Sunday, March 21, 2010

Life or Death

“What on earth are you doing?” Joshua couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Their presence on the battlefield was supposed to inspire courage. It wasn’t meant to be this difficult.

“It’s alright,” replied Phinehas dismounting his camel, “I respect my elders.”

The two men faced off, standing toe to toe, eyeballing each other. Phinehas’ tall muscular frame towered over Caleb’s short stocky body. Neither man was prepared to budge.

“In case you’re hard of hearing,” said Phinehas, “I’ll say it real slow and loud. YOU. ARE. TOO. OL...”


Phinehas never finished his sentence. The force of Caleb’s mighty punch to his stomach completely winded him as he dropped to the ground like a sack of barley.

“As a wood cutter,” said Caleb standing proudly over Phinehas squirming in the dust, “young green saplings snap easily in your hands. But old wood - well, that’s much tougher.”

Joshua extended his hand to help a very humbled Phinehas to his feet, and motioned for the other soldiers to stop smirking with laughter.

“Well I wont have the boy,” Phinehas said as he remounted his camel. “And with all respect, you may serve under my command today but your lives are in your own hands.”

Joshua shook Phinehas’ hand in good faith. “Moses wants you to lead this battle. Nothing would make me more proud than to see you win. And if we live or die, that’s up to God.”

“What about me?” asked Othniel.

“Do as he says son,” Joshua replied. “Back to camp. There’ll be other battles.”

Phinehas deferred to his elders and moved his camel aside to let them pass. And through the ranks they marched, amidst the gob-smacked gaze of soldiers less than half their age.

“Great day for a fight,” Caleb remarked,

“That it is,” replied Joshua, quite relieved to put the argument with Phinehas behind him.

“Of course, it takes a little while to warm up,” chuckled Caleb as he loosened up the joints in his stiff right arm. “Now that I’m not as young as I used to be.”

Like the parting of the Red Sea, thousands of soldiers respectfully stepped aside to make way for Joshua and Caleb. These ancient warriors were living proof of a miracle-working God, and their entrance onto the battle field finally ushered a much greater sense of courage than Joshua had hoped for.

As they reached the frontline, Joshua gripped Salman’s hand firmly with immense honor and humility.

“Salman,” said Joshua, “Is there room for us here by your side?”

“Joshua, ... Caleb, I'm shocked, I mean.. honored.”

“Just don't expect us to carry you”, muttered Caleb.

Joshua drew his sword and raised his eyes towards Heaven. What came forth was as much a life-long fervent prayer as it was a battle cry.

“God of Abraham, Creator of Heaven and Earth, grant me now the strength of my youth. Whether in life or in death, in this world or the next, guide me now Great Jehovah, into your promised land.”

“Amen” shouted Caleb, and all raised their swords and shouted in hearty agreement.

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