It got me thinking about the nature of war and the basic nature of a true life and death crisis. A number of people around me have stated at one time or another that they do not know or really understand who they are, what abilities they have and what is inside their core being. All people wear masks, whether Christian or secular, we all try to hide who we really are. We try to minimize our flaws, our base carnal nature, and over promote our gifts. We get so good at masking who and what we are loose the sense of our true selves. We end up wearing a mask to disguise us from ourselves.
Life and death crisis strips away our masks and reveales our true nature not only to ourselves but to all of those around us. There is no time to carry all the layers of lies around when survival is at stake, we just have time to react as we are.
I have been in this situation a number of times and the results have been, at best, mixed. There have been times when I have shown what the light of Christ in a life can produce and I have also shown what a flawed sinful person can produce. It has always been eye opening.
I want to be Richard Kirkland, The Angel of Marye's Heights. Not the Richard Kirkland that fought for the wrong side of the Civil War which fought for evil ideals, but the Kirkland that found himself in crisis at the Battle of Fredericksburg. I want to be Kirkland at that one place at that one time. I want my core to be this believer's heart of mercy that day for that reason.
December of 1862, Kirkland had become a combat veteran, having seen action at 1st Manassas, Savage Station, Maryland Heights and Antietam. He had also witnessed the death of several of his best friends.
During the Battle of Fredericksburg on Dec. 13, 1862, Kirklandâs unit formed behind the Stone Wall at the base of Maryeâs Heights and helped slaughter the Union attackers. After a day of severe fighting, the scene shifted from severe fighting to tremendous suffering.
After dark on the 13th, doctors and soldiers began caring for the injured. The walking wounded made their way to the rear while those with disabling wounds remained on the field.
Daylight on the 14th revealed a ghastly scene to the Confederates behind the Stone Wall. About 8,000 Union soldiers had been shot in front of the wall and many of them remained where they had fallen. As hours went by without food, water or medical treatment, their suffering increased.
Nearby soldiers from both sides listened to the painful cries and pleas for help. While the suffering emotionally moved many, none dared face almost certain death to provide help.
At some point in the day, Kirkland could no longer bear listening to the pleas, so he walked over to the home of Martha Stevens. He went upstairs and told General Joseph Kershaw, his brigade commander, that he would like to try and help the wounded Union soldiers.
The surprised general at first refused the request, but he later relented. Kirkland gathered all the canteens he could carry and filled them at the near by water well. Then, at extreme risk to himself, he ventured out to help the Federal soldiers. He carried water and warm clothing to the suffering Federal soldiers.
I want to be Kirkland, a heart for at least one day that was the heart of Christ, the heart of mercy, the true light of the Divine out the core of himself. So far I am far short.
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, havemercy on us!”
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