Watchwords (or mottoes) are uniquely crafted phrases that express the spirit and purpose of a community of people or organization. They rally people’s hearts towards a mission, strengthen the spirit of camaraderie and call out the best in us especially in tough times. I recently came across 3 different watchwords (two in Latin and one in the Maori language) that challenged my heart and relationship with God in 2015. I am borrowing them to help me stay anchored in Him.
The first is “Semper fidelis”. This is the Latin motto of the United States Marine Corps. It means “always faithful”. As an elite fighting force, the Marines are well-known for their commitment to their Commander-in-chief and mission. We must resolve to always be faithful and loyal to our Commander-in-chief. The psalmist prayed in Psalm 119:36-37,
“Turn my heart toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word.”
We must guard our relationship with God jealously, so that we do not become unfaithful to Him. Beware of the pursuit of worthless things for selfish gain. They turn our hearts away from our Master.
The second is “Semper paratus”, the Latin motto of the United States Coast Guard. It means, “always ready”. The mindset of the US Coast Guard is very much imbued with this spirit of readiness as it keeps watch over vast coastal areas of the country. As Christians, we must be ever ready for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ by living out our faith confidently and unashamedly. The apostle John writes in 1 John 2:28, “And now, dear children, continue in Him so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming.”
Let us also be ready to do whatever is good (Titus 3:1) when it is in our power to act (Proverbs 3:27), so that we can be a blessing to those around us!
The third is “Kia Kaha”, a Maori phrase used by the people of New Zealand to mean, “stay strong”. Following the devastating earthquakes that hit the New Zealand city of Christchurch in 2010 and 2011, Kia Kaha became the iconic phrase used by family and friends to support those in need. In life, we will have our share of disappointments, crisis and pain. During such times, we can remain strong because the Lord Almighty is our God and He is with us (Zechariah 12:5 and Haggai 2:4). David writes in Psalm 18:32,
“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”
God’s abiding presence in our lives gives us the hope and strength we need to weather the challenges ahead.
As we celebrate our nation’s jubilee year of independence, and along with it the spiritual significance and implications for the church, let us embrace the above three borrowed watchwords to re-affirm our commitment and allegiance to our Commander-in-chief.
Lam Kok Hiang