The story is told that during the early days of the Civil War a Union soldier was arrested on charges of desertion. He could not prove that the charges were unfounded and was declared guilty and condemned to die as a deserter. An appeal was made on the soldier's behalf and, as fate would have it, the paperwork landed on President's Lincoln's desk. The President was moved by the appeal and signed a pardon, freeing the soldier. Then the man did a most surprising thing. He reenlisted, returned to service, and fought the entirety of the war on the side of the North. Tragically, he was killed just as the war was coming to its conclusion. In looking for some identification, found within the breast pocket of the soldier was the signed pardon of the President.
In Romans 5:1-2, the apostle Paul describes the "not guilty" verdict we have received by being declared "justified by faith." God's pardon of our sins has given us "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus' victorious battle over sin, death and hell has brought peace for all who trust in the Lord. We can live life without fear of God's punishment. We can enlist in the Lord's service as soldiers of the cross. We can arm ourselves for battle with the sword of the Spirit, God's Holy Word. We can share the Word with those whose hearts are troubled and confused. May the rich grace of God move you to faithful service as a soldier of the cross of Jesus Christ!