THE PRESIDENT AND THE SOLDIER.
In the days of the American Civil War, a Union soldier named William Scott was given the responsibility of guarding an important bridge on the Potomac River. Because Confederate troops occupied the hills on the other side of the bridge, the order was given that any guard found sleeping at his post on that bridge would be shot.
William Scott had been on duty one night and the next night had taken the place of a friend who was sick. He was assigned to guard the bridge again-for a third straight night. When another soldier came the next morning to relieve him of his post, William Scott was found asleep and was quickly sentenced to be shot.
A group of that soldier's friends rode the few miles to the White House, where they were granted an audience with President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln listened to the soldiers' story and to their pleas for him to help their friend. Later that day, the president rode out from the White House and met with Scott.
The president informed William Scott that he was not going to be shot; instead, he would be allowed to return to his regiment. Then, said Abraham Lincoln, "What I want to know is how you are going to pay me back. My bill is a large one, and there is only one man in all the world who can pay it. His name is William Scott. If from this day, you will promise to do your whole duty as a soldier, the debt will be paid."
Scott promised and thanked the president for his pardon. Not long after that event, William Scott's regiment charged into battle against the Confederate army, and Scott was mortally wounded. His friends carried him off the field, bleeding and gasping for breath.
"Tell the president," he gasped. "I have tried to be a good and faithful soldier." And then he breathed a prayer for Abraham Lincoln as he died.
That story, which was set to verse and read in the United States Senate with Lincoln himself present, shows the gratitude and faithfulness of one soldier. But in a much larger way, it shows how good and praiseworthy faithfulness itself is.
It would have made a horrible ending to that story if, after being pardoned by his commander in chief, William Scott had become a lazy, undependable soldier. Why? Because unfaithfulness is a bad thing. But Scott didn't respond that way. We're glad to read of his loyalty and faithfulness because we know faithfulness is good and praiseworthy, whether it's found in a soldier or in us.
REFLECT: Do you agree that faithfulness is good and unfaithfulness is bad? Why? Have you ever been given a second chance (like William Scott) to show your faithfulness? If so, did you try harder at being faithful and dependable? Why?
PRAY: "Father God, thank you for reminding me how important it is to be faithful. Help me to be faithful to you and to those who count on me."