July 1, 1863. Day 1. I actually think this is my favorite day of the 3-day Battle of Gettysburg. And it's all because of Union General John Buford.
His role that day was featured in Ted Turner's movie Gettysburg. Sam Elliott seemed the perfect actor to play that role -- soft-spoken, contemplative, all business.
Unlike George Custer or Jeb Stuart, John Buford never sought the limelight. At Gettysburg, he commanded two brigades of Union cavalry whose textbook delaying action protected the high ground behind the town that would soon become the world-famous Cemetery Ridge.
That sultry July day, Buford was so wracked with arthritis that his staff had to help him into the saddle. Before the end of that year, he would be dead, killed not by a bullet but by something just as deadly, typhoid fever. Yet on that summer day of July 1, this humble Kentuckian fought off an enemy that outnumbered him until John Reynolds and the First Army Corps could arrive on the scene. Such was his bravery that his men followed him into battle without reservation, willingly risking their lives for the cause they believed in, simply because their leader said, "Go."
Today, the work of Christ is unfinished. Yes, his work for us is finished, but his work through us is an unfinished business. We are to proclaim his finished work as we go about performing the unfinished work of the Great Commission. So when we hear the trumpet call of our Leader, we get going. We are willing even to risk our lives if necessary because of what we believe in, simply because he said, "Go."
We learn it slowly but learn it we must: the only thing in life that matters is that we please our Commander-in-Chief. As long as his work is unfinished, ours is unfinished too.