We love to take pictures of courthouses as we travel. It is understandable since I spent 30 years in the practice of law and was in many courthouses throughout the Southeast United States.
On a visit to Vicksburg, Mississippi, we saw the old Warren County Courthouse and decided to look around. As we were leaving the courthouse, we saw a plaque in honor of the soldiers from Vicksburg and Warren County, Mississippi, who fought in World War II. The poem at the top of the granite block is entitled SOLDIERS and it reads:
We were that which others did not want to be, we went where others feared to go, and did what others failed to do. We were … AMERICAN SOLDIERS.
The word “soldier” brings up many different emotions, memories, experiences to people, but I suspect that for the vast majority of people, the word “soldier” encompasses the concept of one who is willing to deny themselves for the benefit of others. That is certainly what is within the words on the Warren County monument to Company B of the 106th Engineer (Combat) Battalion, 31st Infantry (Dixie) Division of the Mississippi National Guard in the 1940s.
The Apostle Paul was certainly well acquainted with the role that soldiers had in the Roman world. He, after all, was imprisoned on more than one occasion, and each time there were soldiers who guarded him who undoubtedly heard Paul’s witness for Christ.
“And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.”
Therefore, it is not surprising that Paul used the analogy of being a soldier when referring to serving Christ Jesus in our walk through this life. Specifically, in 2 Timothy, Paul told the young preacher:
“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
2 Timothy 2:3-4
Being a soldier for Jesus reminds me of a song that I sang as a young child. It was sung to the tune of The Old Gray Mare and the words went like this:
I may never march in the infantry; Ride in the cavalry; .Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy; But I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes Sir! [with a child’s salute]
The concept of being a soldier is especially strong in my heart today as, this past weekend, one of our congregation’s covenant children and a recent high school graduate left our town and flew to the other side of the world so she could work with a mission organization in Asia.
She will be in a culture totally foreign to her, away from her family, for a year. She is, in the truest sense of the term, a soldier for Jesus Christ in a foreign land.
I pray that the Lord will bless her work and will bring many to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of her witness. I pray that the Lord will give her peace and comfort as she is away from home for such a long time, and I pray that she will be supported through the prayers of the congregation that she left in our town. [As a parent, I pray too that the Lord will give grace, comfort and peace to her family who will miss her presence daily.]
But, the fact that she left to do her work in the Lord’s army does not mean that there is no such work for me, or for you, to do. We are all called to be soldiers for Jesus, no matter if it is in a foreign land or across the street. To paraphrase the Vicksburg granite monument,
We are called to love those who others would not, we will go where others fear to go, and we will give witness even when others fail to do so. We are … SOLDIERS OF THE KING.
Listen to my husband’s favorite hymn as presented by 101 Strings on the album Amazing Grace Songs of Faith and Inspiration, “Onward Christian Soldiers”.
Father, I praise You for giving us the gift of Jesus Christ as our Savior, Redeemer and King. I pray that I would be a soldier in your army who operates in accordance with your orders, and that I would be fruitful in my witness as I do your work in my world.