This morning as I was driving my little brother Daniel to the airport, we started reminiscing about our childhood, and among the many events we remembered there was also a story our grandfather told us of when he was a young man in the Romanian army. Looking back, I think he loved telling us stories of his youth as much as we enjoyed listening to them, but this one has stuck in my mind for the better part of twenty years.
The story went, that during a training exercise with the Russian army my grandfather found himself somewhere in Siberia in the dead of winter. Although the base where they resided was fenced in, sentinels were posted at intervals all around the outer perimeter, wearing heavy coats, and fur hats, but even with all the clothing the cold was numbing and bone chilling. As night fell and they made their rounds inspecting the sentinels, my grandfather noticed that some had secured their bayonets to their rifles, placed the butt of their rifles in the snow, and were resting their chins on the tip of their bayonets.
When my grandfather asked why some of the soldiers were exhibiting such strange behavior, the commanding officer smiled at him and said the behavior was not strange at all, but rather it was their way of staying awake during the long nights.
The sharp metal, pressed against the soldiers' chins served two purposes the commanding officer informed him. First, if they fell asleep during the night, they would freeze to death, so whenever they dozed off the sharp prick of the steel would rouse them from their slumber, and second the constant knowledge that if they fell asleep they would essentially be impaling themselves kept them vigilant and aware.
I said my goodbyes to my brother, made sure they allowed all of his bags to travel with him, promising we would see each other again sometime in December, and as I drove back home, I began to think of the spiritual implications that could be applied to my grandfather's story.
Though the spiritual night might long, thought the sentinels might be weary and tired, though the watchmen are in great need of some much deserved rest, we cannot fall asleep at our posts, for to fall asleep now, in this hour, in this spiritual climate amounts to nothing less than certain spiritual death.
Whatever it takes to keep us sharp, focused, vigilant, and aware whether it be trials, tribulations, hardships, or physical pains, may we welcome them as what they were intended to be, God's way of keeping His watchmen, His sentinels awake, and ready for battle.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.