Left, Right, Left. Marching is a matter of keeping in step with those around you. Listening to the commands and performing them when the command of execution is delivered is key. Marching has a good deal to teach us about life, too.
Welcome to “Mornings with Bishop Robert” — thanks for joining me, you’re the reason I’m here. So grab a coffee and a seat, and let’s spend a few minutes together. My goal is to introduce people to the Jesus they never knew, and help them get to know Him and His word personally – and better ! If our time together today speaks to your heart, then let me invite you to like, subscribe and share it with a friend!
You may have noticed that there’s been a bit of a pattern in the messages over the last few days. It began with words that are as SWEET AS HONEY, gracious words of compassion where God is speaking tenderly to us. Then I got my text from Jesus, that was a real attention grabber for me; but it turned the focus towards considering evidence for believing that He exists. Believing led us to searching for Him – “for REAL” – remember? Which brought us to explore yesterday’s promise that He’d never abandon us. Today we’ll consider our “marching orders” and look at how to get in step with God.
Marching orders – there’s a term that has carried over into our lives from the military. Of course, apart from a military organization, nobody actually marches. It’s just a phrase that represents getting a set of instructions to carry out. Marching is actually quite a bit of fun, and when you get it right it can give you a sense of real accomplishment.
The first command is always “Attention,” which causes the unit to stop all other activity, stand erect and focus on the person giving the orders. Marching orders are delivered with a preparatory command, and then a command of execution. The first command lets you know the second one is coming.
One morning while I was in the Marine Corps, our battalion had assembled in formation on the parade grounds next to our barracks for an address by the Battalion Commander. As we were waiting, I observed the honor guard entering the parade deck with “the colors,” the flag of the United States. I also observed that the officer who SHOULD be calling us to attention was dealing with another issue and could not see the colors approaching. Since I was a sergeant, I had the responsibility to take charge and act accordingly. After quickly running to the appropriate position, I turned to face the battalion and began to issue orders.
“Battalion” – the command of preparation that let everyone know to whom I was giving the order. “Attention” – Of course, all three syllables of that word get delivered separately, and the last one sounds like “HUT” not “shun” when it’s delivered. With the delivery of the final syllable of the command a thousand Marines snapped to attention and prepared to receive their next order. “Present … Arms!” The battalion moved in perfect unison and rendered our salute to the colors. (Did you catch the command of preparation, and followed by the command of execution there?)
Today’s verse says TURN TO GOD, SO THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE WIPED OUT.
Specific orders accomplish specific results. “Right Face” is a command to pivot 90 degrees to your right. Not to march, to take a seat, or to go get a snack. There’s only one way to properly obey that command. When someone in the platoon makes a mistake (usually by turning to the left instead of the right) their error is obvious, and often a bit comical. That’s when the drill instructor will say something like, “Your OTHER right !!” “About Face” is the command to turn 180 degrees and face the rear. “To the rear – March” is an order to march in the exact opposite direction.
Orders are concise. You learn the meaning in drill so that you can execute quickly while on the march. Nobody marching a platoon will shout out “Hey, fellas, when we get to the corner up ahead, we’re all gonna turn to the left as we get to the end of the street, OK!” What he will do is wait until the front of the platoon is approaching the intersection and then issue the preparatory command “COLUMN LEFT,” which will be followed by the command of execution “MARCH.” And each successive element will commence their turn at that precise spot.
There’s a simple word that means “turn around and start going in the opposite direction.” It’s the word “repent.” It’s not a negative or nasty word, it simply means to change your direction by 180 degrees. Of course the bible contains lots of instructions that provide specific detail in a longer form. For example, the bible tells a thief who has been stealing that he must steal no longer; but must work, doing good with his own hands, that he may have something to share with the one in need. But the one word command for that thief would be – repent. To carry the military analogy further, if someone had “a mouth like a sailor” the bible would tell them to let no unwholesome talk come out of their mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen. But the same word – repent – applies to them. Stop doing what is wrong, start doing what is right.
God has marching orders for us if we want to get in step with Him. He’s on the move, advancing the message of His Kingdom. We are invited to follow Him and be part of bringing His message of love and forgiveness to a world that needs hope. Of course, it starts with us making sure we’re going in the right direction. And for some of us, that means we need to repent; to turn a 180 and get ourselves heading where we ought to be heading.
TURN TO GOD, SO THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE WIPED OUT
To the rear – MARCH !