DayBreaks for 9/25/17: From Coward to Courage
From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:
From In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado: “During the early days of the Civil War a Union soldier was arrested on charges of desertion. Unable to prove his innocence, he was condemned and sentenced to die a deserter’s death. His appeal found its way to the desk of Abraham Lincoln. The president felt mercy for the soldier and signed a pardon. The soldier returned to service, fought the entirety of the war, and was killed in the last battle. Found within his breast pocket was the signed letter of the president.”
What a poignant story. A soldier running from duty, most likely because of fear. Captured, caught, condemned to die, he pleads for mercy – an appeal of the sentence that would have caused him to be hanged and remembered as a coward. The plea lands on the desk of the commander in chief. And mercy flowed down to a man who didn’t deserve it.
We’ve all needed a pardon from time to time. Just as with the soldier who had exhausted every appeal, except to the commander in chief, we were out of appeals, too. Like him, if our Commander in Chief hadn’t granted mercy, death was certain. The case had been heard already and sentence passed. This was the only hope left.
What touched the heart of president Lincoln? I don’t know. By offering a pardon, others might desert when the times got tough and hope for a similar pardon. Some of the generals were no doubt angry about the president’s pardon – after all, discipline must be maintained in a military organization. They probably felt he was soft, or too old, or just to tired to think straight and make a good decision.
Imagine the relief and happiness in the heart of the soldier when he heard the president’s decision! He was free. He could have gone home. Who would want him in their unit when the chips were down? But instead of running home, he ran back to the front lines and fought for the rest of the war, only to be killed in the last battle of that great conflict. What happened? He was touched by the president’s act of grace. His pardon was so precious to him that it changed his life. He carried his pardon with him the rest of his days.
The grace of Christ has caused men and women to do strange and heroic things. To die singing songs of praise, to willingly submit their necks to the noose, their bodies to the flames, or their heads to the sword. The grace of Christ turned Peter from a denier and coward to a martyr. The grace of Christ empowered Thomas the doubter to be skinned alive (according to tradition). The grace of Christ empowered 160,000 Christians around the world last year to say “Jesus Christ is Lord!” before their lives were offered as martyrs.
Have you found courage in the grace of Christ? Has it changed your life forever? Tell someone about it. Don’t run from the battle – run to it. The cause of Christ will move forward. He’s looking for good soldiers who will, if necessary, die knowing their pardon has been established by the Commander in Chief. This IS the call of the Master to us. What will your answer be?
PRAYER: Father, make us bold because of our thankfulness of what You’ve done for us! Thank You for pardoning us and calling us into Your service! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.