Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stay the Course

About a week ago, The Patriot was on TV. For you ladies, that's the movie with Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger. If you're a guy, that's the bloody 2000 film about revenge, the Revolutionary War, and the role of the colonial militia's guerrilla tactics.

Anyway, since I had seen it before, my mind was wandering a bit after a series of tragedies in the movie, one of which was the final blow for the main character (Benjamin Martin). He lost his son. His friend, Colonel Burwell, came to talk to him about how much he was needed to fight the next battle, but Martin was engulfed in grief.

Col. Harry Burwell: I'll help you bury him. [referring to Martin's recently killed son]

Benjamin Martin: I'll bury him.

Col. Harry Burwell: My wife in Alexandria is with child, my first. I fight for that child... Benjamin, nothing will replace your sons, but if you come with us, you can justify their sacrifice.

Benjamin Martin: Why?... Why do men feel they can justify death? Is it arrogance or... [voice trails off] I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me... and the cost is more than I can bear.

Col. Harry Burwell: Benjamin, we have a chance. Greene and Dan Morgan are down from Virginia. If we win this next battle, victory in the war is within our grasp.

Benjamin Martin: Go then, seek your victory. I'm a small issue to it.

Col. Harry Burwell: You're wrong Benjamin; you matter to your men, and to others as well. Your victories and... and your losses, are shared by more than you know. Stay with us. Stay the course!

Benjamin Martin: I have run my course.

When Burwell spoke those words in bold, I was almost startled at the force they took on for my situation. Pulled back into the movie by that dialogue alone, I watched closely to see how Martin would respond. I too felt beaten by a long battle that was fraught with loss and discouragement. I too felt pushed to the sidelines, isolated, unable to do anything of much value because of my illness and circumstances that keep me tied to the bed and couch.

But when I saw Martin unfurl the American flag his late son had patched with his own hands and ride up alongside the cheering militia - with tears, I realized the significance of rising above the pain God allows in our lives. Those who know us see the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. The victory is already his, and he shares it with us. We have reason to hold our heads high and ride proudly into each spiritual battle, knowing that our victories and losses matter to more than we know - especially to our Commander, Jesus Christ.

If you are feeling beaten physically, devastated emotionally, or crushed by doubt and despair spiritually, do not forget this image of victory. It's the power of our sins and losses redeemed as we ride under the banner of the Kingdom of the Son who died for us. This is what will carry believers into triumph.

The Patriot: "Stay the Course"

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 

Hebrews 12:1-3

1 comment:

Groves said...

Amen. I so hear you. I am "in the boat" of long & intense illness, too. Your words mattered this morning.

Until we rejoice in Heaven, onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war,

Cathy in Missouri