One of the greatest dramatic moments in American film takes place in the third act of Glory, when Private Silas Tripp (Denzel Washington) witnesses the regiment’s standard- the American flag- fall to the ground. As the soldier carrying the flag is shot dead on the battlefield, Silas takes up the standard once more and carries the banner forward, rallying the troops to continue their ill-fated charge against Fort Wagner.
As I think about my Grandpa today, I think of the first time I ever saw Glory. I was sitting next to Grandma and Grandpa in their easy chairs one night after church. I was probably 14 or 15 years old and it was showing on TNT as I recall. Every now and then a film would catch all of our attention together. Glory was one of those rare films, and the tragic yet heroic end of the film forces the viewer to question whether there is anything so full of glory in one’s own life that they would give their all to its cause. When Silas picks up the American flag, the viewer is mindful of Silas’ misgivings about the United States of America, of his cynicism towards white America, and of his suffering as a slave. But, as he lifts the standard, he has learned that the flag stands for more than the failures of a country and her people, it stands for a greater ideal than can ever be reached. As he carries the banner, he carries the symbol of liberty and justice for all men. Silas gives his life for the greater glory for which it stands!
I remember how patriotic Grandpa was, and I remember how faithful he was to the Lord. He loved the 4th of July and he loved to sing Onward Christian Soldiers. As I think of Glory, I think of Grandpa. I think of all that he loved and believed in. I think of what he stood for. I think of what he suffered, and what he endured. I think of what he lived for. I think of what he fought for. And then I hear it, “Who will lift the standard? Who will carry the banner?” Jerry Osborne carried the standard from 1945 to 1997. From the time of his conversion to his dying day he lifted the Gospel standard for all to see, and carried the banner of Christ forward for all to follow!
Grandpa did not serve Christ alone. His darling Wanda Lue helped him to keep the standard steady, and she helped raise the banner higher. Together they trudged through mud and darkness. Together they marched with the cross of Jesus going on before. Together they moved forward, sometimes with many, often with few. Together they taught their children to hold the standard firm; they showed their grandchildren how to keep the banner high. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God! One life ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last! All too suddenly, Grandpa was taken out of the fray, no longer there to grip the standard. And now, our beloved Lue has been called from her post, no longer here to keep the banner high. And I hear it again, “Who will lift the standard? Who will carry the banner?”
As I look at it I am well aware why it is often ignored, and even neglected. I understand why some who once raised the standard have put it down. As I behold the standard I behold its shame and scandal. This Gospel is foolishness to the world. As I behold the banner I behold the stains, the patchwork, and the strands. The holes are unsightly, and the colors are faded. The march is weary, and the battle tiresome. The fellow soldiers and laborers can be a bitter and drear company indeed. And certainly the cause is no longer popular, and the Kingdom for which it stands is laughed to scorn by most. Indeed, the standard lies on the field when her faithful guard has fallen in death; but the standard has stormed the gates of hell, and has never been defeated by the dark hosts of wickedness. The banner has fallen from time to time, its true; but only because there were none to carry it. Whenever it has been taken into the fire it has vanquished the enemy. But who will lift the standard? Who will carry the banner?
Some may look over the standard as it lies before them and count the costs. Some may study the banner, and weigh the possibilities. We might look at Jerry and Wanda and stagger at the depth of their love and commitment. They never once forsook the assembling of God’s people. They never failed in their worship. They never failed in their tithes. Their love for God’s Word never diminished. They never sinned by ceasing to pray for us. They never considered backing down, or giving in for they ever considered the great things the Lord had done for them. In their stewardship they were found faithful, for they were steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. They knew that their labor was not in vain, for it was in the Lord and for the Lord. So they hoisted the standard, and turned their back on the world! They carried the banner and followed after Christ who had loved them and gave Himself for them. We must hear their voices beckoning us, and we must stop to hear their lives preaching to us, exhorting us, “Lift the standard, for He will lift you; carry the banner, for He will carry you!”
In all painful honesty, what good is it to remember a loved one, if you hear nothing from them, take nothing from them, learn nothing from them? Why even call them beloved, why say they were dear, why smile at their memory if the most integral parts of their lives are shunned and ignored and neglected? To whom much is given, much is required. The greater light brings the greater judgment. Will we sit in view of Canaan’s vineyards, but never fight against the giants? Will we stare at Jericho over yonder, but never wet our feet in the overflowing Jordan? Will we hear nothing but the bad report of hypocrites and unbelievers? Will we continue to blame, continue in anger, or in bitterness? Or, will we join with those who have gone before, and rush to the holy ground where they have fallen? Yes, it is the holy ground of Calvary which bears their blood, and the blood of their Master. It is to Calvary we must likewise come to be converted, for if you are not born again you cannot even see the Kingdom of God, let alone bear up His glorious standard. Calvary is where the standard lies, and where the banner has been unfurled. Will we not seek the mantle that has fallen to us, and the double-portion that is ours? Jerry and Wanda would have it so, and no other way. Who will raise the standard of Christ and the banner of His Gospel once more?
As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
In : Meditations
Tags: jerry osborne wanda osborne christ calvary standard banner faith glory
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