I have had several opportunities to visit Arlington National Cemetery to witness the changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. What never ceases to amaze me is the precision of their movements. Every step, every turn is synchronized to the second. Crowds gather well in advance in order to get a view. But once the ceremony concludes and the crowds disperse, the soldier is there to stand guard in silence and no interaction with another person for 30 minutes, which is when another guard comes to relieve him or her.
What is even more impressive than the precision of their movements is their dedication to the post. The Tomb has not been left unguarded since 1937. Through scorching heat and oppressive humidity, blizzards and hurricanes, these guards stand firm in their watch – 24/7/365. There isn’t anything that will take them away from this honor-filled assignment.
As I read through Luke 21, I was struck by the use of the word “stand” in verses 19, 28, and 36. Jesus is explaining to his disciples what to expect as they wait for his triumphant return. Persecution, betrayal, natural disasters, and wars will be the signs that will foretell of Christ’s return. And 3 different times, Jesus instructs his followers to stand firm through it all.
In verse 19, we’re promised that if we stand firm, we will gain life.
In verse 28, we’re promised that by standing up, we will receive redemption.
In verse 36, we’re promised that if we are attentive during the watch, we’ll be able to escape all the turmoil and stand before the Son of Man.
As followers of Jesus, we are not promised an easy life. We will experience figurative (and sometime literal – depending on where you live) heavy storms that wipe away all that you know. The question and challenge is – will you stand firm through it all knowing that the foundation on which you plant your feet is our Rock, Jesus Christ.