Every soldier has done time in a fighting position, guarding their particular portion of a defense perimeter.
But during those long, cold hours standing in a foxhole, few soldiers experience a visit from their commanding officer. Fewer still get a visit from some visiting dignitary. Oh, they’ll read about the Vice President or the Secretary of Defense spending time with soldiers at a dining facility. They’ll see pictures in the Stars and Stripes or watch news clips on the Pentagon Channel. But notoriety always seems to elude the soldier who faithfully stands guard at the breach in the wall and the dangerous gap in the line.
Will this forgotten soldier ever be tempted to give less than his best or slack off in his vigilance? After all, no one seems to notice. No one seems to care. It can’t be that important.
But his duty does matter. Even the Great Wall of China—which was too high to scale and far too long to travel around—was repeatedly breached because its guards were simply bribed into opening the gates to the enemy Xiongnu people from the north. This technologically insurmountable defense was easily penetrated because soldiers failed in their duties. The temptation to give up is greatest where the work goes unnoticed and unappreciated.
I once read about a troupe of minstrel singers who traveled throughout Bavaria in the 1870s, singing folk songs in both taverns and churches. But it was not an easy life. Times were lean. War with Prussia and then with France had nearly bankrupt the country. People barely had enough to buy bread, much less spend on entertainment.
Then one wintry night, it began to snow on an evening the troupe was to perform. Downcast, the group began to discuss if they should cancel that evening’s concert. “Let’s cancel. Attendance has dropped night after night and people are sure to stay home on account of the snow. Why should we work so hard to entertain so few?”
Then the group turned to its oldest and wisest member. “What do you say?”
“I know how you feel,” answered their leader. “I get discouraged, too. But we should not punish those who come because of those who do not. We owe it to those who attend to do our very best.”
Encouraged by his good word, the troupe agreed to perform and give it their best. In fact, that night they sang their hearts out, giving their best concert ever.
To their surprise attendance was high. But an even greater surprise came when a tall, well-dressed, distinguished man rose from a corner of the hall, approached the leader of the troupe, and placed a note in his hand. The excited leader beckoned his fellow singers and showed them the note which read: “From the bottom of my heart, thank you for performing so well and warming my heart on such a cold, stormy night. Your King, Ludwig II.”
Someone is watching and taking notice. Your King is mindful of your labor and sees that you faithfully strive at your post—even when your station is obscure and goes uncelebrated by man. God knows—and He will confess your faithfulness before the whole of heaven. In the Scripture our Lord commanded,
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: … ye shall have tribulation …but be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)
Dear Lord Jesus, help me to be faithful when my sacrifices and my efforts go unrecognized and uncelebrated. Help me to look beyond the celebrity and fame of this life to the glory that the faithful will share with You in heaven. Amen.