams came running over. Joshua never liked Sergeant Williams; he was always trying to push the Bible on people. It made Joshua, and many other people, very uncomfortable to be around him. Ordinarily, Sergeant Williams had a smile on his face, but this time was different. This time he knelt over Joshua with a blank stare in his eyes, as if he had seen a ghost.
“Sergeant Ericson, can you hear me? Sergeant Ericson? Joshua!” yelled Sergeant Williams.
Joshua could barely make out what he was saying. But as he spoke, his senses slowly began coming back to him as the initial shock of the blast wore off. Slowly from the tip of his toes, up his legs, through his torso, he could begin to feel again. It was at that time that he first noticed a sharp pain in his chest, and then a sensation of a thick, warm liquid rolling on his chest. As he looked down, he realized that he had been hit.
Was this it? Was this all life had to offer? He could not believe it. Joshua had only begun to live his life and had so much more to do. And the thought of Marilyn and the children alone made him sob. But, then he heard it, that melody. Sergeant Williams had begun to sing softly to Joshua, a last chance of comforting him.
What was that song?
He remembered, it was the song his wife would often sing as she went off to church without him.
“How sweet the sound...”
And for the first time it was.
Sergeant Williams continued to sing as Joshua quietly prayed for the first time. It took every last bit of strength out of him. As he continued, he noticed that he found it harder and harder to stay conscious. Slowly, he knew, that his life was slipping away. But for the first time he felt happy. For the first time, he had a Savior.
In the midst of war, Joshua found the one thing he never expected... peace.
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