Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Europe (excluding the United Kingdom) (02/19/09)
TITLE: The Sacrifice
By Ruth Ann Moore
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“Lieutenant,” an infantry soldier shouted hoarsely through cracked lips, as he raced, with bent form, through the depression; the acrid taste of spent munitions burning his throat, the blood of his fellow soldiers smeared across his chest. “We’ve lost three more men, Sir, nine are in dire need of medics. Requesting your orders, Sir.”
The embattled Lieutenant looked down the trench line; his hands too encrusted with filth to wipe the grit from his eyes. The channel was lined with his men, some still releasing bursts of fire to keep the enemy at bay, others lying on the ground, broken and spent. It had been two days since the inadvertent separation from their squadron, and they were now held in an irresistible pincer hold, time was not on their side. His men had been fighting valiantly, giving up never an option.
“We need a miracle, son.” He half muttered to himself.
“I believe in miracles, Sir.”
The Lieutenant snorted, distastefully. “And just where is your God now, soldier?” he spat. “Is He with those men who are dying in this very trench? Maybe He’s back at HQ having tea with the Chaplain? Or maybe, He could care less about what goes on in this world? Right now, I don’t see Him.” The Lieutenant shook his head disdainfully and pulled out a worn map. “We are pinned down right here.” His right index finger slammed down on the map, leaving a filthy imprint. “If we don’t find that miracle, we will be overrun by nightfall, and then,” he spoke through gritted teeth, “our best hope it to take as many of them with us as possible.” He tossed the map onto the miry ground.
The young soldier picked up the soiled map, and examined it carefully. Both men instinctively ducked as a shell exploded in a deafening thunder near their position. “Permission to speak freely, Sir.”
“Permission granted.” The Lieutenant clipped indignantly as he peered over the ridge of the embankment to assess the enemy forces ahead of them.
“I believe I am that miracle, Sir.” The Lieutenant pulled away from his observations long enough for the soldier to detail a plan to thwart the German forces and release the platoon from its snare.
“You won’t be coming back, Son.” He said solemnly.
“I know, Sir. It is the risk I am willing to take. The Bible says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. I have a Friend who did this for me. It is because of Him that I know my future.” A look of peace settled across the soldier’s face; a resolve and calm; a mind ready to face the enemy.
The soldier reached into his fatigues, pulled out a leather case and handed it to the Lieutenant, his eyes speaking more than his words could relay. Amid the raging fire fight, with grenades exploding, and Sherman tanks taking up their positions, the courageous soldier ran.
His mission was successful.
In the relative peace of the evening, with reinforcements relieving the beleaguered men, the Lieutenant was unwittingly to face the greatest battle of all. His mind was plagued with the horrors of the war, and the sacrifice of many for freedom. Out of respect for that young man, who would never again go to his home, he opened the leather case to find a dog-eared copy of the Bible. There with an embattled heart he read until he understood, for the first time, the epitome of Christ’s mission; freedom from the irresistible hold of sin and death; and on bended knee accepted the Sacrifice of One.
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