As I lift my level of sight to just above my computer screen, there hangs a menacing list of 11 questions that I am sure that some of you at least are familiar with. They are taken from Orders and Regulations for Soldiers 1950 and are a test for self-examination.
Above the questions, there is a picture of an officer in uniform facedown in prayer. The questions and the picture speaks to me, asks deep things of me, challenges me to move further into what he has called me to be for him.
Why do I tell you this? I suppose its because as you find yourself in a new corps, you sometimes feel as if you are being redefined. Much of who you are in a previous setting become irrelevant, and God requires something new of you. I’ve been reminded again and again that what I have to bring is nothing…I have nothing to bring, I’m empty handed…all that I have is from Him who saved me and set me free.
Then you have to separate what is a molding from the Lord and what is a molding from the setting you are in. There is a strong ‘presbyterian’ flavour to the church as a whole in this part of Scotland…(ie minister and congregation) and those of you who know me at all will know how passionately opposite to this I am. If we are to be effective in the Salvation War in this generation, we must press forward in mobilising the whole people of God, not just those whom God has called and commissioned for leadership in one way or another.
A simple way we’ve tried to begin to address this is to look at the area of spiritual gifts, the calling of the soldier, embracing the soldiers covenant and recognising it as God’s golden key to mobilising a people and saving a nation. We’ve preached passionately the call to prayer, the need for revival, the plight of the poor and the lost and in the 8 Sunday evening Salvation meetings, we’ve preached the gospel pure and simple so that none can be in doubt about what God’s message is.
Here, in the land where everyone calls you Captain, it is easy to be a Salvation Army officer in the sense that you don’t ever feel the need to ‘explain’ yourself, because I represent a corps that has a strong 123 year history in this town. But it is difficult to be an officer in this town because there are so many opportunities presented to me for the gospel in the average day I often don’t know what to do with them. I know that is a problem many officers would like to have, but its harder than you think!
It comes back to the list on the wall on front of me. My holiness, my witness, my character, my relationship with the Lord needs to be as such that I will hear clearly what He is saying so that it will be the Potter that shapes the clay, not the clay or the wheel on which it spins!