Movie Parables: Gods and Generals
Standing Like a Stonewall
Jeffrey M. Shaara’s bestseller, Gods and Generals was made into an epic motion picture that charted the early years of the American Civil War as well as the rise and fall of legendary war hero “Stonewall Jackson.” The beginning of the film highlights the first battle between the North and the South along Bull Run Creek. The 1st Brigade led by Lieutenant-General Thomas Jonathan Jackson engaged their northern enemy from Henry House Hill. In the heat of the battle, amidst the ferocious barrage of bombs and bullets, it was General Barnard Bee who galloped back to his troops, and, pointing with his sword to Jackson, shouted, “Look, there is Jackson standing like a stonewall! Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer!”
When the guns and canon fire ceased, and smoke lifted, Jackson walked down the battlefield. The war-torn land was littered with the dead bodies of soldiers from both sides. This devoutly religious man of faith and courage sat in silence amongst his dead comrades. Captain Smith approaches Jackson and asks, “General, how is it you can keep so serene? This day is so utterly insensible with the storm of swords and bullets running about your head.” “Captain Smith,” replies Jackson, “My religious belief teaches me to feel safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time of my death. I do not concern myself with that but to be always ready whenever it may overtake me. That’s the way all men should live. And all men would be equally brave.”
The steadfast love of God taught Jackson, as it did David, to feel safe in the bedlam of battle as in bed. God has spared his life in past skirmishes as He preserved his life in the day’s bloody encounter. David sings of his confidence in the LORD, “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you” (Ps 91:7).
Whether you are aware of it or not, we fight in an unpredictable and dangerous battlefield. In the thick of this fight, what is God teaching you to trust him for? When I look across my own battlefield I see a lot of disappointment, sorrow, chaos and frustration in the form of flaming arrows coming at me non-stop, all at once. Our lives can sometimes feel like a trouble-magnet; we’re sitting ducks with nowhere to run to and hide.
I vividly remember a trying time in April 2003 when trouble like a thousand arrows blotted out my blue skies. My father was diagnosed with a severe form of cancer and was given months to live. At that time, I was still being treated for a work-related back injury and in the process of losing my day job. That same month, another employer decides to sell a property that I was managing and I lose my second job. I also recall attempting to collect a huge debt from a former business partner and he was nowhere to be found. I just got through repairing my car on a Thursday and by Saturday my other car gets rear-ended by a motorist who has inadequate insurance coverage and an expired driver’s license to beat. And I can go on and on. And I’m almost certain that so can you.
Our longing thirst for the steadfast love of God is quenched when we experience his protective power: “You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday” (Ps 91:5-6). Those who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will realize that morning, noon, and night, God is our 24/7 refuge and fortress. We can trust no other place on earth for safety. As we retreat into the realm of the most transcendent communion with God, our spirits are tempered and fortified from within making us practically unassailable from the outside. Like King David and General Jackson we engage the enemy in the heat of the battle in the knowledge that we are immortal stonewalls until our God-give purpose is done. As our guiding Shepherd goes before us, let us determine to conquer in his name!
God’s and Generals (Turner Pictures, 2003) written by Jeffrey M. Shaara (book) and Ronald F. Maxwell (screenplay) and directed by Ronald F. Maxwell.
Copyright 2009, Gicky Soriano. All rights reserved.
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