A Lesson On Spiritual Laxity
By Novid Shaid, 2004
(Author’s Note: First and foremost, this is advice for myself)
A nervous, young soldier, waited impatiently underneath his trench. Listening carefully, he held his breath. For a whole minute he heard silence ruling above him and it seemed that the bullets and bombs had stopped. Hope rising in his heart and feeling the strain of this long, hard, protracted war, he was sure this was a telling sign. Inwardly, he wrestled with his conscience. Fear stated that he should remain cautious and in a state of ever present alertness. Hope said, this was just rewards for his long hard slog, for holding the fort, for his indefatigability. Fear, hope. Hope, fear. Fear, hope. Hope, fear. Oscillating for a while, he sat against the mud and the stench of his trench, becoming increasingly exasperated. He gripped his rifle tightly, clenched his teeth, closed his eyes, then looked up at the sky for help. The silence and peace was just irresistible. Fear, hope. Hope fear. Fear, hope. Hope, fear. Hope. That was it. Resolute, he thought it was now safe to chance it above.
Out in the open, he witnessed the clear, open battlefield in complete silence and stillness, as if time had stopped. Thinking the coast was clear, he advanced, his rifle at the ready, his wits about him.
He walked several steps now, thinking he had reached freedom and victory. He even started dreaming of his arrival home to his neighbourhood where he would be hailed a hero and carried on the backs of his friends and doted on by the pretty girls.
Suddenly he snapped out of his daydream and found that he had reached the trench of the enemy. He looked below carefully to find it was empty. The enemy seemed to have retreated. What joy! He could not hide his emotion, believing now that finally the battle was over and he had won this entire war on his own.
Just then, without warning, he was shoved from behind, falling headfirst into the gunge-filled trench, his rifle falling away. Covered from head to toe in mud and slush, he desperately looked around and found himself surrounded by the mocking eyes and pointing rifles of the enemy, who stood grinning, baring their teeth below their muddy camouflage.
They now held him and, instead of torturing him, they promised freedom if he worked for them. And he, in his delusion, believed them. In his fear, false hope and desperation, the soldier refused to accept that he had been duped. He fell into the arms of the enemy and became a traitor to his people and his cause.
“I’ll leave the back door open.”
The young preacher, the one whom some of the women had taken note of, snapped out of his long stupor and looked around in horror, a revelation arising, gaining awareness from his strange vision. The confidence he had earlier, that he was only going to this secret meeting to give spiritual aid to one of his flock deteriorated before his very eyes. She was indeed beautiful, initially he thought he was strong and was not affected by the whispers that most mortals fought with. But now his mind ached and his heart sighed. He always believed he was an unshakeable soldier of the Lord.
He then glanced at the open door, which he was about to walk through, and remembered what the woman had said: “come around the back, I’ll leave the back door open. Don’t worry, I just need someone to talk to.”
A tear rolled down his eye and he walked away.