One of my heroes of faith is Stonewall Jackson, a Civil War general. In 1861, during the first battle of Bull Run, the Unionists were gaining ground overcoming poorly organised Confederate forces. Jackson, relatively unknown at the time, gathered his brigade of Virginians and took a stand on the crest of a small hill. The cry went up to the other units busy retreating, ‘Look! There stands Jackson, like a stone wall, rally round the Virginians.’ They did rally and won the battle against overwhelming odds, though at terrible cost to both sides.
I feel as though I’m facing overwhelming odds right now. Not assailed by soldiers with rifles, but rather unsolicited advice telling me what I must and must not do. I do take advice; sometimes I fear too much so, but I do like to carefully select people that will give me good considered advice that I can weigh.
Why do I feel like Jackson? I think because all I can do right now is to stand my ground and take my own pace through the difficulties I’m facing. I get another long e-mail, giving me yet another sleepless night. And then I think, stay as you are, stand your ground. Am I right? Who knows, time will tell.
I mustn’t take the Jackson analogy too far; After 2 years of stunning victories, which he attributed to his deep christian faith, becoming General Lee’s right hand man, he was shot by friendly fire, dying of pneumonia some days later. His final words were, ‘It is the Lord’s Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday. Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of yonder trees.’ Did his removal from the scene alter the course of the war? Probably not, though he was irreplaceable as far as Lee was concerned.
I suppose the lesson for me is to watch out for friendly fire; just as dangerous as unfriendly fire, possibly more so.
Help all of us not to just assume that we are always in the ‘right’ and that we could never be deceived. President Abraham Lincoln whenever he heard people say that, “God was on their side in the war,’ was known to respond, “I don’t want to claim that God is on our side, I want to pray humbly that we are on God’s side.” Let us be people of prayer and people that humbly pray that we are always on God’s side.