The Battle's End

The Battle's End

Kevin Payne

     Veterans Day, or Armistice Day as it was originally known is officially the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. That was the time chosen for the cessation of hostilities in The Great War, World War 1. The treaty was signed about 5 am on that morning. With the speed of communication at the time, obviously some amount of lag was required to get word to the troops and commanders on the front line.  But the setting of an arbitrary, symbolic time for it to take effect led to some very sad circumstances. There were almost 11000 casualties on the last day of the war, 2700 of whom died. Many of these occurred after word the armistice had been signed reached the troops. The outcome of the war was already determined, yet they fought on until they were released from that duty. 

     An American soldier named Henry Gunther is thought to be the last one killed in action during WW1, a mere 60 seconds prior to the armistice taking effect. This draftee rose to the rank of sergeant, but had recently been demoted down to private due to a letter home that was intercepted by an Army censor. The letter described the "miserable conditions" on the front and urged his friend to do everything possible to avoid being drafted. On that November morning, in a desperate attempt to redeem his reputation, he rose and charged a German machine gun emplacement alone, forcing them to fire upon and kill him.

     We are engaged in a spiritual war whose outcome has already been determined. When Christ arose on the third day, he guaranteed the victory for his army. We know the war is won, but we do not know the time. And we are still required to continue the fight.

      2 Peter 2: 20-21 says "For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them."

     If we lose the faith, if we stop fighting, if we turn away from God, our demotion will be much more severe than back to private and our fate will be much worse than death from a machine gun burst. We face the demotion from child to outcast, from saved to cursed and we face the prospect of eternal death.

     Hopefully we are not suffering miserable conditions, but all of us face times of difficulty in our Christian walk. What a sad situation if during one of those dark times we discouraged someone from joining the fight, from becoming a fellow soldier.

     Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."

     If we have given up the fight, we need to get back immediately, because we don't know when our time to fight will be over. We won't have that final 60 seconds to try to redeem our reputation with God.

     These thoughts are not meant to be discouraging.  We need to think about those who fought until the end.  They were rewarded with the relief of their burden, and with a return home to family and friends.

     We need to remember that the outcome of the war is decided, and that we have a great reward waiting us. Let us each keep fighting the good fight until the end. And remember to thank a veteran for the service they have given to our country.