The Day I Forgot To Hate — short story by Ted Pavloff

The following story was written many years ago by my father, who was a very talented and prolific writer in several different genres. But this particular story is one that he wrote drawing on his personal experiences during combat in the South Pacific Theater during World War II.  The details of the events and characters are fictitious, but the truths that undergird the story are very real and can be life-changing when we allow them to rule our lives. 

THE DAY I FORGOT TO HATE

SOLDIERS WITHOUT COPTERWe had sought out this particular clearing many times before (a queer, growth-free patch, isolated in the midst of solid jungle) to comfortably relax with a cigarette and sort out the results of the current trek.

We were a confident trio, and perhaps our gutsy attitude was justified to a certain degree. Encounters with Japanese patrols and snipers were anything but strange adventure, and the fingers of our hands were not ample to count the number of enemy soldiers we had personally annihilated.

The venomous hatred we shared for the Japanese forged us into a natural combination, and we relished every opportunity to satisfy that bitterness by destroying the enemy. We had come to consider the killing of Japs as a sort of game … a release that made the discomforts of war worthwhile.

The usual mixed sounds of the jungle surrounded us this humid morning as we stretched out on the damp turf. There was little reason to suspect approaching danger, and, carelessly, we dismissed the possibility.

Then it happened. They swept out of the jungle from every side and bayonets were pressing against our stomachs before we could touch our weapons. At first I thought it was a nightmare, and it seemed minutes passed before my mind cleared to the realization that I lay at the mercy of the enemy. I should have been terribly frightened, but whatever measure of fear I might have possessed was totally eclipsed by hate, and I could not detect it.

Desperately I wanted to fight back, but there was small profit in inviting certain death. I ordered my companions to lie motionless and hoped the next few moments would bring the break we would need.

I surveyed the Jap soldiers coldly. They were a poorly clad, hungry looking group and, to my eyes, ripe for the sword. The officer in command was extremely youthful looking and clearly the smallest in stature, but his appearance was deceiving.

His orders poured forth with powerful authority, every word emphasized with vigorous motions of his head and arms. The soldiers reacted instantly, and while three bayonets pinned us in a prone position, the remaining troopers hurriedly appropriated the K-rations in our packs.

Then, with a gesture I considered a mocking insult, the young officer tossed several pieces of Japanese currency at my feet, and turned to rejoin his men. It was at this instant he spotted one of his soldiers who had backed off a few paces, raised his rifle, and carefully aimed at my head. With the agility and speed characteristic of the Japs, the officer threw himself at the would-be killer and dropped him heavily to the ground. The hapless offender suffered several solid lashes across his face before he was finally permitted to join his comrades in a hasty retreat from the clearing.

Obviously pleased over the successful display of his prowess, the officer bowed courteously and smiled, then saluted a farewell.

I did not share his satisfaction. The knowledge that my life had been spared for some inconceivable reason was lost in a hatred that made my stomach ache. Vengefully, I hoped for a future meeting … over the sights of my rifle.

During the week that followed we were spared the relentless torture of night patrol, and the day treks were relatively uneventful. Frequently, and often at unexpected moments, I found myself stabbed by spasms of anger that stemmed from the humiliation of having been successfully snared by the enemy. Even though I had not been harmed physically, I stubbornly refused to be grateful. I was furious that I had been captured at all and vowed revenge upon every Jap I could maneuver into firing range.

Revenge was uppermost in my mind that bright afternoon as we trudged through the jungle on a routine patrol. We were advancing in a widely dispersed position, intent upon sweeping as much terrain as possible with a minimum of commotion.

I was advancing slowly in an oblique path toward a peculiar rise of solid rock, when the figure appeared unexpectedly …. I froze. It was a Jap …. Momentarily, I was mystified over his apparent lack of concern about concealing himself, and also the fact that he was unarmed. He was stripped to the waist and the beads of perspiration on his bronze flesh glistened in the bright streaks of sunlight leaking through the heavy foliage. I crouched low as he stepped to a narrow ledge of the rock and looked about him.

Then it hit me like a blockbuster – it was the youthful officer who had captured and humiliated me in the clearing! Ahhh … finally, I thought, we meet again. I gloated silently and promptly began mental preparations to repay a debt I thought to be long overdue. I studied the situation carefully …. I wanted a clean aim. So with unconscious movements of my body, I urged him toward the near edge of the rock.

As if responding to a spoken command, he leaped from the perch and approached a mound of rock directly in my line of vision, then hastily removed a cluster of loose branches and brush from a small hollow in the base of the mound.

I lined up for the kill. I held my breath. Then just as my finger was closing securely around the trigger, my eyes suddenly spotted the crude wooden cross that had been secured in that hollowed out area.

I peered down the long rifle barrel in confused amazement as he dropped to his knees. HisExif JPEG right hand raised to his forehead, moved down to his chest, then to his left shoulder, and across to his right – the Sign of The Cross! My hands grew numb and my arms trembled uncontrollably.

I’m not sure exactly how long the moment lasted. But slowly … surely … as surely as I had taken aim at what would have been a sure target, I felt myself lowering that same rifle and letting it slip from my grip. Without any conscious thought, I bowed my head.

I couldn’t account for my reaction. But a miracle had taken place. My fervent, persistent, burning desire to kill the enemy had melted away.

Within a few seconds I relived every detail of the incident in the clearing, when he and his men had captured us, and suddenly the realization hit me: The Jap officer’s actions in preventing my murder and leaving the money were not prompted by secondary motives. This man was a Christian. Painfully, I contrasted these truths with the hatred that fed my incessant drive to destroy the enemy anywhere I found him, and under any circumstances. Tearfully, I surrendered to my shame.

I cannot be certain of the length of time I remained in a state of remorseful meditation, but when I finally raised my eyes, the Cross was again carefully camouflaged, and the officer had vanished. I lingered only a short while. Then I set out to join Willmet and Conte … strangely happy and refreshed … having been set free from the terrible, unbearable burden of hate.

The End

~~~

Look and Live

WOMAN LOOKING UP SILH. SEPIADo you need healing?  Are you struggling in your efforts to receive it?  Do you feel surrounded and overwhelmed by the symptoms, the doctors reports, the unbelief of friends and family — crowding around you and choking off your faith?

The Psalmist in God’s Word felt exactly what you are feeling. He knew what it was like to be surrounded by so many enemies at once and hearing their taunting voices trying to convince him that God would not come through for him: “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me. Many there be that rise up against me.  Many there be that say of my soul, ‘There is no help for him in God.'” (Psalm 3:1-2).  But his response to that problem was to turn his attention to God. “But Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory and the lifter of my head.”

Another of our great forefathers in the faith, King Jehoshaphat, faced the same kind of situation: The kingdom of Judah was facing annihilation as the mighty armies of three nations came against it. Jehoshaphat called the people to a fast, and as they stood before the Lord, he prayed, reminding God of His faithfulness and saying, ” … We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee.” God gave them a total victory the very next morning.

In both instances, these men of faith did exactly the same thing to find a solution to their problem: They took their eyes off the enemy and put them on God alone.

That action is exactly what the Lord instructs us to do in the midst of what looks like a hopeless situation and certain defeat.  In Isaiah 41:10, He says, “Feat not, for I am with you. DO NOT ANXIOUSLY LOOK ABOUT YOU, for I am your God. If we have a God whose capable of defeating any enemy — and who has promised to do so — then we don’t need to look at the enemy, the problems, the imminent destruction. Where do we look?  We look at our God.

There is a light from God — and from His Word — that will lighten you. It will burn through the thick fog of doubt and suffocating fear and infiltrate you with its illumination and warmth. It will lift your faith — enlarge your faith — increase your faith — strengthen your faith — and bring you the victory. 

There’s an old gospel song from the 1800’s by William A. Ogden entitled “Look and Live.”  The chorus of that song says, 

“Look and live, my brother, live;
Look to Jesus now and live,
It’s recorded in His Word, hallelujah
That you only have to look and live.”

Yes, looking is the key.  But looking the right direction is what makes the difference in whether that key works in the lock. We MUST look to Jesus and His Word. Hebrews 3:1 admonishes us to “consider Jesus, the High Priest of our profession.”  That word “consider” in the original Greek means “exercise your mind on.”  What a perfect picture of the meaning of meditation.  We are to “exercise our mind” on Jesus.  Think about Him — about how He never — never — never turned down any person who came to Him for healing. And then think about how He is “the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8).

Hebrews 12:2 says, ” … Let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”  Jesus is the author of our faith, because He IS the Word of God. (John, chapter one). It is the Word that tells us of God and what He has done for us. Nothing but the Word can reveal to us the truth of God’s love, mercy, and healing, so nothing but the Word can create faith in us for those things. (Romans 10:17).  And that same Word continues to feed and strengthen our faith if we will keep our eyes on it. 

We keep our eyes on Jesus by keeping our eyes on His Word.   

So don’t look around you at the forest, dark with unbelief and fear. Look up to Jesus, your Healer — and keep looking up for as long as it takes. He isn’t going anywhere.  He’ll be right there when you look to Him, and He’ll stick with you until you have the full manifestation of your healing from Him.