It was unusual for foot soldiers to play a major role in the Middle Ages. Harold II of England’s 7000 infantrymen were an exception. He marched them from London to York, about 216 miles, in a week. The rate of the march was 30 miles per day for an entire week! “A sustained rate of thirty miles per day for seven days was in most circumstances unheard of. A sustained twenty miles per day would have been considered extraordinary.” The army moved faster than news of its approach. This helped turn the Battle of Stamford Bride in 1066, known as “Harold’s Lightning March” (Hackett, Jeremiah. World Eras, Vol. 4: Medieval Europe, 814-1350, p. 128). What seems lost to history is how Harold motivated such rapid movement. To build such resolve and determination in so many people, in unified purpose, must speak to Harold’s leadership ability.
All of us are marching with rapid pace toward the end of life and eternity. Hasn’t it been going by so quickly? It truly is a “lightning march.” At the end of the march, will we have won the battle? The church of every generation, and not just individuals, are making this march. What impression are we leaving on the world around us, what battles of significance will have been won? Think of the first-century church. They “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). They “preached to every creature under heaven” (Col. 1:23). They permeated their immediate communities, surrounding communities, and the remotest communities (cf. Acts 1:8-11). Think of those brave, sacrificial Christians during the 19th Century who rallied together around the principle of restoring New Testament Christianity. With a great reverence for the pattern of Scripture, they sought to imitate the faith and practice of that first-century church. In their wake was growth and influence.
In both cases, profound as their influence was, they rapidly left the scenes of time. Their influence remained, but succeeding generations of the Lord’s Army—for whatever reasons—slowed their pace considerably. We may glorify the church of the 1950s, at one time known as the fastest growing religious group in our country. But most of them have gone and those who remain have grown slower in their pace. What about the church of the early 21st Century? How will we be remembered? Never forget that, in part, this is influenced by what you and I are doing as soldiers under the Lord’s direction. We could not want for better guidance and a better Commander. We should have ample motivation. It is high time we pick up the pace! Victory awaits (1 Cor. 15:54-58).