Richard Eller Cohen: He was a heavy machine gunner in a section attached to Company I in the vicinity of Krinkelter Wald, Belgium, 17 December 1944, when that company was attacked by a numerically superior force of German infantry and tanks. The first 6 waves of hostile infantrymen were repulsed with heavy casualties, but a seventh drive with tanks killed or wounded all but 3 of his section, leaving Pvt. Cowan to man his gun, supported by only 15 to 20 riflemen of Company I. He maintained his position, holding off the Germans until the rest of the shattered force had set up a new line along a firebreak. Then, unaided, he moved his machinegun and ammunition to the second position. At the approach of a Royal Tiger tank, he held his fire until about 80 enemy infantrymen supporting the tank appeared at a distance of about 150 yards. His first burst killed or wounded about half of these infantrymen. His position was rocked by an 88mm. shell when the tank opened fire, but he continued to man his gun, pouring deadly fire into the Germans when they again advanced. He was barely missed by another shell. Fire from three machineguns and innumerable small arms struck all about him; an enemy rocket shook him badly, but did not drive him from his gun. Infiltration by the enemy had by this time made the position untenable, and the order was given to withdraw. Pvt. Cowan was the last man to leave, voluntarily covering the withdrawal of his remaining comrades. His heroic actions were entirely responsible for allowing the remaining men to retire successfully from the scene of their last-ditch stand.
I spent about an hour reading these Congressional Medal of Honor citations. The men who did these actions stood in fear of their lives but with complete disregard to the danger around them held their position, or undertook impossible feats, or saved innumerable colleagues.
Could you do something like that? I, for one am betting you can. You see we are in a struggle, a great struggle against mighty enemies. We are proxies in the battle between ultimate good and ultimate evil. We are soldiers, some voluntary, some drafted, some impressed in either the heavenly or the demonic armies. Satan comes at us with lies, distraction, shame, guilt, entitlement and fear. We don’t have to fully give in, but just believe one of his lies. To be drawn into doing his deeds. Alternatively, to be in the Heavenly army, you must study, work and learn. You have to make a conscious choice to be a part of Christ’s army, and to reaffirm that choice day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute.
“I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” – 2 John 7-9
We have to persevere through trials and tribulations. We have to endure through scorn and shame, even if the one delivering the scorn may profess to be of the faith as well. These are perilous times, when evil is called good, and good called evil. It will not always be a red man with a pointy tail who calls you into disgrace, but it could be a friend, a neighbor, a trusted colleague. That is why we must pray for wisdom and discernment and keep in touch with Christ as much as possible.
“That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” – 2 Timothy 1:2
We have our gifts, our families, our churches, our word, our oath. We have our God and the word of God to guard and to keep holy. We must steward what was given to us, faithfully, and through the trials in order to see our reward on the other side. We must test directives and directions given to us through fervent prayer. We ask for confirmation from the Holy Spirit for what is right and what is holy. Man is fallible, the Holy Spirit is not.
We have a tough road ahead of us. We can surrender now, or we can dedicate ourselves to the Kingdom of God and continue on to our own reward, our own Medal of Honor, as we pass into the next world and hear that our name is written in the Book of Life.
Lord, give us strength. Give us courage. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Give us wisdom and discernment and the tools and weapons to overcome the schemes of the enemy. May we continue to be mighty soldiers for the Kingdom, tirelessly working in our appointed roles to bring glory and honor to You. Lord, we know the times and can tell that we are in the midst of struggle. Help us know what to do in order to do your will. Give us guidance in every aspect of our lives. Help us become more like you and less like ourselves every day. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.