Sunday, January 3, 2010

Soldiers





Am I a soldier of the cross,



A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?


Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;


Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
Thy saints in all this glorious war


Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith’s discerning eye.
When that illustrious day shall rise,


And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine.





This is a hard post for me to write. I'm not sure if I'll get it exactly right, but here it goes. 


During church a while back, I sat down near the front (I like to be able to see Chris when he's leading worship) and a young (super) cute couple came and sat in front of me. She was pregnant. Pretty far along. I can only guess she was near the point I was with Owen when he died. They just looked so happy. Blissful is a better word. 
I remember being that way...


The last song we sang was Am I a Soldier of the Cross? Before the song started, we all stood up and I caught a glimpse of her huge tummy and felt the familiar pang of grief. It was so overwhelming. I was fighting back the feelings of bitterness, anger, jealousy, sadness- the familiar questions of why me, why Owen? I almost had to leave, but just couldn't. Chris started to sing and the words washed over me. The second verse shocked me back to the present and I thought about how this applied to me, to the life I've been given. 
I wondered, does God mean this for me too... Am I a soldier of the cross? 


Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?


I want to get this right, without offending or misleading, so bear with me as I stumble my way through. 
I've said before that I don't like putting God in a box- I don't at all think that God wrote out Owen's life and death to teach us a lesson. I don't believe that God caused Owen's death to get my attention or 'pull the rug' out from under us (yes, I've heard this one before). 
Owen's life and death are part of a greater story than we can believe or see, but I think that if we can get a glimpse of this beautiful story, then we'd see a God who can redeem all things. A God who loves us enough that he would enter into our suffering and broken world to suffer with us. 


The first few times I heard this song, I couldn't help but think of missionaries living in hostile countries fighting for Christ and soldiers on a battlefield fighting for freedom. When I heard it again a few months ago, a different image came to my mind: 
A bruised and bloodied woman, her arms raised high above her, and her eyes cast heavenward.  
A mother with empty arms and pain lining her face. 
A mother separated from her children, crying out to God in her sorrow. 
She is a solider too. 




We may not look like the others around us and our lives may seem very foreign to them. We may not be very pretty, packaged in shiny wrappings with bows tied neatly around us. There may not be easy answers or answers at all to our suffering. 
We are soldiers, bruised and bloodied from the battle, striving toward Heaven with all that we are because of Jesus. We are fighting for a greater cause and we will conquer though we die. 




For days after I heard this song I kept thinking, what a privilege! What an honor to be called a soldier of the cross and what a disgrace that I should ask to be carried through the skies on flowery beds of ease while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas. 


Please don't misunderstand, I am NOT at all happy that Owen died. I don't think God is either. He hates death. He hates this brokenness. That is why he is coming back...He is redeeming all things and he will make all things right. 


Seeing myself as a soldier of the cross has really changed the way I view the suffering in my life. Do I like it? Nope. I hate it. 
But what a privilege it is to be called a soldier of the cross. How beautiful it is to stand, bruised and bloodied, crying out to God in our suffering and brokenness. I can think of nothing else that we could do that is more God glorifying than to take our sorrow and pain and hurt, our questions and anger to his feet and lay it all down (yes, over and over again for the rest of our lives) and then stand and point to the God who loves us despite the pain and suffering in our lives. 


I think this makes us all soldiers. 

11 comments:

The Blue Sparrow said...

Thank you for sharing this and thank you for your last comment on my blog. I love hearing from other moms who have angels waiting in heaven and their stories. I am so sorry for your losses and I agree, we may understand each other but no one will ever fully walk our paths and understand completly except of coarse Jesus. Its nice to meet you but I am sorry that it had to be this way. *HUGS*

Rachel said...

Ebe-
This is especially meaningful after watching a war movie the other night about a real person who suffered immensely during the Vietnam War as a prisoner of war who escaped his captures only to wander in the jungle for a long time before being rescued. He was not a believer, but if I apply what you're saying to my own pain in this life, but think of it in the physical sense of that soldier's suffering, it really gives it a different kind of meaning, a meaning far beyond my personal struggles and pain. How great it is to be a soldier for Christ and how great it will be when all things will be made right. (I've always loved the title of your blog!)
Blessings!

Sara said...

Yes Ebe, thank you for encouraging me today, I needed it:)
Praying for you!
Sara

Tiffany said...

Great post, Ebe! Your words could not be more clearer, and just what I needed to hear (see).

Rebecca said...

I am so glad & privileged that we are in the trenches together.

*sniff*

Tonya said...

Beautifully written. I often ask "Why me?" "Why Grady?". But then the answer comes to me. "Why NOT you?" "Why NOT Grady?" Hard to swallow. This is one of my favorite posts you've ever written.

Love,
Tonya

Ebe said...

I love you all so so very much.

Miranda said...

Oh Ebe, this is so beautiful and well written. After losing Caleb I wanted to know how God "chose" His soldiers. Why did He choose me? I hadn't signed up! Your post really puts that in perspective. Very well put! I am so happy for you and Chris and can't wait to meet Little Hannah Mae. I hope to see you soon!

Love,
Miranda

Laurie said...

Thank you Ebe. We are fellow soldiers...and we survived the fight and will continue to.

Blessings to you and all of your babies who are in the arms of our Lord.

dorothe said...

Hello, this is me again. I'm so glad P was there for you when you needed her. Maybe you remember, she is my best friend and neighbor and helped me better understand after the birth of Owen. She loves you and I love you too and you couldn't find a better friend or compassionate soul then her. I hope she will be there when Hannah Mae (what a beautiful name by the way) enters this world. Love, Dorothe

joaneanna said...

Precious Elizabeth, this one REALLY ministered to me, and I will be passing it along to some others who (like most of us) would PREFER a "flowery bed of ease". At our last ladies fellowship we decided to feature a hymn each month as we end our meeting. This will definitely be the next one. Thank you for risking honesty and openness. You are making a difference in the lives of many. I love you! ~Joan~