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Private battles

by Amanda Reardon, Captain – 

by Captain Amanda ReardonThere is a section in our Salvation Army Songbook known as “The Salvation Soldier.” We don’t sing these songs every Sunday, but most likely, anyone who has been to a congress or a commissioning has sung a few of them. I would guess that it is common to feel quite stirred by the lyrics of the songs. Consider some of these inspiring words:

“Hark! I hear the warriors shouting;
Now the hosts of Hell we’re routing;
Courage! Onward! Never doubting
We shall win the day.”
(#693, verse 3, George Scott Railton)

“Strong to meet the foe,
Marching on we go,
While our cause we know
Must prevail.
Shield and banner bright,
Gleaming in the light,
Battling for the right,
We ne’er can fail.”
(#698, verse 2, William Fiske Sherwin)

When I sing these words at the conclusion of a rousing meeting, I know that through the power of Christ I can defeat the forces of evil. I leave the meeting almost hoping that some demonic force dares to cross my path so that I, fully clad in the armor of God, have the opportunity to slay him!

I don’t know what it is, exactly, that I’m envisioning. Casting demons from possessed souls? Gathering armfuls of orphans from the dangerous streets? Eradicating pornography from the city in which I live? Any and all of these things would be gratifying. More important, they would bring glory to God in a rather fantastic way.

In my years as a Christian, there have been days when I have felt engaged in dramatic battle. But then there are the days where the battles are small and private. When I sing the songs above, I never think of the lyrics applying to the ordinary stuff. Yet some of the fiercest battles I have ever fought have been against discouragement, loneliness, disappointment, distraction, pride. These are the warriors Satan unleashes regularly. These hideous foes sneak up on us, infiltrating behind our line of defense. We are eager to battle the great evils of the world, but unprepared for the seemingly smaller menaces that destroy the troops.

It may be helpful to see the songs here quoted in the context of the private battles of life. Words such as “Courage! Onward! Never doubting we shall win the day!” do indeed beckon us into the fray as we fight poverty, injustice, debauchery, etc. But they also serve as a quieter battle cry as we encounter temptation. For example, “Battling for the right” could just as well apply to a daily struggle to control one’s temper as it applies to spearheading a campaign against sexual trafficking. A Christian who feels that pest known as guilt climbing onto her back could claim the words of Wesley: “From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray.” She must recognize guilt for what it is—the Devil’s attempt to threaten her confidence in her salvation. She must wrestle that beast to the ground.

I believe every Christian should be engaged in the big battles. These battles don’t always come to us. There is evil in the world that may not affect us personally, but we must decide to attack it. At other times, evil arrives at our doorstep, and we must be ready to hold our ground. But let us engage just as ferociously in smaller scale battles. Even on ordinary days, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6: 10, 11)

Like the songs above, the New Testament is full of references to war, battle, armor, and victory. Perhaps if we reminded ourselves every morning that we are soldiers, engaged in warfare, we would be less likely to let inappropriate attitudes, feelings, and habits overtake us. We would be ready to fight against them.

The best thing about this war is that, as long as we follow our General, Christ, it is impossible to lose. In the words of Frances Ridley Havergal:
Fierce may be the conflict,
Strong may be the foe
But the King’s own army
None can overthrow.
Round his standard ranging,
Victory is secure,
For this truth unchanging
Makes the triumph sure. (#707, verse 4)

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