I’m on the Battlefield

I’m on the Battlefield

I was alone and idle I was a sinner too,
I heard a voice from heaven saying there is work to do;
I took my Master’s hand and I joined that heavenly band
Now I’m on the battlefield for my Lord.

Now I’m on the battlefield for my Lord,
Yes I’m on the battlefield for my Lord;
I promised Him that I would serve Him till I die
Now I’m on the battlefield for my Lord.

I lost my flag in battle my staff is in my hand,
I’m taking it to Jesus over in the glory land;
In distant land I trod crying sinner come to God,
Now I’m on the battlefield for my Lord.

I’m fighting for my Savior the battle is most won,
The trumpet will be sounding the coming of the Son;
I’ll lay my armor down take up my robe and crown,
Then I’ll walk the golden streets with my Lord

Number 268 in the Red-back hymnal, “I’m on the battlefield” was arranged by Otis McCoy in the 1950’s.  Otis McCoy was part of a quarter from the “Cleveland Bible School Quartet” of the Bible Training School here in Cleveland, Tennessee (the predecessor institution for Lee College/Lee University).  I wish I knew more about Mr. McCoy and his background, but I couldn’t find much online.  I do know that two of his most well-known songs are about being on the battlefield – this great song and “Keep on the firing line” – Number 212.

One could think by reading these two songs that Mr. McCoy had an “unhealthy” focus on battles and fighting.  But this could also be said of the Apostle Paul.  Ephesians 6 – “Put on the whole armor of God – helmet, shield, sword, breastplate” and “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 2 Timothy 4 – “I have fought the good fight.”  2 Timothy 2 “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”  Finally, Paul refers to his Christians brothers in Phillipians and Philemon as fellow “soldiers.”  Mr. McCoy did not have an unhealthy focus on physical warfare, but a proper focus on spiritual battle and spiritual warfare.  As Christians, we are in a heavenly conflict.  A battle.  We are living in a war zone, and songs like this help to remind me of that.

“I was alone and idle” – Although I have never served in the military, my family is full of folks that have been in the Army.  My grandfather, my dad, uncles, cousins, and my nephew, who, praise the Lord, just returned safely from Afghanistan.  There is one thing they have told me about the military.  There is not a lot of idle time.  There is always work to do.  Something to clean.  Something to take apart and put back together.  A bed to make, a floor to mop, and clothes to iron.  Idleness is not tolerated.  The Christian life should be no different.  The book of Proverbs talks about what happens to someone lazy and idle.  Jesus preached about idle words.  The Apostle Paul warned against idleness and idle babblings.  If the un-Christian life is marked by idleness, the Christian life should definitely be marked by hard work, diligence and laboring for the Lord.

“In distant land I trod crying sinner come to God” – Like many soldiers who are called to go “overseas,” the Christian is also called to take the gospel around the world.  Jesus said “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  We must take the gospel to a lost and dying world – to the end of the earth.  This can be with our hands and feet, and it also can be with our resources.  Some soldiers are here to defend the home front, but others are called to go on a foreign battlefield.  To fight on the front lines.  To go to a distant land and cry “Oh sinner, come to God!!”

“Lay my armor down, take up my robe and crown” – Normally, when one leaves military service, they are allowed to take their uniforms with them.  Their camouflage gear.  Their army green pants.  Their “dress blues” or “dress whites.”  The soldier takes the uniform home as a reminder of his service to his country, and will even occasionally put the uniform back on.  But one day, all Christians will turn in their uniforms that have been bloodied in battle.  They will exchange this earthly uniform for a heavenly garment.  But not a heavenly garment that we have paid for, but white robes paid for by Christ. He is the one that will clothe us.  Revelation 7:9-10 says “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

So let me ask you today, do you have your marching orders?  Are you in the battle or on the sidelines?  Do you have your “sword of the spirit – which is the Word” ready to use in battle?  Today’s hymn is not a song about a future event.  It is not a song about past battles fought and won.  It is a song about the here and now.  “I’m on the battlefield” today.  Are you a soldier of the Cross today?  Engaged in battle and prayer today?  Are you on the offensive today?  If so, thank you for your service.  If not, can I encourage you to get on the battlefield….there is so much work to do.

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