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Am I a Soldier of the Cross? by Dr. Michael A Milton, part 1
January 18, 2013
by Dr. Michael A. Milton
Chancellor and CEO
Reformed Theological Seminary
The Christian life is a life of undisturbed joy. The Christian life is a life of unending battles. Both of these statements are true. And that calls for help. For it is humanly impossible to hold two such polarized truths in our hearts at the same time. We need help.
It is easy to go from the mountaintop of spiritual experiences to the valley with thoughts of unending and uncontested glory. Yet that is not the expectations we should have at RTS, after such a glorious inauguration and times of worship and thanksgiving, not the expectations you should have in your church, and not the expectation you should have in your life. It is not the history of the Church. It is not the pattern of the life of Jesus. The early church bore witness to this fact that the resurrection ushered in a time of immense diabolical activity through the fallen minds and evil intentions of madmen and idolatrous powers.
David fought a fight through all of his life against the raging battles of sin in the world, the flesh and the devil. And he wrote Psalm 27 to encourage himself in the Lord in the midst of the Battle. It is a militant hymn. It has been called the “Soldier’s Prayer.” Today is it is God’s Word for you. It is your Psalm, your hymn, our prayer, and it is the inerrant and infallible Word of God. I am calling my message from Psalm 27, “Am I a Soldier of the Cross? Strengthening our Souls through Affirmation and Adversity.”
He sat in front of me weeping. He had been in the ministry for over thirty years. He was from another denomination. I was safe to approach to say what he had to say. “Mike, my entire life of ministry has been such a struggle. I am tired. I am exhausted. I dare say that I am clinically depressed. I don’t know where to go. I need direction.”
The confession of this fine minister, who had helped many in his career, is not unusual. Those who help most can be hurt the most. The story of faith is not unlike Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress. The story of faith is not unlike the life of our Lord, who went from John’s Baptism to being driven into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
I have been there. Perhaps you are there today. I have no illusions that I have escaped the cycle of mountain top experiences and valleys by now being inaugurated as chancellor of the seminary. In fact, I rather expect that the cycle of closeness to God and fiery darts will intensity.
For some of you, you live today on a mountain top. Your career is going better than you ever imagined. Your family is well. Your life is as stable as a cozy corner at Starbucks on a care free Saturday morning. Yet for others, seated next to you, the cozy corner is obliterated beneath the falling ceiling of debt, loss, and self doubt. For some of you the question, “Where is God in all of this?” is a constant specter haunting your faith.
God has given us a gift. David’s Psalm is a divine echo of the cry of hope shaped on the crucible of spiritual and real warfare that can be heard across the centuries down to our own day, and into this very moment. If you listen, you will hear the cadence of two great themes, a beat and a down beat, intensifying in the Psalm, like a troop marching up the hill, until at last there is a resolution.
I offer this Psalm to you as both reflection of your vexations and a renewal of your hope of victory in the battle. This Psalm alternates between Affirmation and Adversity. Just like the Christian life, we too, must ground ourselves in both realities until the final victory is won. There are three reverberating cadence calls in this Soldier’s Psalm.
Check in next week to read Milton's first cadence from Psalm 27...