Merry Christmas and welcome to day 7 of the 12 Days of Christmas! I am so excited to share today's Story section with you today, so lets jump right in!
Part Five : Who is from Virginia?
An older soldier cocked his head to the side as James wheezed out his account of the verses God had been bringing to his attention. “What do you think I’m supposed to learn from this?” James asked. “I know I’m going to die here, so why would God be trying to teach me to be still and know that He is God and that He has thoughts of peace about me?”
The old soldier rubbed his chin and answered slowly, “Well, I really can’t say, only God knows exactly what message He’s trying to convey to your heart, but it makes me wonder…”
“Wonder what?” James rasped.
The man hesitated. “I don’t want to get your hopes up, son, but it makes me wonder if He isn’t promising you deliverance.”
James arched his eyebrow. “I don’t know about that…”
“He could be promising you longer life than you expect,” another threw in. “Maybe He’s preparing you to die, but maybe He’s also trying strengthen you for when the big trial comes.”
James grew weary of sitting up and slumped to the floor, resting his head on the rough planks. “You may be right… He does move in ways mysterious to us.”
“That He does.”
Three days later, unbeknownst to the prisoners, a heated conversation took place above deck.
“Fifteen grenadiers were killed last night, Captain. Fifteen!” the colonel roared, pounding his fist on his desk, his face red. “I don’t care what you think. Retribution must follow this crime. The rebellion must be stopped! Now, select twenty prisoners. I want a firing squad in town square two days from now. Perhaps a public execution will quench treason in these parts. Find prisoners from the area, Virginia men. Have them prepared for execution by 3:00 December 25th.”
“Christmas day, sir,” the captain questioned. “An execution on that holy day, sir?”
“Don’t question me, Captain. I may be in the Army and you in the Navy, but I am still your superior.”
“Yes, Colonel, as you like it,” the Captain replied with an exasperated sigh. “Sergeant, gather the twenty prisoners.”
The sergeant nodded and went down into the hold. He looked at the pale faces staring up at him. He spat on the floor. “Sickly lot, ye all are! Who is from Virginia? Speak up now. I want all Virginia soldiers to state their unit. NOW!”
One by one, nineteen soldiers announced their unit names. He looked at James. The lad was dozing, unaware of the man’s presence. He was used to constant noise now and could sleep through anything. “You, boy,” the sergeant growled, kicking him in the leg. “What is your unit?”
James drew his leg up to ward off another blow to his still sore leg wound. “15th Virginia,” he groaned. What was so important about his unit anyway. Wait, that woman had asked…
He blinked rapidly, trying to get his eyes to adjust to the dark. His heart sank as a wicked grin crossed the redcoat’s face. He glanced around the hold. “Well, now, I have me twenty volunteers to be shot Christmas afternoon. Corporals, chain them in the holding cell.”
Cries of distress were voiced around the room. James was still too weak to voice his dismay. In the holding cell, he listened as soldiers prayed, begged the guards for mercy, silently cried or just sat in a mute stupor. There wasn’t a thing they could do.
They were, all of them, condemned to die.
One soldier whispered out the name of his wife over and over; another bemoaned his six motherless children staying with his sister’s family. Yet another wept for his bride to be. James was too numb to cry, not even for his mother. He felt nothing, and what he heard went in one ear and out the other. He might as well be dead… it was better than being near home and not being allowed to go there. At least he would be buried on American soil…
Be still and know that I am God.
James closed his eyes. I know, God. I can’t get much stiller than I am right now.
What time I am afraid I will trust in thee.
Am I afraid? I guess I am… not of death, but of dying… Father, since I’m dying, could You make it quick? No suffering, just alive one minute, dead the next? I don’t mean this wrong, Lord, but… haven’t I gone through enough without suffering more through an agonizing death?
He broke off his prayer and sighed.
What do you think will happen next? How would you feel if you knew you were to die for something you didn't do? What do you think of the verses James has been quoting?
Be sure and swing by Stories by Firefly for more Christmas fun and tune in tomorrow for another Christmas Post!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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