“Left, left, left right left.” I remember my marching instructor calling out to us as we practiced drill formations. “About face, halt, parade rest.”
We were members of the Metropolitan SDA Pathfinders. It was a church group of boys and girls across elementary and middle school grades who came together weekly to practice parade marching and earn badges in such skills as archery, cake decorating, nature, and more; we even spent time with Resuscitation Annie. And I will never forget the whole ‘Do Wah Diddy’ routine we practiced; our rendition of the routine done by the character John (Bill Murray) in Stripes. Of course, we weren’t as bold enough to do this in front of the parade stand, although looking back it would have been hilarious! The memories are vivid in my mind: sweating through the hot summer days, wearing an army brown button up shirt and skirt, practicing in dress shoes that always left my feet with new blisters. Campfires, army tents, making new friends, and eating “veggie” anything you could imagine. A small band of Christian soldiers.
“Left, left, left right left.”
When I think about 2021, I envision marching. It takes a certain amount of practice to march in unison and to reflexively react to the various commands called out by the instructor in a timely fashion. It takes focus to remember to never look back, no matter what you hear behind you; for it is truly difficult to march if you are looking backwards, trust me, I’ve tried it! And it also takes dedication, committing yourself to participate regardless of your muscle aches, thirst, sore feet or ‘scheduling conflicts’.
Twenty-twenty was scary, 2020 was frustrating and 2020 saw us giving up many freedoms that we once enjoyed. “We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.” (2 Corinthians 4:8, The Message). So, we march on by faith, listening for our Drill Instructor to call out the next move. Allowing Him to guide our paths and dreams, and rule over our fears and doubts. “…Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace.” (2 Cor. 4:16b).
Sometimes we need to take an about face. Is God calling you into another direction this year? Is He calling you to turn to something better? Or is He is calling you into a rest? Are you being drawn into a time of meditating on His word and waiting on His instruction? Praying over your daily schedule and giving it to God is the most important thing you can do each morning, or whatever the time is that you wake up. My schedule is such that sometimes I don’t wake up until noon because I didn’t get home from work until 4 am. I guard those first precious minutes that I have upon waking to commune with God. We are called to train ourselves in godliness (1 Timothy 4:7) for we are at war, yet the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Spiritual disciplines train us; just like an athlete needs to train to run a marathon, we need to train our minds in faith and know that by the grace of God we will cross the finish line to heaven. These are scary times we are living in; some would say even apocalyptic. Yet I know that God is sovereign, He is bigger, and He is able—over all the mess that the human race can create.
Marching into 2021, God is calling us all to a better life with Him. There will always be trouble in this world and God promises that He will dwell with those who dwell in Him (John 14:23). March by faith, march in truth, march with God my friends.
“Left, left, left right left.”