Fix Bayonets: Learning to Advance by Pastor Devin Blankenbiller
One of the turning points in the history of our nation came at the Battle of Little Round Top during the civil war on July 2nd 1863 in Gettysburg PA. The union army was losing the battle, they were outnumbered, surrounded and out of ammunition. The men of the 20th Maine Infantry came to Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain looking for directions for retreat.
Instead Chamberlain shocked them all. When they asked, “what should we do?”, his response was “Fix Bayonets”. Bayonets were the short swords that were attached to the muzzle loaded rifles they used at that time for hand-to-hand combat. “Fix Bayonets” was a war cry to charge instead of retreat.
The outcome? The Union men raced down the Little Round Top Hill shocking the Confederate troops, who while trying to retreat were overtaken by the Union. Many historians point to this single act of bravery as the turning point of the Civil War.
2020 has become a year of fear, frustration, and feelings of defeat. The normal answer at this time is to pull back and retreat, but I believe spiritually we need to “Fix Bayonets”. Now is not a time of retreat, but a time of advancement. We may feel “outnumbered, surrounded, or out of ammunition” when we see our nation’s seemingly hopeless state. But if we know God gives us his Spirit without measure (John 3:34) we are called to advance! What does advancing look like? Let me offer three suggestions on how to “advance”.
Advance in Love
Two of the overshadowing issues in our society has been with COVID19 and with racial injustice and tension. Both issues have brought division as we are all tempted to feel the need to share “how we really see it”. Can I encourage all of us to advance in love? Love everyone around you, love as you listen, love as you seek to understand. Love as you walk in patience with the situations you disagree with. Love those who are irritable or who have no patience. Love those who are lonely, love those who have struggled. LOVE! Remember “love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) Advance in love.
Advance in Prayer
The level of variable emotions and anxiety has increased in every one of us at some point over the last 6 months. Trying to plan anything more than one week in advance always includes a disclaimer for COVID19. But we have an invitation, an open door to seek the unchanging, never failing God of creation in prayer multiple times a day. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” When discouragement, fear, confusion, and anxiety rush in, call to the Lord! “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Use this time to advance in prayer.
Advance in Your Purpose
How is God going to change this community, this nation, this world? By using people of faith who are filled with the Spirit of God and who are part of the body of Christ. His purpose in our life is that we would use all the gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, Ephesians 4:11) that he has given to us to share his truth and hope and bring healing to this land. You have a purpose! We may have been told or heard to, “just sit back and wait to do anything due to the virus.” I believe God is giving us the calling to advance forward in his purpose. So many people are hurting around us, God doesn’t want us to give them hope that comes from finances, or a political candidate or worldly wisdom. God wants us to share the hope and peace that comes through Jesus Christ! If your faith is in Christ, then God wants to use you!
Advance in His purpose.