A Beautiful Tale

from “Keep your shield shining” — a Sunday Sermon given by

I want to tell you a story today, that I think you’re going to love. It appeared in a set of volumes called, My Book House. I had forgotten this story, until a beloved friend of our church sent it to us.

There was a splendid castle in a forest. It had a high gate, stone walls, and turrets. The forest was dark and dangerous. Cruel giants lived there. In the castle lived a company of knights, who were there to help travelers who passed through the forest and to keep them safe from the giants.

The knights wore a beautiful suit of armor, carried a long spear, and on their helmets they had a red plume that could be seen at quite a distance. So that if anyone was in trouble, they could call, and a knight would come to their aid. The shields that these knights carried were a most wonderful thing. They had been made, many years before, by a magician who lived in the castle. They were made of silver, and they shone in the sunlight. At other times they were cloudy.

When a new knight came into the company, the shield that he was given was cloudy. But as he did good deeds, and was faithful in his service to the commander, the shield became brighter and brighter until it shone in a dazzling way, and he could see his reflection in it. However, if a knight was lazy or cowardly, his shield became more and more cloudy, until he was ashamed to carry it.

In the shield of a senior knight, who had been faithful, who had fought hard in battle, and successfully served his commander, there would appear a golden star, right in the heart of the shield. The only one in the castle, at that time, who had a golden star in the heart of the shield, was the commander, who had served long, and faithfully.

One day the worst of all the giants pitched nearby in the dark forest to fight against the knights, and the knights went out to battle with these wicked giants.

There was a young knight, Sir Roland, who had just come into service, and had been faithful, and loving, and brave. He was known to have great promise. And he so wanted to go out to battle to be able to prove himself. But the commander said, “Sir Roland, you shall stay behind, because someone must be here to guard the gate so that nothing gets through while we are gone.”

Sir Roland was very disappointed. And he was tempted to say something, but he bit his lip, because he knew he must be obedient to his commander. He was a disciplined soldier. And he knew that if any battle was to be won, there had to be obedience.

The castle was surrounded by a high gate, with a moat and a bridge that came over it. Anyone entering the castle, had to come across the bridge. It was unlikely, it seemed, at that time, with the knights going off to battle, that anything would come to the castle. And so, Sir Roland stood there, guarding. And for a long time, nothing happened. He could have gotten very sleepy and complacent. He could have gone off guard. But he didn’t. He was faithful to his charge.

Finally, a knight came along, limping. He was not brave, and he had been frightened away from the battle. And he said to Sir Roland, “I can’t fight any more. But I could watch the gate for you.” Joy leaped in Sir Roland’s heart, and he thought, “Oh, now I can go to the battle!” But then he remembered. He remembered his duty and his job.

And he spoke to the limping knight and said, “No, my place is here at the gate. I can’t open it, even for you, because the commander has given me orders to open it to no one, until the knights come back. Your place is at the battle.”

And with this, the knight became ashamed, and went back to the battle.

After a time, an old beggar woman came along. She said, “Oh, I’m so weak, and I’m so old, and I’m so hungry. Please let me in and give me some comfort.”

And Sir Roland said, “No, I am under orders to allow no one into the castle. But I will send a servant out to you with food, and you may sit and rest outside.”

And the old woman said, “Well, I’ve been to that dark spot in the forest, and the battle’s going very badly. You’d better go and help your friends.”

And Sir Roland said, “I cannot leave. I am under orders.”

And the old woman said, “But one fresh knight, with everybody else so weary. And there are no enemies here. Why don’t you go?”

And he said, “Perhaps these things are happening. But I must obey my commander.”

And then the woman said, in a taunting voice, “Well, then, you’re a coward. Isn’t it lucky you have an excuse to stay away.”

But because she was an old woman, and because of her condition, he did not respond at all, and she went away.

Next, after a time, appeared a little old man in a long cloak. And he said, “I’ve been to the battle, and the knights are having such a hard struggle. They’re losing. They need you. Go. I have in my hand a magic sword that you can take with you.” And he held it up, and it sparkled as if it was full of diamonds.

And the little old man said, “You go to the battle. And with the sword, you’ll win. You’ll become victorious and famous, and they will crown you. You will become the commander, and take his place.”

And Sir Roland said, “No!” And the old man said, “Take it, take it, it is for you!”

And Sir Roland knew that this was a threat, and he shut the gate, and pulled everything back. And as he stood looking out, the old man threw off his cloak, and he grew and grew, until he became the worst of all the giants, a huge giant. Sir Roland shuddered as he looked at him. The giant shook his fist at him and went angrily back into the forest.

After a time, the knights returned, victorious. And the lord, the commander, sat in the highest seat. And Sir Roland came to report on what he had done that day. And one of the knights cried out: “The shield! The shield!”

And in the middle of Sir Roland’s shield, was a gold star, shining brightly.

And the commander said, “What did you do today, Sir Roland?”

And he said, humbly, “It was very quiet. Only a giant came. And I sent him silently away.”

And the commander said, “Sir Roland, you have fought and won the greatest battle.”

And all the knights stood and saluted him.

Sir Roland was a hero. He met every temptation. And he met it quietly and humbly. Every temptation that could come to man, came to him.

Evil first tempted him to agree with weakness and cowardice, and to sympathize with it. Sympathy is the devil’s tool, as it pulls one down into the problem and makes him powerless to help.

Next, it came to him suggesting that he was so badly needed, that he should disobey his commander and go out to help; that no one else could do it but him. (No one else — personal sense!).

And then, finally, it came with, “You’ll be the greatest if you’ll just listen to what I say and disobey your commander.” But he didn’t yield to evil’s subtlety. He could not be moved.

Sir Roland was faithful. His faithfulness was in his active loyalty to his commander, to Right.

Our faithfulness is in our loyalty to the one God, to the law of Right. And if we stay active in obeying that one God, and glorifying His precepts, no giant will ever come across the bridge at us and destroy our fortress.

It’s a well-known fact that an active thought cannot be hypnotized. If you keep busy loving, and giving, and trusting God, you cannot be hypnotized by error and its ugly pictures.

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