On Friendships

“Move out!”

The orders came from the officer galloping recklessly through the crowded camp. The sun had hardly yet risen, but the soldiers had been up for hours…waiting. The command had been expected. The battle had begun.

A soldier looked up from oiling his weapon. His eyes glinted with an expectancy sharpened with a firm resolve. “My friends, it’s time do do what we come for.” He looked around at his fellow soldiers. Men and women. Short and tall. Stocky, slim, smart, and silly. They’d come from many places with a single mission, a unified purpose—and this was their moment.

Training hadn’t been easy. Few had seen anything harder. Sweat, discipline, tears—and it had yielded soldiers. They would not wilt at the first sign of hardship. They would not stutter in the face of danger. They were smart and strong. They were soldiers. They were ready.

They began to gather their equipment, packing tents and weapons, food and clothes, intellect and determination. The camp disappeared as the dew melted away in the sun. Men and women lined up in their ranks, ready and prepared—ready for duty.

Suddenly, as the ranks were about to depart, the officer’s voice rang out over the ranks. “Divide! Surround and attack!” Lines began to divide into groups, separating as had been pre-planned long ago. Each soldier knew where he belonged; each had his own direction; each was ready. They would join together again when the battle was done.

The battle began before they had even finished regaining their orientation. It was swift and fierce…but decisive. They had won the fight—but the war was far from over. Orders flew, and soldiers began to realize that the General who had brought them here was ready to move them as He saw fit.

They would have to separate.

Separate? How could they…after so many months and even years of training and preparation—together? How would they learn to fight with others? Would other soldiers be as well trained? How would they even know who they were? They’d poured their lives into their work, and by know only knew how to explain themselves in terms of their division. And now it was going to change. Yet, the General had His reasons, and the soldiers knew that the war must go on.

Goodbye’s were short and simple. The same firm resolve that accompanied them into battle carried them into their new missions. Yet, though none would admit it, a deep and stubborn ache wedged its way into the soldier’s hearts as they slowly and resolutely made their way on their new paths.

The war went on. The soldiers carried on in their duties—training and fighting, planning and preparing, in places all across the globe. Some found their new work exhilarating—this is what they had been waiting for! Others struggled to understand how they were helping the battle. They had understood their work before—but this? How did this fit in the picture? Some waited patiently for the orders that were coming—orders that suited them most perfectly. Some lost their heart—and forgot Whom they were fighting for.

And, some mornings, with the sun about to rise, the soldiers who still fought remembered that ache, that day when they had been together—and then sent apart. Sometimes they could see the General’s wisdom, and sometimes they struggled to see His plan. Sometimes they yearned to fight with the men and women that they’d become soldiers with—the ones whose encouragement, advice, and correction shaped them for the rest of their lives. Oh! How they praised God for those days! But they knew that the war had to go on. Were they ready? They were.

They were ready to live and fight, train, plan, and pray for that day. The day that the war would be over. The day that all confusion would cease. The day when they would know that staying for fight was the right thing to do. The day when they would hear the General say,

“Well done.”


© 2005-2007 David and Rita Hjelle