Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Little Fort - Where I am

The Little Fort (When a Ministry Comes to an End)

This is a story that I am sharing with you, my reader, with permission of the author.  It echoes his sentiment. It echoes mine. His situation is not too far removed from my own. Seasons of transition, change, and ending are never easy for the minister or for the church. But even in this, "I do know that God will work this to the good of those who love Him and are called by His name."  

The following post IS NOT written by me. Here is today's guest post, "The Little Fort":

I find myself covered in dust as I glance over the small group our Lord has placed me to lead. They are a ragtag bunch, some bold, some timid, some cultured, some country but all of them are experienced veterans of the war. All of them have been in the war longer than I have been alive. These soldiers have been holding this position for fifty years. The battlements are burned and scarred from the assaults by the enemy. 

Once a proud bastion of light and wisdom, the little fort has become nearly forgotten in the war. Reinforcements and supplies have stopped. We have just enough supplies and warriors to last mere weeks or months at best.

A wave of melancholy washes over me as I look down at the orders in my hand. I look back at the veterans and back to the new orders. They read “You are needed north.”

My troops trust me and they want me to remain with them. For several years I have raised my shield with theirs and withstood the blows of the enemy. We have gathered in victory feasts and praised our king and shared our joy. We have mourned as we watched the enemy carry off some of our own. And we shared the mixed feelings of pride and sorrow as the King transferred our forces to new posts, leaving us behind.

What's wrong friend?” my sergeant asks me. A soft faced old man of eighty winters, whose gentle demeanor hides his true spiritual power and resolve to hold his position no matter what.

I hand him the orders. He reads it in silence, his merry smile faltering into grim determination. He looks up with tears in his eyes. “So you are leaving the fort?”

It seems so,” I say. “but I don't know when or where.”

He nods and gestures to the others who are still beyond earshot. “You know you are probably our last captain. This is probably the end of the fort.” I watch the history of the fort play over his face. I can see him recalling the fact his father and mother were soldiers and helped build this fort, carving it from the wilderness and defending the those who were lost and wandering from the wolves and beasts of the forest and field. I know he was remembering the day his own children were made the King's soldiers in the very hall of honor that stood behind me. But mostly I could see his pain at the loss of his wife who was the equal warrior to him in every regard. That had been transferred to the King's castle last year leaving the old soldier with an empty tent.

A dryness not cotton filled my throat. “I can only say the Lord knows what he is doing.”

Yes he does,” the old veteran replied and walked back to the others. 

I crumpled the orders in my hand. Turning away from them I looked up toward the skies and whispered “Why does it hurt so bad for things to change? Why do these forts rise and fall? What's the point of fighting for a hundred years to just watch it crumble and die because it just withers?”

“Captain,” An ancient voice cracked behind me. I turned to find the oldest of our veterans, a woman so old neither she nor any of the other soldiers knew how old she actually was. Her helmet was so battered and bent it was hard to tell what the original shape had been. This old warrior had fought some terrible battles. “I just wanted you to know I think his little fort is gonna grow. I think the Lord is gonna bring us some new recruits and help us to fix these old walls. I know because you are here.”

It was like a knife had slipped into my guts. “Oh sweet lady,” I said. “The Lord has his own plans for us.” I handed her the crumpled orders.

She read them. “Well I don't want you to go. I like you as our captain and I know this fort will grow so you just forget those orders.”

I want to cry. This little fort and it's soldiers mean much to my heart. But my orders are in my hand. I hear the screech of the messenger hawk. I can see the new orders coming on the wings of the Lord's hawk. I don't know to be happy or to cry. Why does change have to hurt so bad?

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