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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Measure (01/10/13)

By James Dick


The young soldier was alone in his foxhole. Private Wilson was covered in mud; he was tired, hungry and afraid. His forward posting had taken constant bombardment from Taliban forces including a fierce attack the previous night that nearly succeeded. There had been bloody hand-to-hand combat that left a mark on everyone present.

His unit commander had briefly chatted with him on his rounds earlier in the morning. He noticed the fear and trembling of the young troop and decided a visit from the chaplain might help.

Chaplain O’Herlihy, the battalion chaplain, was a Roman Catholic priest, but he ministered with equal care and attention to all. That was his job and these men were brothers at war. He came to the front line positions to show his support and show that he was one of them, even though he was just as afraid as they were.

The priest knew personally about the stress of combat and how it affects each soldier differently. He was an enlisted combat soldier years ago before deciding to take up the Cloth. This generated great respect for him from the men and they fondly nicknamed him “Father Rambo”.

As Father Rambo approached Private Wilson in his foxhole, he realized the young man was one of his regulars at worship. He now knew exactly what approach to take with the frightened soldier.

Peering down into the foxhole he said, “How you doin’, Private Wilson. Sorry we haven’t had a service for a while but it’s been tough to meet in a group with all these attacks.”

Looking up at the chaplain, the private changed his countenance. From gloom and doom, he broke into a slight smile and his eyes brightened.

“Hey, Father Rambo, glad to see ya’, but I ain’t doin’ so well. The constant noise of blasts and screams is awful. I feel frozen in place, scared and afraid. Last night I shook like a leaf and I gotta’ get over this fear.”

“Well, let’s see”, Father Rambo replied, “You’re a Southern Baptist, right? What would your preacher back home say?”

Wilson put his hand on his chin and thought for a moment, then said, “Preacher Roberts used to be a football coach, ya’ know. He’d say just suck it up and get goin’. And that’s what we did in late summer practice. It didn’t matter how hot, muggy or tired, we just kept goin’.”

The chaplain replied, “Well, Son, the measure of a man is what he does, not what he says. Does that help you any? Can you relate that to Preacher Roberts?”

The light came on in the young soldier’s eyes and he realized, “Well, Padre, I guess if I got over the misery at practice I can get over fear here. And I guess God will help me. So that’s just what I’m gonna’ do. I want to measure up. I want my buddies to know they can trust me at crunch time.”

Father O’Herlihy gently put his arm on the young soldier’s shoulder, smiled and responded, “Spoken like a true soldier. You got it. Don’t lose the fear, it’ll keep you alert. But work through it. And this easy to remember verse will help. Say it anytime you have doubts.”

The lanky chaplain opened his worn, war ravaged Bible and read Psalm 144:1 (NLT).

“Bless the Lord, who is my rock. He gives me strength for war and skill for battle”.

Just then, an RPG round whizzed overhead, exploding on impact nearby. The two men, one older and one young, looked at each other with relief and then crossed their fingers.

As the priest stayed low rising to leave, he told the young soldier with a smile, “It’s not our time yet, Son. See you in church.”

Private Wilson grinned and replied, “You bet, Padre, and thanks for helping me see the light.”

The chaplain was pleased as he headed back to the company command post. He knew that this young man would be fine whatever his fate. He was right with his Lord and would do what he must do.

The Lord works continually and everywhere, even in the vast wasteland of a battlefield in Afghanistan. He has a special place for young American patriots, wherever they serve. And he knows. Yes, he knows and loves each one.

And He loves the rest of us, too. Will you measure up at crunch time?

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This article has been read 457 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Janice Wappel01/17/13
Well written, good content and good flow with the subject. Great reminder of scripture:“Bless the Lord, who is my rock. He gives me strength for war and skill for battle”.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/20/13
I think you did a great job with this story. It reminded me to pray for all those serving our country. It,s ready to be safe at home and forget the terrors that those serving are dealing with.

I think you can tighten up your sentences some. To give you an idea of what I mean, I tweaked the opening a bit: Alone in the foxhole, Private Wilson was afraid, hungry and covered with mud.
Also I don't think you need the last line. You did a grand a grand job of getting your message across, but the last question can make it feel a tad preachy.

You did a great job of writing on topic. You kept my attention all the way through. You have a knack for writing and did a fine job with this piece.
C D Swanson 01/22/13
A perfect message for anyone us reading this. Thank you.
God bless~
Phee Paradise 01/22/13
Nice story telling. Your imagery and dialogue drew me into the story. But I think you spent a little too much time telling us about the chaplain. You could have shown that information through his actions and dialogue instead of explaining his past. You had a good message and it came through in the interaction of the characters.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/24/13
Congratulations on ranking 7th in level 2!