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.