Onward Christian soldiers is a hymn which has stirred many a soul and it is no surprise because in scripture, there are often parallels drawn between war and the Christian experience, and that is understandable, what we are engaged in is spiritual warfare, we take orders from our commander, suffer losses, win victories and only by the grace of God persistently soldier on. This was certainly the experience of the apostle Paul…
Amidst the constant storm of oppositions, the clamor of enemies, and the desertion of friends the intrepid apostle [Paul] almost lost heart. but he looked back to calvary and with new ardor pressed on to spread the knowledge of the Crucified. He was but treading the blood-stained path that Christ had trodden before him. He sought no discharge from the warfare till he should lay off his armor at the feet of his Redeemer. [AA, 297]
I think that is a great snapshot of Paul’s frame of mind and not only that, but how we should view our lives… There are times when it would be all too easy to let go of the faith but there are the times when we must return to our first love, to quote another hymn, we must the “Turn our eyes upon Jesus” look back to calvary and gain strength from that sorrow-filled day when our Savior placed victory in our hands.
Once we do reach back to our maker and in our mind’s eye, see him again conquer the darkness, we will be empowered to continue along the “Blood-stained path”. The journey will be difficult, but as long as we are walking in the footsteps of the Master, we know that His mighty angels attend our way, our destiny is sure, and one day we will (like Paul), lay off our armor at the feet of our Redeemer and return to the battlefield no more.