Joshua stood in the cold evening air, gripping his sword as he stared at the sea of neatly aligned tents before him. Twenty thousand soldiers were at his command, many getting ready to sleep. He would be rising them shortly before dawn, to lead them in war against Margus and his rebels.
Margus had only fifteen thousand men, but he was a brilliant tactician. Joshua would need all the wisdom he could get if he was to outsmart his opponent. As he watched a couple soldiers douse a campfire before heading to their tent, he wondered if they would still be alive the following evening. The lives of his men depended on his decisions, and it weighed heavily on his mind.
“Sir?” the voice of a young man broke Joshua from his thoughts.
“Yes, Franklin, what is it?”
“General Kor wanted me to let you know they’re all waiting for the final orders."
“Oh, yes, thank you.”
Franklin turned to leave when Joshua spoke again.
“How old are you, Franklin?”
“Nineteen… you're young for a soldier. Tell me, are you ready for the battle tomorrow?”
Franklin gave a slight smile. “Can anybody be ready for what’s ahead?”
“I guess not, Franklin.”
“Whenever I think of tomorrow, my legs get shaky and I can barely stand. I wonder how I’ll get through it.”
“If it makes you feel any better, that happens to me too. What do you do to help quell that fear?”
“Well, I think about my family and the girl I was going to marry before this all happened. Margus is merciless. If we fail, what will become of them?
“That’s the spirit. A good soldier must be willing to give his all so that others can live free.”
“But most importantly, it’s God that gives me strength and removes my fear."
“God…I’ve been so busy lately; I haven’t had much time to think about Him."
“General Joshua, sir, it is now more important than ever to think of God and pray. It is ultimately up to Him as to whether we succeed or fail tomorrow.”
“Hmm.. sometimes I wonder why God even lets someone like Margus get into such a position of power. Why didn’t He stop him?”
“Maybe to help us look to God. We seem to forget Him when things always go our way.”
Joshua smiled at the young man standing before him. “You’re a strange lad, Franklin. Tell me, does God remove your fear? Or is your faith in vain?”
“Whenever I focus on tomorrow, the fear comes. But whenever I pray and take my mind off the circumstances and seek God, He gives me strength. A peace comes over me like I can’t explain. Would I like to survive tomorrow? Of course. I often imagine returning home, and running into my parents’ arms. I imagine hugging my younger siblings and marrying Martha. But God gives me a peace that even if that doesn’t happen, everything will be all right. Nothing takes God by surprise. He already knows the outcome”
Joshua stared. “Not many people have such faith as you do, especially people your age. May God protect you, Franklin.”
Franklin nodded and started to leave. He stopped.
“You try to hide it, but I can see the worry in your eyes. I don’t know how it must feel to have be in your position, with everyone looking to you for victory. But I do know God can give you and your generals the guidance you need. All you have to do is ask.”
God can give you guidance. The words weighed heavily on Joshua’s mind as he headed to meet with his generals. Guidance was what he needed more than ever. Joshua was a Christian, but ever since the uprising, he had been too busy to even think about God. Other matters pressed heavily on his mind and he always gave himself an excuse for ignoring God. Now he realized that was a mistake, for he was worried and stressed while Franklin had great trust in God. He knelt on the soft grass and gave a quick prayer before heading to meet his generals.
* * *
Franklin lay on his cot, reading his Bible, when his friend, Matthias, entered the tent. He glanced at Franklin as he slumped on his own cot.
“I don’t know how you can be so calm, knowing that we may all die tomorrow.”
“I assure you, Matthias, I would be just as nervous as you if I did not have this book and its Creator to guide me.”
Mathias snorted as he pulled off his boots and tossed them aside.
“Religion never did anything for me. The only thing that will protect me is my own strength.”
Franklin closed his Bible and turned onto his side to face Matthias.
“You don’t sound too sure in your strength. You’ve been scared of dying for the past three days.”
“Everyone should be. Dying is no laughing matter.”
“No, it’s not. Especially when you don’t know where you’re going when you die.”
“Don’t start that talk again.”
“Matthias, you’ve been a good friend to me. I don’t want you to go to hell. You’re right, tomorrow we may all die. But I have peace knowing that if I do, I’m going to meet my Savior. You can too! All you have to do is trust in Him.”
“That’s enough. It’s too late for such talk. We need rest for tomorrow.”
“Listen, please. This may be your last chance.”
Matthias pulled his blanket over his head and turned away. He didn’t have time for such foolishness. Why didn’t Franklin worry about his skill with the sword more than he did reading that book of his. Matthias was far better with the sword than Franklin; he knew his friend wouldn’t have much of a chance. Drifting to sleep, he made a mental note to keep an eye on Franklin during the battle; he would most likely need help.