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Stories About Honor

These are some stories complied by Scoutmaster Paul Wake, who is honored to associate with Scouts whose own stories could grace this list.

Long before he became an apostle, James Faust was a young boy who looked forward to the day when he could become a Boy Scout. His mother helped him memorize the Scout Law and otherwise prepare to be a Scout, and young James was delighted when on his birthday he could join his ward’s troop.

One day his mother left him to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen while she went to care for a sick neighbor. James did not do his job. When his mother returned she looked at the uncleaned mess, put on her apron, and went to work. She spoke only three words when James came into the kitchen: “On my honor.”

The words stung the young Scout “worse than the sting of a dozen hornets,” and on that day James Faust “resolved that I would never give my mother cause to repeat those words to me again.”

Bryant Hinkley taught his son Gordon a story about choosing the right even when you are tempted to have fun doing something less noble. Following such examples built the boy into a prophet.

Two boys were walking along a road through a field, when they came upon an old coat and a badly worn pair of shoes. Off in the distance a farmer was working his field. The younger boy thought it would be fun to hide the coat and shoes, and then wait in the bushes to see the farmer’s expression upon finding his things missing. The older boy thought about that, but then told his friend that the farmer must be awfully poor to have clothing so worn. Instead he suggested that he would put a silver dollar in a shoe, then they could hide and watch the expression on the farmer’s face. Silver dollars were worth a lot to a boy in those days, but the boys agreed that this was a good idea so they each did it. By and by the farmer came out of the field and put his foot in one shoe. He pulled his foot back out, reached into the shoe, and withdrew the coin with considerable surprise. The farmer looked around and couldn’t see anyone, so proceeded to put on the shoe again, and then to try the other one. Finding the second silver dollar, the farmer knelt on the ground and prayed aloud to the Lord, rejoicing because he would now be able to help his wife, who was sick, and his children, who had no bread.

That lesson was worth far more to the boys than $2.00.

Another good story from the farm—I don’t recall the source—involves a farmer looking to hire a farm hand. A young man asked for the job, and when the farmer asked why he should hire the young man the reply was simply “I can sleep when the wind blows.” That perplexed the farmer some, but the young man otherwise seemed strong and eager, so the farmer hired him. Not long thereafter a storm blew in during the night. The farmer got up to keep things from blowing away, and discovered the barn secure, the hay covered, and the animals penned. His farmhand was still snoring in the bunkhouse, not worried about the storm because he had prepared in advance as a matter of routine.

Gratitude is central to a life well lived. It is not, sadly, common enough in everyday practice. The Bible records in Luke 17:15 and 16 that of ten lepers healed by Christ, only one showed any kind of upbringing: “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, and gave thanks: and he was a Samaritan.”

In the early days of the restored Church, Lyman Wight found himself imprisoned by a mob. A General Wilson told Brother Wight that because Wight was close to Joe Smith, and that he must surely know about Smith’s character. “I do, sir,” came Brother Wight’s dignified reply.

When General Wilson asked Brother Wight to swear to all that Wight knew of the Prophet, Brother Wight opined that Joseph Smith was possessed of the most pure principles, and was “a friend to mankind, a maker of peace.” General Wilson warned “Wight, I fear your life is in danger.”

Brother Wight was a man of honor, and would hardly compromise because his life was in danger. His immediate reply: “Kill and be damned, sir!”

Long ago a sculptor was working on a block of stone that would stand at the top of a tall column. He carved the stone with great care, laboring long over details that he hoped would be flawless. An observer opined that the sculptor was being foolish, spending so much time on work that would be placed so high that no one would be able to see it. “God will see it,” the sculptor replied.

Not many years ago my mother moved to an apartment building in Springville. Later that month a group of Young Women from her ward came by to visit, as part of a service project involving visiting the widows and the aged. She thought that was nice but recognized it was probably done out of obligation, and that with the service project assignment completed she probably wouldn’t see the girls come around again. However, again and again some of those girls came back to visit her. Those young women understood the need to welcome this older sister and help her get used to a new area. They honored their elders, their upbringing, and themselves by showing forth such love.

Long ago in ancient Sicily, Damon and Pythias were best friends. Unfortunately, Pythias angered King Dionysius by giving speeches arguing that the king had too much power. The king had Pythias brought before him, and Damon came with his friend. The king sentenced Pythias to death, whereupon Pythias asked for time to visit his family and set his affairs in order. The king laughed at that, saying he would be a fool to let Pythias go because Pythias would surely never come back. At that moment Damon stepped forward and pledged himself in Pythias’ place, promising to take Pythias’ punishment if Pythias would not return by the appointed date. The king was astonished and amused, and agreed to this bargain. When, days later, Pythias had not returned, the king mocked Damon, but Damon was certain that Pythias would keep his word, and had been delayed by some misfortune.

When the time for execution came, Damon was alone. As he was led to the executioner, the king again told him he had been foolish for trusting his friend’s word. Suddenly, Pythias arrived bruised and exhausted. He had been in a shipwreck, and had to hurry overland through rough terrain to arrive in time to save his friend and accept the sentence of death. The king was so moved by this great loyalty that he commuted the sentence, and asked the friends to become his counselors.

Nothing honors one’s parents better than child who learns early on and lives consistently the most important lessons of life.

One Christmas not long ago some parents did not have money to buy presents for their children. The family was in the middle of severe financial troubles, and there was not enough money even for the one doll their daughter wanted. As they did every year, the parents taught their children that Christmas was about giving, not receiving. Still, they hoped their little ones would have some gifts to receive. Unexpectedly, their bishop called the father to come down to the church one evening, and there the bishop opened his car trunk and pulled out bags of presents donated by others. The father had not asked for help, but accepted the presents with what graciousness he could muster in the midst of some embarassment. Then, on Christmas morning, the parents were moved much more when their daughter, who because of the unexpected generosity of strangers had received not just one doll but two, picked up the finest doll and asked to take it to the homeless shelter to give to someone who had less.

This must be what Jesus meant when he said we should become as little children.

The Titanic disaster provided many examples of both craven behavior (as with a man dressing in women’s clothing to enter a lifeboat), and great dignity in the face of disaster. Two of the latter stories involved the Astors and the Strauses.

John Jacob Astor was one of the richest men in America. When it came time to abandon ship, he and a steward lifted his pregnant wife into a lifeboat, and Mr. Astor insisted she go. Then he asked if he could join his wife in the lifeboat, but a ship’s officer said no. Mr. Astor walked politely away without arguing that a man of his station deserved special treatment, or bribing the officer, or otherwise behaving in any unseemly manner.

Mrs. Straus, who was on a retirement trip with her husband, climbed into a lifeboat but then climbed back out. She went to her husband and told him “We have been living together for many years; where you go, I go.”

One can assume that the strength of character shown in these different circumstances was not built by a lifetime spent cutting in line or otherwise wallowing in self aborption.

Scout values are not new. For centuries the greatest civilizations and societies have been founded on higher ideals than mere selfishness. Millenia ago in Greece, Athenian youth used to take this oath :

We will never bring disgrace on this our City by an act of dishonesty or cowardice.
We will fight for the ideals and Sacred Things of the City both alone and with many.
We will revere and obey the City’s laws, and will do our best to incite a like reverence and respect in those above us who are prone to annul them or set them at naught.
We will strive increasingly to quicken the public’s sense of civic duty.
Thus in all these ways we will transmit this City, not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.

Back in 1959, a young boy named Clifton Davis was on a school trip from New York to Washington, D.C. with his eighth grade classmates. As part of the trip, they were scheduled to visit an amusement park in Maryland. The morning after the school group toured our nation’s monuments to freedom and equality, the school chaperones learned that the amusement park was for whites only (this was in the not so far distant past, when such egregious bigotry was common in America). Clifton was black, and when they explained this to him he returned to his hotel room in tears.

When young Clifton told his classmates that he would have to stay behind at the hotel, his friend Frank Miller did not hesitate. He immediately declared that he would not go either. Then he told other kids in the group what was happening to Clifton. Soon Clifton’s room filled with kids, and before he knew it, eleven young men decided they would rather support their friend than go to an amusement park practicing such discrimination.

Years later, in 1991, Mr. Davis sat in a meeting listening to a young man named Dondré Green tell of going to a high school golf tournament at a private club in Louisiana. When the team walked out onto the course, club officials told the coach that because Dondré was black, he could not play with his team. When the coach pulled the seniors aside to tell them this, there was no debate. The seniors knew what was right and wrong, and what was of secondary importance. They simply turned and walked off the course, and the younger players followed their example. Another generation had produced young people who understood that honor comes from within, not from the trophies that could have been won in the tournament.

Mary Elizabeth Rollins and Caroline Rollins were only fifteen and thirteen, but they knew the value of the revelations Joseph Smith had recently received. Those revelations were being printed as the Book of Commandments (a predecessor to the Doctrine and Covenants) when a mob broke into the printing shop and began throwing printed pages into the street. The sisters were afraid the mob might kill them, but to preserve the word of God they rushed into the street, grabbed up armfuls of revelations, and ran into a nearby cornfield where they were able to hide from the mob.

During World War II, Auschwitz was one of Germany’s worst death camps. One day a Polish priest was sent there because he would not preach what the Nazis ordered. Nazi discipline was brutal, and when a prisoner would escape, others were killed to dissuade future escape attempts. One day, someone escaped from Father Kolbe’s barracks. The camp guards lined the remaining occupants of the barracks up in the sun and stood them there all day, until prisoners from the rest of the camp returned from their slave labor. That evening the camp commandant picked out ten men for execution, looking at their teeth and tongues to eliminate weaker workers. One began to cry about his family, but there was no mercy.

Father Kolbe stepped out of line, and was nearly shot just for doing so. But he spoke up and asked to be killed in the place of the prisoner with a family at home. He convinced the commandant that it would be better to kill an old priest who was useless to the Nazis anyway. Surprisingly, the commandant agreed, and let the men switch places.

The ten men were marched to a starvation bunker, from which the camp was used to hearing cries of torment, and savage fights as prisoners turned on each other when left in the hole to die. But this time it was different. Over the next few days songs came from the bunker as Father Kolbe led the group in hymns and sought to bouy their spirits, leading them through the valley of death by bolstering their faith in the life beyond. Eventually the Germans sent a doctor into the bunker with a syringe full of poison to finish Father Kolbe and those still alive. Because of Father Kolbe’s strength, even the bleakest of times was made more bearable for those he served.

It seems like a small thing, but then honor is built of many small things, done right.

Back when I was a high school teacher I visited a flower shop to get a bouquet of apologies for my wife. A student of mine was there, buying flowers also. We talked, and I asked who his flowers were for. It seems he had been asked to a girl’s choice dance, but had to say no because he had already accepted a different girl’s earlier invitation. He realized that as unavoidable as it was, that rejection might sting the second girl. So he was sending her flowers as a thank you. Already a gentleman, while yet in his teens.

In 1856, two handcart companies set out too late in the season to safely make it to Utah. Shortly before a general conference began in Salt Lake City, Brigham Young received word that there were still handcart companies headed west. Realizing the danger, he told the assembled conference attendees to go home and prepare a rescue. Horsemen, followed by mule teams and wagons, went out. Meanwhile, the Willie and the Martin companies were caught in the Rockies by snow. Some would-be rescuers, finding the mountains deep in snow, turned back claiming rescue was impossible. Some rationalized that the handcart pioneers must surely have found a place to winter over. In fact, the pioneers were freezing and starving. The names of those individuals who turned back to Salt Lake are lost to history, as they should be. The names that live on in honor are those who went forward to effect a rescue, first finding the Willie company, and then the Martin company days further east.

Among these were three teenagers in the party of rescuers who reached the Martin company. The Sweetwater River proved too much of an obstacle to the exhausted handcart pioneers, who lacked the strength to cross it. Knowing there would be no warm room waiting for them at the end of the day, and that if they survived the river they could well suffer permanent disability, three young men stepped forward from the rescue party and crossed the river again and again, carrying a number of the company to safety. Brigham Young wept upon hearing the story, and declared that this great act alone showed that everlasting salvation would await Allen Huntington, George Grant, and David Kimball.

Another rescuer was Ephraim Hanks. He had been fishing near Provo when he was impressed to return to Salt Lake City, and while returning was visited by a messenger who told him that the handcart pioneers needed help. Riding alone through the wintry mountains, Brother Hanks pushed on despite the danger of being so far from shelter. When he thought he might be getting close to the Martin company, he stopped to pray for a way to find food. Opening his eyes he saw a bison, which he shot and butchered. Loading the meat be pressed on, found and shot another bison, and reached the Martin company and distributed meat to the suffering Saints. He then blessed a man lying near death, who was healed within minutes.

When the rescue parties returned to Salt Lake, the valley’s Saints were in church. Brigham Young sent them home, telling them to prepare warm food and beds in their own houses: “The afternoon meeting will be omitted . . . . Prayer is good, but when (as on this occasion) baked potatoes, and pudding, and milk are needed, prayer will not supply their place. Give every duty its proper time and place.”

As Athens grew into one of ancient Greece’s two leading city-states, one of its finest statemen summarized the greatness of Athens in a funeral oration given to commemorate soldiers who had died defending the city. The speech reminded Athenians that their city could only be as great as the citizens were virtuous. He said:

We enjoy a form of government which is . . . an example to many. . . . It is called a democracy. And it is true that before the law and in private cases all citizens are on an equality. But in public life every man is advanced in honor according to his reputation for ability—not because of his party, but because of his excellence. And further, provided he is able to do the city good service, not even in poverty does he find any hindrance, since this cannot obscure men’s good opinion of him. . . . We are the only people to regard the man who takes no interest in politics not as careless, but as useless. In one and the same citizen body we either decide matters, or seek to form correct opinions about them, and we do not regard words as incompatible with deeds. . . .
It was for such a city, then, that these dead warriors of ours so nobly gave their lives in battle; they deemed it their right not to be robbed of her, and every man who survives them should gladly toil on her behalf. . . . You cannot weigh in words the service they rendered to the state. . . . You should rather fix your eyes daily upon the city in her power, until you become her fond lovers. And when her greatness becomes manifest to you, reflect that it was by courage, and the recognition of duty, and the shunning of dishonor, that men won that greatness . . . .

One evening I saw a strange thing when leaving a chapel after watching a broadcast of a general conference priesthood meeting. Three girls I knew from having taught them at the local high school were sitting there on a couch, in ball gowns. I asked them what brought them to church at that time. They pointed out that it was the night of the Senior Ball, the biggest school dance of the year, and that although they didn’t have anything to do but go to the ball, their dates did have something more important to do in the first part of the evening: go to priesthood meeting. And the girls were not only happy with that, they expected it of their dates.

Few other girls did, and few other boys thought of putting first things first when given the choice to begin partying early. But then, the path of honor can be a lonely road.

When Henry the Eighth was King of England he had a bad habit of getting rid of an existing wife to replace her with a new one. At that time Christendom was Catholic, and the Pope was the leader of the faithful. Because the Pope would not approve of King Henry’s actions, King Henry set himself up as head of the church in England. Pretty much everyone in England simply adjusted their religious beliefs to accomodate the King. Except for Sir Thomas More.

Sir Thomas More was a wealthy and well respected figure in England, and the King had made him Lord Chancellor over the chancery courts, the “courts of the King’s conscience,” which could administer equitable relief to correct wrongs. Sir Thomas More was known as a man of irreproachable character, who could not be bribed or bullied into abusing the power of his position. As it happens, that same quality of character prevented him from signing a document supporting the King’s action in essentially declaring the Pope irrelevant to England. Sir Thomas More did not publically oppose the King, but he refused to sign the document, and the King found it intolerable that one of the most respected and honorable men in the country apparently privately questioned the King’s actions.

Ultimately, a royal flunky staged a trial at which it became clear that Sir Thomas More must either submit or lose his head. Sir Thomas More grieved to cause King Henry difficulty, but as loyal as he wanted to be to the King, he owed his loyalty first to God. Since he believed the Pope to be God’s chosen servant, he could not accept the King’s supremacy in matters of religion. Death was sure, but since death comes to us all, and what matters is not how we die but how we live, Sir Thomas More stood true to his conscience even as the axe fell. That is why he is known as “a man for all seasons.”

Lou Gehrig was a great baseball player well loved by many fans. Nicknamed the “Iron Horse,” he was a strong and talented athlete. Then he was struck by a slowly debilitating form of spinal paralysis. Some would have reacted with bitterness, some with despair. When Lou Gehrig realized where his life was headed, and stood to give a farewell address to fans at Yankee Stadium, he taught America about grace under adversity. After listing the blessings of his life—his parents, his wife, his teammates, and many good games—he said “I may have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for. With all this, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Two years later, and shortly before he died, he called a friend to share news about a recent breakthrough doctors had made in treating what came to be known an “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” He explained that nine of ten patients given a particular medicine had improved. His friend immediately asked if Mr. Gehrig was one of the nine. Mr. Gehrig replied “Well, it didn’t work on me. But how about that for an average?—nine out of ten! Isn’t that great?”

Indeed. And so was his example.

When King Henry the Fifth crossed the channel to conquer France, he found himself facing a larger French army, and some of his men began to complain and to wish for greater numbers themselves. Henry’s attitude taught them something about going forward with a positive attitude, rather than defeating yourself before even joining battle. Denying that they needed any more men at all, he observed that battle would begin on St. Crispin’s day and motivated his men with these words:

What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin.
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour. . . .
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed,
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here;
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Or, as another famous Englishman put it, “Always look on the bright side of life.” Or as Winston Churchill said when rallying Britain against the Nazi menace in World War II, “Never give up!”

Jane Isobelle Barker Durfee liked to tell this story about her sister Harriet and friend Louvisa Bronson, from the early days of pioneers in southern Idaho. A Bannock Indian had captured a little girl from a Utah tribe, and was dragging her and beating her as he moved through small southern Idaho settlements asking for food. Jane’s mother took the girl in and warmed, cleaned, and cared for her while the Indian looked for food elsewhere. Then they hid her. Some time later the Indian came back with others in his tribe, seized the girl, and began to beat her. The adults who watched were scared to step in, but young Jane and young Louvisa ran into the middle of the Indians and pulled the girl back to their cabin. The Indians were so impressed by this bravery that they agreed to leave without the girl.

After the Revolutionary War, an officer wrote General George Washington with the suggestion that the General should become King of America. General Washington wrote back: “Let me conjure you then, if you have any regard for your country—concern for yourself or posterity—or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind, and never communicate, as from yourself, or anyone else, a sentiment of the like nature.” General Washington was more concerned with his country than his own glorification, and that attitude is why he deserves glory to this day.

The respect he earned helped the States again shortly after the Revolutionary War, when the Continental Congress did not pay the army, and former soldiers threatened to revolt. General Washington met with the leaders of the offended group, and as he was about to implore them to show restraint, he paused and took a pair of spectacles from his pocket. The soldiers had never seen him use eyeglasses before. Addressing them again he began: “Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in your service, and now find myself growing blind.” This humble statement from such an illustrious figure touched the soldiers greatly, and they agreed to give the Continental Congress more time to provide their pay.

Celebrity and honor are two completely different things. One hundred years after the first Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley, Apostle J. Reuben Clark paid tribute to those honorable but unknown pioneers “of the last wagon”:

But back in the last wagon, not always could they see the Brethren way out in front, and the blue heaven was often shut out from their sight by heavy, dense clouds of the dust of the earth. Yet day after day, they of the last wagon pressed forward, worn and tired, footsore, sometimes almost disheartened, borne up by their faith that God loved them, that the restored gospel was true, and that the Lord led and directed the Brethren out in front. Sometimes, they in the last wagon glimpsed, for an instant, when faith surged strongest, the glories of a celestial world, but it seemed so far away, and the vision so quickly vanished because want and weariness and heartache and sometimes discouragement were always pressing so near. When the vision faded, their hearts sank. But they prayed again and pushed on, with little praise, with not too much encouragement, and never with adulation. For there was nearly always something wrong with the last wagon or with its team. . . . But yet in that last wagon there was devotion and loyalty and integrity, and above and beyond everything else, faith in the Brethren and in God’s power and goodness. . . .
So to these humble but great souls, our fathers and mothers, the tools of the Lord, who have, for this great people, hewed the stones and laid the foundations of God’s Kingdom, solid as the granite mountains from which they carved the rocks for their temple, to these humble souls, great in faith, great in work, great in righteousness, great in fashioning our priceless heritage, I humbly render my love, my respect, my reverent homage. God keep their memories ever fresh among us, their children, to help us meet our duties even as they met theirs. . . .

People who think that facing the jeers of peers is difficult, should consider the nobility Horatius showed when facing Etruscan spears.

In the early days of ancient Rome, the Romans were still weak and the city was defended by guards at a wooden bridge over the Tiber River. One day, Estruscan horseman swept down toward the bridge, trying to kill the guards and prevent destruction of the bridge so their invasion force could arrive on foot and hurry into the city. Horatius stood at his post at the side of the bridge nearest the attackers, rather than fleeing, and told his compatriots across the bridge to destroy it with axes as quickly as possible while he held off the horsemen. His words still ring.

Then spake brave Horatius,
The captain of the gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temple of his gods?”

Horatius held off the Etruscans until the bridge was destroyed, losing an eye in the fight. Then he leapt into the river and escaped to the other side. The poem commemorating him is stirring, and hopefully we too would die for our beliefs and loved ones if faced with no honorable alternative. But are we willing to live for our beliefs? Even when it would be easier to compromise?

One day when young Abraham Lincoln was working as a store clerk, he closed the store at the end of the day and tallied the day’s earnings and made a discovery. He had charged one customer six cents too much. Six cents is not a great deal of money, but it was money that rightfully belonged to the customer. So after work Abe Lincoln walked the three miles to her home, returned the money, and then walked back in the moonlight. That night he could look at himself in the mirror and be confident he saw an honest man.

When General Lucas and his mobbers seized Joseph Smith and others who were traveling with the prophet, Lucas wrote an order to General Alexander Doniphan telling him to shoot the prisoners the next morning. Even though many of the state militia units were acting as mobs against the Mormons, they were the military of the day, and General Doniphan was expected to obey orders or face military discipline. Still, his letter back was emphatic: “It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall march for Liberty [Missouri] tomorrow morning at 8:00 o'clock; and if you execute these men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God.” This saved the prophet and his company, and the memory of the courageous Alexander Doniphan has ever after been revered among the Saints.

An ancient legend tells of a land in which a castle of valiant knights protected the people of a forest plagued by dangerous giants. These knights had silver shields created by a magician, and a knight’s shield would shine brighter the more good the knight did in the land. However, if a knight were lazy or cowardly or vain, the knight’s shield would become increasingly cloudy until the knight would be ashamed to bear it. In rare cases in which a knight showed exceptional valor and devotion to duty, a golden star would appear in the center of the shield.

One day dangerous giants gathered together to try to drive the knights from the land. Seeing their preparations, the lord of the castle gathered his knights together to ride out to battle. Young Sir Roland had only recently acquired his shield, and dreamed of distinguishing himself. But the lord of the castle ordered him to stay behind and guard the gate, to prevent anyone from entering the castle until the knights returned.

Sir Roland was very disappointed, but stood at the gate to do his duty. Eventually a lone knight rode up wearily, shield dull. The knight offered to trade places with Sir Roland, and let Sir Roland seek glory while the knight would guard the gate. Sir Roland almost leapt at the chance, but realized he had promised to stay at his post, and so he refused the offer.

In a while, an old woman approached the castle, begging for food. She said she had been near the battle, and that the knights were doing poorly. She mocked the young knight for being afraid to join his companions. Sir Roland gave the woman food, but resisted the temptation to prove to her his bravery by doing something he had committed not to do.

Next, an old man in a long cloak appeared across the moat. The man claimed to be a magician, and to have a magic sword with which Sir Roland could save his friends from destruction if he would leave the gate and join the battle in the forest. Sir Roland was so tempted that he had to move back and raise the drawbridge to cut himself off from the strange man. Suddenly, the “magician” threw off his cloak, and began to grow. He turned into a great giant, and howled at Sir Roland in frustration before turning back to the forest.

Eventually the company of knights rode back, tired but victorious. As they approached the gate they stopped in wonder. There, shining on Sir Roland’s shield, was a golden star. Some knights did not understand how someone who had not fought in battle could earn such honor. But the lord of the castle knew, and explained that some of the hardest battles of all are not against an armed foe. In disciplining himself to do his duty, Sir Roland had fought the hardest battle of the day.

Finally, a cautionary tale to contrast with the stories above. You may have heard the inspiring poem “Footprints in the Sand.” It’s the poem about the person who looks back at the path of his life and sees in the sand the footprints of Jesus alongside his own, but in same places only sees one set of footprints. He asks Jesus why Jesus left at those points, and Jesus tells him that He did not leave; at those times He was carrying him.

The Savior will always carry us when we need it. But never forget that there is an opposite to honor, and that dishonor starts with laziness, self-centeredness, and failure to do one’s best to do one’s duty.

Buttprints in the Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?
Those prints are large and round and neat,
But Lord, they are too big for feet.”

“My child,” He said in somber tones,
“For miles I carried you along.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.”

“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt.”

“Because in life there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave your buttprints in the sand.”

Walk the path of honor. Soar with eagles. Do your best to do your duty.

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Created by Paul Wake.
Last updated June 28, 2003.

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