Old Frank's Timeless Advice

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
— 1 Corinthians 16:1 ESV

If your present circumstances look grim, remember the cry of "Old Frank."

I met this resilient British officer in the pages of Bernard Cornwell's Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles. The old soldier, like the rest of the battle, came alive under Cornwell's magical prose. The Wall Street Journal said of Cornwell's work:

With historical accounts like this, who need novels for excitement.

Well said. This book is gripping. At one point Cornwell relays the words of one soldier as he describes a majestic and (for the British soldiers) horrific French Cavalry change.

You perceived at a distance what appeared to be an overwhelming, long moving line, which, ever advancing, glittered like a stormy wave of the sea when it catches the sunlight. On came the mounted host until they got near enough, whilst the very earth seemed to vibrate beneath their thundering tramp. One might suppose that nothing could have resisted the shock of this terrible moving mass. They were the famous cuirassiers (armed cavalry soldiers wearing breastplates) ... who had distinguished themselves on most of the battle-fields of Europe.

Lieutenant John Black, of the Royal Scots, said of the charging cavalry,

It was the grandest sight you could imagine, to see them coming at full gallop all in shining armour and shouting 'Vive l'Empereur' (long live the Emperor) with all their souls and our men shouting as loud as they could bawl. 244

As wave after wave of some 9,000 French cavalry attacked the allied British troops, one regiment in the fray, The 14th Foot from Bedforshire, were not seasoned soldiers. With a fearsome wall of charging horses and furious French soldier bearing down to reign destruction, dismemberment, and death, their commanding officer readied them for the charge.

The officer was Lieutenant Colonel Tidy, 'Old Frank' to his men. Put yourself in the uniforms of those young soldiers and listen to your commander:

'Now, my young tinkers, stand firm! While you remain in your present position, old Harry himself (the devil) can't touch you, but if one of you give way, he will have every mother's son of you, as sure as you are born!'

"Stand firm!"

That is God's command for every believer as well. From Moses, to Joshua, to Judah to the early church, to you -- wherever you are today.

And why? Because we too are soldiers in a battle facing Old Harry and his host.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
— Ephesians 6:13 ESV
  • Are you discouraged? Stand firm!
  • Are you doubting? Stand firm!
  • Are you strong and vibrant? Stand firm!
  • Are you fearful of charging hooves you hear in the distance? Stand firm!

Cornwell follows Old Frank's advice with some of his own:

And that was the key. To stand firm, because as long as the square kept its cohesion then the French cavalry was impotent.

Cornwell's words are for us; they might as well be coming from God himself.

Each soldier in the battle had to stand his or her ground, but it was their collective pose that enabled them to withstand the ferocious charge of the French cuirassiers.

The same is true for you and for me. We stand individually, but it is our collective strength -- as a people of God, in the power of God -- that enables us to withstand in the difficult day.

So take your stand today against the doubt, the discouragement, the trouble, the temptation, and the challenges you face. God will help you! But this is not your battle alone so gather with the people of God this weekend. United we are even better able to take our stand against the enemy.


  • For more on Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles stop by onmywalk.com. You will find my book review and podcasts.
  • You perceived at a distance ... from Waterloo, 237.