A soldier ducked his head and inched forward along the wall, hoping his helmet was low enough. His leader had sent him forward and he was excited to finally be point. He had never been asked before, and he viewed it an honor to finally be leading the way.
His fellow soldiers waited for his steps to pause before moving in behind him. He could hear their choppy footsteps, some sure-footed and others with heavy steps and no energy behind their movement. He was sure he could name the three who were the most lethargic and discouraged. The same three were always the first to complain in the group, and he had joined them once. That was before he had the talk with his Dad.
It was his father’s speech that had given him new courage and new drive. Never before had he been in a conversation like that with him, and it had been a defining moment. To hear his father honor him had been humbling, for he knew the facts his Dad did not see. He had polished up his performance, pulled a few strings, used a few shortcuts to appear impressive, but he had never expected that his Dad would believe it.
He had always seen through his attempts at significance before. His Dad had never been satisfied with mediocre, but never rewarded intent or effort either. He had decided that his father would never be pleased with him. That was why the talk had meant so much. All those years of trying, of hoping to please, to be recognized as worthy had always been met with defeat. To hear the longed for words of praise, when in truth he had not tried very hard at all was a harder blow than another pat on the back and “you can do even better, I know it”.
After that visit from his father he had been a different soldier. Not that he had was never lazy or said a word or two he could have left off, but he was no longer a boy. He had become a man, and shouldered his responsibilities willingly. Even so, he had never been able to find his leader satisfied with his abilities.
It occurred to him that his leader was a little like his father had been, seeing potential beyond the action. Unlike his Dad’s disapproval, he had not let that bother him. Instead, he generally focused on the goal and shrugged off the details like that.
He heard a small scrape of metal when he didn’t expect it and froze, raising his arm in warning. The men were almost to him. He signaled those closest back, ignoring the looks a few gave him. The hairs on his arms raised as he strained to catch the direction and cause of the sound. His training aside, he sensed a danger he could not explain. His thoughts went to the men he was responsible for. He could hear their staggered breathing and his only thought was assuring their safety.
He felt a tiny twinge of fear, but ignored it. The adrenaline coursed through his veins as he stepped through the opening in the gate and into view of the machine guns held at ready in an ambush. He calculated the odds and the numbers and knew it was not good. He managed to shout “Fall Back!” as he dashed forward. Seconds later he was thrust backward several feet. Turning, he watched the three slowest men escape, only slightly wounded.
Moral of the story:
13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
In Matthew 2:13 we read about the flight away from the reign of Herod. The wise men may have been just a little surprised at the strong direction to stay away from Herod, but no more so than Joseph must have been to have another dream with an angel and be told there is danger. The angel seems to always bring challenges to Joseph. This one was no different or I imagine any easier to accept. Today we see people move around quite often, in fact I can say my neighborhood has an almost complete change-over twice in the years we have lived here. Back then it was a much different story. People stayed in the same region for generations. Many did the same job as their father, there was much to consistency.
Joseph is instructed to flee away in the middle of the night. Wherever they were it had to cause a little uproar for those they were with or near (there was no insulation or glass windows back then). From the day Jesus enters Joseph’s life he is trouble for him…his life was going pretty well before that I suspect. Our own plans and dreams do not always coincide with the circumstances we would choose but I would venture to say the truly impacting moments happen when we are not in our comfort zone.
I try to remember that my purpose in life, the reason I was created, was not to make a mark on this Earth. Time erases even the most permanent of markers. The young do not care about those marks, they are busy making their own mark. My purpose is fulfilled in submission to our creator. He is eternal, and unlike the young to follow, cares greatly. So intent is that care there is an accurate count and concern for every tear I shed. When put in that context, it seems silly to have the cares I find myself concerned with.