AN AMAZING FACT: After the first day of fierce fighting in the Civil War battle of Fredericksburg, hundreds of Union soldiers lay crying on the battlefield, wounded and bleeding. All through the night, and most of the next day, artillery fire prevented their relief. Yet all that time their agonized cries went up, “Water! Water!” Finally, a noble Southern sergeant, Richard Kirkland, rose above his love of life and told his General Kershaw, “I can’t stand this any longer! Those poor souls out there have been praying and crying all night and all day, and it’s more than I can bear! I ask your permission to go and give them water.”
“But you know,” said the general, “that as soon as you show yourself to the enemy, you will be shot.”
“Yes, sir, I know it,” he answered, “but to carry a little comfort to those poor dying men, I’m willing to run the risk!”
The general hesitated, but his heart was also touched with sympathy over the suffering soldiers. “Kirkland, it’s sending you to your death, but I cannot oppose such a motive as yours. I hope God will protect you. Go.”
So the brave soldier, furnished with a supply of water, stepped over the stone rampart and began his work of Christlike mercy. Wondering eyes watched as he knelt by the nearest sufferer, tenderly raised his head, and held the refreshing cup to his parched lips. Every soldier in the Union line understood his tender mission, and not a single shot was fired. For over an hour, one after another of the crying, wounded, and dying was given refreshing drink, had his cramped or mangled limbs straightened, his head cushioned on his knapsack, and was covered with his coat or blanket as tenderly as though by his own mother.
It’s the same on life’s great battlefield, where souls are crying and dying from the fearful effects of sin. They are thirsty for the water of life, with no one to reach out to them the refreshing draft they so crave, except the One who stepped over the ramparts of heaven and came down to risk His all. Christ, on the cross of Calvary, rescued them from their sins by giving to them “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. Mark 9:41