|The Sargent and The Boots.|
THE SARGENT AND THE BOOTS THAT TURNED
There was once a Sargent in the Scottish Guards who was a fearsome man in or out of uniform. He was taller and stronger than most men. He was known as the "Mallet" because his fists were so large. When Sargent McGregor was off duty he would dare anyone to go one round with him in a bout of fist to cuffs. The wager was a tempting one for many but none could last a round with the Mallet. He could take the best blows they could give but after a half a minute he would stop playing and crash a powerful punch upon his opponent and send him flying, thus winning the bet. As much as the men in his company feared him they respected his leadership blindly. Sgt. McGregor was a seasoned soldier who fought in the king's army in many campaigns. He was fearless in battle. Sgt. McGregor was also a bully who used threats, taunts, ridicule and harsh punishments to keep his command in order.
Randy was a private in his command. Randy is the nickname for one who has loose values and morals; and Randy was a lover of fun, gambling, strong drink and many other wicked things. Randy was a good soldier who obeyed orders well enough and fought in combat with distinction worthy of the elite Highland Unit.
Returning from war in the east the Highlander's ship stopped at the island of Malta; the island where Paul the Apostle did many wonders. The highlanders had left to explore and amuse themselves on the island. Randy found himself separated from his companions and wandered about alone.
He came to a statue of St Paul. Without understanding why Randy was drawn to it. He could not help but stand for some time looking at the statue of St Paul. The statue seemed to trouble him but he was not able to leave.
"The Apostle did many miracles on this island." A voice behind him said. Randy turned and saw an old man in plain black clothes.
"The face on this statue looks so peaceful, yet full of authority and confidence," Randy commented.
"Paul was all those things- after he met Jesus." The old man said. "Have you met Jesus?"
"How can I?" Smirked Randy, "Jesus died long ago."
"You can meet Jesus today and know him as Lord and Savior. He loves you and died for your sins."
Randy looked at the old man and considered these words. The old man had the same spirit of peace and confidence. "Tell me more."
That day Randy learned the Gospel of Jesus and he received Jesus into his life as Lord and Savior. He became a new creation in Christ and resolved to live for Jesus with the same abandon and passion that earned him the nickname of Randy.
His daily prayers and diligence to read the Bible was quickly observed. He gave up strong drink, late night carousing, his language was without cussing and became gracious.
McGregor despised Randy for all of this. He saw religion as weakness and hypocritical. He bullied Randy harshly with many jeers and insults and gave the private dirty hard task to perform. The Sargent criticized every effort Randy made to live a righteous life.
In spite of all the hardships Randy was faithful to the Lord who he loved. He read the Bible daily and sought to win others for Christ. He was persistent in prayer. His reputation for Godly living became known throughout the entire regiment.
It became his custom to read the Bible in the morning at breakfast. A few guardsmen would sit with Randy and listen to his reading of a few verses. The Sargent would hover nearby for the purpose of mocking God's Word.
One morning the regiment was camped in tents in some distant campaign, and the soldiers were around the campfires when Randy read the words of Jesus' sermon. "But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: But whosoever shall smite the on the right cheek turn the other to him also." * The Sargent rushed out of his tent and pounced upon the words of Jesus, criticizing the teaching of Jesus with mocking and cursing. Randy quietly tried to defend the Lord's words but McGregor refused to listen.
It was a day of a long march through muddy marshes. The cold damp overcast day put the entire regiment in a bad mood; McGregor was more of a bully than ever, and his temper was growing around the campfire that night.
As his last duty of the day the Private knelt in his tent to pray, giving thanks and worship to the Lord; and beseeching God's blessing on the King, country, regiment and brothers in Christ. His words were soft spoken but audible to those passing by the tent.
McGregor hearing the muttered prayers became enraged. He was sitting on a stool next to the fire, and had taken off his muddied boots to relieve his swollen sore feet. Grabbing one he threw it with all his might into the Private's tent hitting Randy full on the right side of his face knocking him over. The laughter around the campfire was like a roar. The Sargent teased, "I wager he'll not turn that cheek for a time."
Randy quietly picked himself up, and resumed his prayers kneeling the other way, facing his other cheek to McGregor, who shouted. "I've never refused a challenge in my life." He snatched up his other muddied boot and threw it hitting the Private squarely on the side of the face knocking him over again. The private picked himself up again and knelt as before to pray for the regiment.
Many of the men around the campfire were humiliated by the scene of Randy faithfully enduring the Sargent's abuse. In shame and silence they turned away and sought their own tents. McGregor sensing he was losing his audience raised his voice louder and added more insults against the private and his Lord. He pulled out a flask of rum and drank until he stumbled into his tent for the night.
The sun rose the next morning shining its yellow light on the tents of the camp as the men were making breakfast fires to cook on and to warm themselves. McGregor opened the flap of his tent to preview the weather and mood of the Guardsmen. His eyes rested upon two shiny beautiful boots before his tent. The leather shown with polish and the brass fittings were buffed until they gave off a golden light. They were his own boots that he had thrown at the faithful Christian Private. The boots were now cleaned of all grime and mud; they were restored to condition better than McGregor had seen since they were new.
"Who cleaned my boots?" The Sargent muttered half suspecting the answer. A passing Guardsman carrying a bucket of water supposing the question was addressed to him replied, "Private Randy, Sir. He spent most of the night at the task."
The words and sight of the cleaned boots did what battles and warfare could not do. McGregor's resistance broke and his heart melted by an act of love and forgiveness. The many words of the Gospel which Randy faithfully proclaimed flooded up in his soul. Tears rolled down his scarred cheeks. He turned back into the tent, knelt next to the cot and prayed, confessing his sins and receiving the love of his Lord who he now trusted as Savior.
* Matthew 5:39