I was doing some research this past week for my historical novel about my great grandfather who served in the Civil War. I remember reading that the first Medal of Honor (MOH) was given during this conflict.
There are any number of web sites to get lost in having to do with the Civil War (or any war, for that matter). On this particular day I was deeply engrossed in reviewing the list of recipients for the Medal of Honor. Beside each name was a brief description of the battle action and the act of valor this individual performed. Though I was not specifically looking for it, I noticed there were a number of blacks who were awarded the MOH. Five to be exact. Some 180,000 blacks served in the Union Army.
What was most curious to me was the single act of bravery that seemed to warrant the Medal of Honor. It was either taking up the American flag from a fallen color bearer, or capturing the colors of the enemy forces. The man chosen to carry the colors had to be especially courageous. Charging into the fray meant he had to be out front using both hands to hoist the flag above the smoke, dust and din of the battlefield so the troops would know where to rally. It also meant he could not use a weapon, thus exposing himself as an easy target. Countless numbers of men fell under the barrage of enemy fire.
As a kid, we used to get together in the neighborhood and play “Capture the Flag.” This was actually a kid’s game that was similar to what was experienced on a battlefield. The whole idea was to keep the opposing team from capturing your flag, while you planned how you could capture their flag. It was great exercise, and for young boys needing to always burn up energy, it was made to order.
When a flag was captured, the victors would stand and cheer for their side, whooping it up, thumping their chests, standing tall. It was as if the fate of the whole human race was being decided on this one pitched battle. In actual combat, the fortunes of nations could well depend on who captured whose flag and was standing when it was all said and done.
I see in the Bible that the Apostle Paul instructs us in how to prepare for spiritual warfare. In Ephesians chapter six he writes that we are to “put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then.”
Notice how many times Paul instructs us to stand. Four times he admonishes us to take our stand with and for God.
Today there are some so opposed to any faith, but particularly the Christian faith, that such belief is held up to ridicule in the public eye by the media, television, and radio, not to mention various politicians and Hollywood types. At times in the arena of life, standing firm for the faith can leave you bruised and battered. But for the one who stands at the end, holding high the Lord’s colors, is the victor.
The best part is that in Christ we are already victorious. He has captured the devil’s flag! We win.
So cheer up! As the scripture says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Remember! In Christ, nothing can separate you from the love of God.
So hold your banner high for all to see. You won’t receive a Medal of Honor for living a life of faith. But you will receive a crown in glory where you have been storing up “treasure in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroy, nor thieves break in and steal.”
When Jesus is your Lord, you stand victorious!