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This has been a week of reflecting on the gift of freedom, and all such reflections of liberty should remind us that the greatest liberty of all, namely, the liberty of eternal life, came to us at great cost and with much suffering. Jesus Christ sacrificed His life to purchase our freedom, to save us from the tyranny of sin. And not only Jesus, but many thousands of His disciples also suffered and sacrificed in due time to see His liberties and freedoms handed down to our generation to be enjoyed this very day. Thinking about this I was reminded of the words of Oliver Buswell, former president of Wheaton College, as he wrote home to his parents shortly before the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne offensive of World War I.
Here is what he said:
Sep. 24, 1918
Dear Father and Mother:
I'm writing just before what will probably be the greatest military activity the world has ever seen. There are lots of interesting things might be told, but I'll tell you all about it when I get back home! One thing that would be very significant in religious work, and it is an order that's scattered everywhere so every private and orderly knows it, is that anyone who at any time orders any kind of retreat or retirement, is to be shot down at once by an officer. If no officer hears it, the enlisted men must take the offender to the nearest officer to be shot.
We're going forward, and no orders to retreat can possibly be official. Germany has repeatedly sent men into the Allied ranks perfectly disguised as Allied officers, speaking English or French perfectly, to order a retreat, just as the Devil sends the same kind of people into the church looking like perfect Christians. The only way to overcome it is to have it understood that our forces never retreat!
This is going to be a great fight! But the fight for Christianity in our forces is the one which includes all other great causes. You don't know how glad I am that I'm in that fight primarily.
Don't worry about me even if you hear our regiment has been 'in it.' I'm in the Lord's hands.
Much, much love,
The only way to overcome the sapping of Christian resolve by those who make but a pretense to Christ is to have it understood by all that no order to retreat is ever given by Christ. No withdrawal from the love of the brotherhood is ever acceptable. We are called by Christ to love, to love at all times, to love at all costs, to love in spite of every tyranny. It is a call to bear the burdens of others, to endure great suffering for their blessing, and to be willing to sacrifice all, if necessary, for the sake of their ultimate salvation. From this great cause of liberty no surrender or retreat is possible. No call to stand down is ever issued.