I am a Sharpe fan. Sean Bean, along with Colin Firth and David Duchovny make up my three top men to drool over – outside of my husband, of course. I have seen every episode of Sharpe that often that I could step into the breach if they ever re-record the entire series where Sharpe is a small stout woman instead of Sean Bean in all his hunkiness.
“You don't see a battle. You *hear* it. Black powder blasting by the ton on all sides. Black smoke blinding you and choking you and making you vomit. Then the French come out of the smoke - not in a line, but in a column. And they march towards our thin line, kettledrums hammering like hell and a golden eagle blazing overhead. They march slowly, and it takes them a long time to reach you, and you can't see them in smoke. But you can hear the drums. They march out of the smoke, and you fire a volley. And the front rank of the column falls, and the next rank steps over them, with drums hammering, and the column smashes your line like a hammer breaking glass... and Napoleon has won another battle. But if you don't run - if you stand until you can smell the garlic, and fire volley after volley, three rounds a minute - then they slow down. They stop. And then they run away. All you've got to do is stand, and fire three rounds a minute. Now, you and I know you can fire three rounds a minute. But can you stand?
This is Sharpe training his men. They weren’t on the battle field at the time. Three rounds a minute required them to empty their gunpowder down the barrel, spit into it, tap it on the ground and shoot at the enemy. Three rounds a minute.
To give them feel for the battle field, I seem to remember Sharpe getting someone to fire the cannons and create lots of smoke and shout the words above at the new recruits. It was unexpected and there were lots of startled jumping about, but it got the message across.
Last night I was reading the passage in Ephesians concerning the armour of God. It is a subject that, let’s admit it, has been preached to death.
“Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Eph 6:16
The words and the scene from Sharpe came to mind. We may be good at putting on the armour. We may be armed with a shield of faith, and a sword of the Spirit. We might be able to fire three rounds an minute. But can we stand?
“They slow down. They stop. And then they run away.”
Sharpe could give that assurance to the new recruits because he had been there on the battle field and seen it happen. His words were not just holding out hope, stirring the hearts of his men to fight valiantly but in vain. He was speaking from experience.
This week I have stood. I have seen my enemy slow down. I have seen him stop. And I have seen him run away.
God holds out His promise of victory to all His enlisted men and women on the day of battle.
Can we stand?