A favorite childhood memory is the Kids’ Bible Club my parents held every Wednesday for the dozen or so elementary kids in the rural community where we attended a one-room, K-8 school. Mom taught us songs and Bible stories using flannelgraph, and we had a lively Scripture memorization program where I tried to keep ahead of my best friend, receiving a small prize for each group of verses successfully recited.
Our theme song was an adaptation for children (by Dad) of the hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” This song speaks of the expectations we might have as citizens of God’s kingdom while still in these alien lands. Like a soldier in war, we can’t expect “flowery beds of ease” but must be prepared to “bear the toil, endure the pain” before we reach our final glorious victory.
I need to keep reminding myself of this when facing my (trivial!) inconveniences or when thinking about what I might have to suffer for Christ’s sake someday. I am challenged and chided by the example of Allied soldiers in a World War II documentary I’ve been watching. These men faced incredible obstacles and impossible odds in their struggle to preserve freedom for me and many others, and they unselfishly gave their lives for that noble cause. And by God’s grace, freedom prevailed. How much more for the struggle I face today against both seen and unseen powers. If God is with us, who can stand against us? Am I committed enough to endure whatever it takes?
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 view the triumph from afar,
And seize it with their eye.
When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine. (by Isaac Watts)