In this short story an army soldier chooses to disobey a direct command that would have killed an innocent mother and child, with far-reaching consequences for many. It is a Christian allegory demonstrating the truth that there is a Creator, one who knows more than us. You never know [the future], but He does.
The Christian message is that there is a God who knows all; who cares; who loves. He is good.
Evil came into the world and death & destruction are it’s consequences.
There is a shallow belief system perpetuated by those who do not value truth that God is a sugar-daddy in the sky issuing commands and responding to requests for continuous intervention at our whim. Our Creator however is bigger than this, far bigger, yet in a strange way there is a blessed form of living. He promises that blessings do follow obedience, and when we hear, respect and follow that still small voice, He does engineer life’s circumstances for His purposes.
Evil still occurs. Bad things still happen to good people, but for those who truly love Him, blessings do occur. This Short Story shows how when people listen to that still small voice, and do what He says, blessing comes.
It was a critical event in the war. The trap had been set. The enemy was approaching the ambush now and expectations of the village were high. Surely this time, after years of fighting the invaders would be dealt a severe blow? Hopefully even peace could result?
A solitary soldier was perched high enough to view the approaching convoy of tanks on their way through his town, as well as a clear view of the main street of the village in both directions, East and West. His walkie-talkie crackled into life. “Y’all set?” his commanding officer checked in for a final time. “Roger!” the army boy replied in army fashion. No gossip here.
They could hear the rumble in the distance getting louder and people made themselves scarce as they always did. No sense in standing around when there could be fighting in the streets especially after the ambush started. Hopefully things would be OK this time, but they were on edge, for this was a new tactic. Their village was chosen to be the one to take the enemy on. Long before they got to the city.
The army man rehearsed in his mind the role he would play in the upcoming ambush, He knew where the charges had been laid. He was there when his colleagues planted them. He was in awe at the precision that they had calculated explosive forces; he had listened as the experts had discussed where and how to place them to achieve maximum damage to the approaching army and he knew exactly where the blast waves would travel.
Pity the poor souls in the blast zone. They’d never knew what hit them . . . but this was war and he had a job to do. An important one too. He looked down at the plunger at his knees and his fingers ran along the handle almost like they were playing with it. “It’s not a toy!” he caught himself thinking, and consciously recoiled from the keys to the weapon.
It wouldn’t be long now though, the convoy of tanks, trucks, bikes and everything else bar the kitchen sink would be rounding the final bend and he knew exactly how he’d get the order over the walkie talkie. “Five, four, three, two, one . . . ka-boom!”
His eyes caught a movement behind a hedge . . . what was that moving? Whoever or whatever it was wouldn’t get away from the blast. Maybe a cat or a dog?
His heart skipped a beat and the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. He took in a sudden breath and a sweat broke out as he realised that it was a girl on a bicycle. How the h*ll did she get there? He watched in horror as her mother came running out of the house directly to her daughter screaming at her to get back inside! She was waving her hands and even though he was too far away to hear her, he could see that the little girl froze in a panic too at whatever her mother was saying.
The tanks rounded the corner and his walkie talkie chirped, “Five!”
No! This could not be happening. “I’m just a young man in the army. I’m not cut out for this!” was all he could think.
His training was clear . . . he would be pushing down that lever exactly one second after he heard the walkie talkie speak “One!” The would mean knowingly killing an innocent mother and child. He could not live with himself after that. How could he possibly do that?
The lead tank was almost there. If he let even that one tank through who knows what damage could result? Thousands of others could die. He’d be court-marshalled and his budding career in the army would be over. The shame he’d have to carry for the rest of his life would continue in his family for generations.
The mother was almost at her daughter now. There was no way out of it. He would certainly be sentencing them to death if he plunged as ordered. He froze in the knowledge that he had life in his hands. The weight of this decision pressed down on his shoulders and he tensed instinctively.
This was it. He clasped his hands tightly together and a strange silence hung in the air. The clocks seemed to stop ticking. The walkie talkie was silent. The mother seemed to know that something important was about to happen as she held her daughter tightly and turned to flee. It seemed as if there was a moment frozen in time. The convoy rumbled on.
A tear welled up in his eye, and rolled down his face. Then another and another. He found himself blubbering like a child. He couldn’t do it.
“Joe! Joe! What’s up?” the walkie-talkie burst back into life startling the young man. He’d lost awareness of where he was and what he was supposed to do. He found himself watching the mother and child running away from the blast zone.
“Run honey, run!” he shouted, as if she would ever hear him.
“Fire, Joe, fire!” his Commander was yelling.
Just another few seconds, and they’ll be safe, surely?
“Hang on!” he heard himself say into the walkie-talkie.
“What do you mean ‘Hang on?’ Fire you fool, fire it now! Three tanks and a truck have passed already!” the Commander was screaming back at him.
His training kicked in and he knew that he had to fire it. He had no choice but to kill the mother and child. “Oh God please . . . please forgive me . . . please protect these innocent lives somehow!” he prayed silently as he plunged the lever.
Then he leaned over and wept still more.
It wasn’t long though before he looked up. Deep distress overcame the young man as he surveyed the scene before him. To his left he could see the lead tanks continuing Westwards toward the city. “I’m responsible for that,” he noted. “I let them through when they should have been at the centre of the ambush.”
He couldn’t see the mother and child. “The blast would have killed them instantly!” he surmised. “utterly blown to Smitherines!”
The rest of the convoy was trapped and fighting had begun. The tanks were useless in close-quarter combat. The enemy was a sitting target and he could see, even with his limited battle experience that they would eventually win the war.
He wandered over to a nearby tree and leant on it. It seemed like he needed support and a tree didn’t threaten him. It wouldn’t bark instructions at him. It wouldn’t kill him and it just seemed to exist – peacefully.
His Commander had completed the debriefing and was summing up.
“By rights I should be court-marshalling you for disobedience in battle!”
The young man knew this was coming. His lawyer had told him the likely outcome too . . . a long time in the slammer.
“But what you did by delaying firing the charges, gave us the edge and actually was the cause of a total rout. You see young man . . . ” and the Commanders voice softened a little, “you blew up the enemies command and communications centre!”
“I what?” the army man listened in amazement.
“The fifth truck that you struck with your delayed blast contained the enemies leadership and their entire communications hub, so that we had an uncoordinated and demoralised force to mop up. Even the advancing tanks gave up without a fight when they realised that they were isolated and their cause was hopeless!”
The young man was now alert but totally speechless.
The Commander continued in his fatherly tone, and described his conundrum at how he had been humbled by an error from a junior, that he couldn’t bring himself to court-marshal the man that had made his life so easy, and who had directly saved so many lives, including that of innocent people. He’d even considered recommendation for an award but chose not to when their success was as a result of disobedience.
“You just never know, do you?” he continued. “All that planning and for whatever reason you delayed, it worked out for the better!”
“There must be a God!” they both thought.
Shortly after his release from the army, the young man returned to the scene of the ambush. He didn’t have a plan in mind – he just wanted to put old ghosts to rest, perhaps visit the grave of the mother and child he had killed. Maybe speak to a neighbour or relative and share the anguish he had felt when eventually forced to fire.
He was walking down the very street that the ambush occured from the West. He thought back to that fateful day. This would have been directly into the direction that the lead tanks had come. He would have had to run for cover back then if he’d have tried it.
He walked up to the tree that he’d leaned on after the explosions. It was still there, just the same as it always had been as long as he had lived there. He ambled over to where the plunger had been and surveyed the scene recounting in his mind the successful ambush and rout. The win he had initiated and that had forged a kind of peace, put an end to open conflict. The remains of burned out tanks and trucks littered the roadside and the little girl’s house was a mess.
The blast had smashed in all the windows and somebody had nailed plywood up to cover the windows. There were no powerlines anymore and the greenery was now brownery – trees all stripped by the blast. A sadness came over him as he thought about the way that war is so brutal – taking life needlessly. He was glad to have been dismissed from the army. Fortunately without a blemished record but a blessing in disguise, for sure!
But what was that he saw in the distance? The girl . . . at the back of the house? Surely not?
Getting up from where he was he couldn’t believe it . . . had he seen it correctly? Was that the little one that he was sure that he had destroyed with the plunger? Walking pensively down the hill and then finding himself subconsiously gaining speed, he headed straight for the damaged house. He peered around the back of the house and yes, for certain; there she was playing by herself in the back yard. He watched her happy and healthy for a while and then it started – just like it had back before the explosion, a little tear; then another and then he found himself blubbering uncontrollably – again.
“Don’t cry mister!” he heard from somewhere beneath him. “Don’t cry! There’s always something to be happy about!” the little girl was counselling him.
She was taking him inside by the hand now, and he hesitated. “It’s OK!” the girl reassured him. “Mummy won’t mind.”
Mummy? Her mother had survived the blast too?
Inside, he learned the victims’ story from the little girl and her mother – about how they had run for their lives and how the mother had protected her daughter at just the right time; at how the blasts were ‘miraculously’ delayed just long enough for them to get to safety around the corner of their house; and how grateful they were that God had intervened to save them. “You just never know!” the mother told the young man.
The young man shared his story too and amazed the mother and daughter at how he was the one who was responsible for hitting the plunger, and how he had seen them desperately running away from the danger, and how he had delayed the blast as long as he could until he simply couldn’t any more.
They in turn listened in awe at how the young man’s actions had actually achieved more by being disobedient and saving them and how it had miraculously won them the war. It was then the young man’s turn to share those special thoughts. “You never know, do you?”
Over the following months the young man spent time rebuilding and repairing the house that he had damaged with the blasts. He bonded with the little girl and in good time too, they became a family. As the word got out, there were many more in the village that would come to speak the same sentiments too . . .
“You’d never know, would you?”