Onward, Forward

When Mr. Whitney mounted the platform and slid onto the piano bench at Rose Hill Church of the Nazarene, the congregation knew what was coming next. He would sweep his knuckles across the keyboard and launch a rousing rendition of “The Fight is On!” The refrain to this Gospel song by Leila N. Morris is as follows:

“The fight is on, O Christian soldier,
And face to face in stern array,
With armor gleaming, and colors streaming,
The right and wrong engage today!
The fight is on, but be not weary;
Be strong, and in His might hold fast;
If God be for us, His banner o’er us,
We’ll sing the victor’s song at last!”

But it is the chorus to another Gospel song in a similar militaristic vein that has been swirling through my head here at the New Year. This refrain from “Sound the Battle Cry” has become my mantra for 2014:

“Rouse, then, soldiers, rally round the banner,
Ready, steady, pass the word along;
Onward, forward (emphasis mine), shout aloud, ‘Hosanna!’
Christ is Captain of the mighty throng.” (William F. Sherman)

Each time I ask “What next, Lord?” his answer is simply this: “Onward, forward. I have the path planned, and I will guide you step by step.”

Recently I saw a bumper sticker that read “Boldly going nowhere!” At first I chuckled but had to admit that I often feel exactly that way. It is then the Lord gently reminds me that because he is in me and I in him, and because I am seeking to know and do his will, he will guide, he will accomplish, he will bring the shouts of “Hosanna!” to my lips. Every day is an adventure of trust, of being satisfied not to know what is coming next but to welcome whatever it is in full assurance that “all things work together for good….” (Romans 8:28). But it is the rest of that verse that brings the most encouragement: “All things work together for good to them who are the called according to his purposes.”

Happy New Year! The Fight is On! The Lord be praised!

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