The banner over us
By QuaWanna Bannarbie
Some of the most vivid memories in my life are connected to the military traditions and ceremonies that I have witnessed or had the honor of being a participant. I love any occasion for “showing the flag” when it comes to military pride and honor for those who serve(d).
Military parades are filled with good, old fashioned nostalgia. The military may not be a subject that excites happy feelings for everyone. In times of war, the military can rouse pain, controversy, protest and fear in the hearts of many. Yet, I have come to recognize that some of these vivid images of my military service have become fond snapshots in my mind, because they connect to more than just the military. God has a way of using some of these images as reminders of His word and promises to me. Interestingly enough, I think were it not for my military service, I may not have experienced God in so many of His attributes or known Him by His names.
Years ago, I was a young sojourner in the land of Yokosuka, Japan. I was a military officer on my first duty assignment. My soul became anchored in the Lord while kneeling many nights to pray on bamboo flooring. Far from home and still recovering from a heartbreak that was taking way too long to mend, I found a church. They called it Agape Outreach International Ministries. I looked forward to Wednesday night Bible study. In one of those studies, I learned the names of God. I never memorized them all, but there was one that stood out to me…Jehovah Nissi. Perhaps it was because of its similar sound to my nickname, “Nikki,” or because the story behind the name follows one of my favorites in the Exodus narrative. As Joshua fought all night against the Amalekites, Aaron and Hur supported the hands of Moses to keep them up. When he let down his hands, Amalek prevailed. While Moses’ hands were raised, Israel prevailed. When the battle was over, Moses dedicated an altar and named it “The Lord is My Banner” which has been translated, Jehovah-Nissi (reference Exodus 17:8-16).
This imagery of war stood out to me in scripture as evidence that we do not go into battle alone. In biblical times, those in battle lifted flags above their heads to indicate their readiness for battle and to signify on whose side they fought. I like watching colors and flags on a military guidon waving over the head of its flag bearer. The larger the flag, the more difficult it is for the flag bearer to manage, maneuver with and hold its position. It may seem like an easy task to hold a flag in a military parade; I assure you it is not. It’s an honor to carry the flag. I have never served on a military color guard. I can tell you what I experienced watching one. I cannot take my eyes off that banner freely swaying to and fro above the head of its presenter. That is the image I have of the declaration that Moses made after that historic battle in the Bible. That is the image that I cling to in my own personal battles.
Make no mistake, this pandemic is a battle for peace of mind every single day. I am sure I am not alone in wanting this battle and this pandemic to come to an end. I continue to ask, “How long Lord?” I have pushed back tears and fears many days. Recently, I was praying and the Lord reminded me that the banner over me is love (Song of Solomon 2:4). Again, God gave me an image to match His promise. I see a brilliant crimson cloth flowing over the head and between the raised hands of its carrier, and the words inscribed on it are Jehovah-Nissi.
Let us remember that the raised banner of God over us is a testimony of our faith and trust that God’s love covers us. When we say the banner over us is love, we are also saying that the banner over us is God. God is love. Raise your banner high.
QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Connect with her via firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.