So, the blog has been a bit quiet. I’m having a time of working through a few things in relation to my calling and how it is working itself out.
This is about me and the Army as it is, and the Army I’m convinced I’m called to ‘call forth.’ I have been fearing that, actually, the Lord has lifted his hand from The Army as it is here in the UK Territory. This is really what is at the seat of my initial questioning which began last November. I travelled home from the Territorial Congress with such a heavy heart and a real heart-wrenching fear that The Army that God created no longer exists in the UK. I’ve began to doubt whether The Army can actually ever be again what it was called to be, but to doubt this goes against everything I feel God has been teaching me.
I have a vision of an Army that is true to its calling, to be a permanant mission to the lost. I’m an idealist because I believe God has an ideal for us that we are far falling short of and my voice has always been one of ‘calling forth,’ even in my days as a soldier at my home corps (which was popular with the officers!). For me, The Army is about rescue, its about ‘capturing’ people from the enemy, training them to fight and deploying them.
I believe the Army is a mission to the poor – these are our people and I don’t think we make sense out of the context we were dreamt for. I wasn’t brought up in the Army, I was brought up lost. I remember the pain and hopelessness of being lost. My conversion was miraculous and revolutionary and I was one of those that people used to say ‘oh, your experience will die down the longer you’re saved.’ To be honest it hasn’t, but that’s in spite of many folks attempts to quieten me down!
So, for me, officership was a way that I could spend every waking moment seeing this come to reality. I was called to be a missioner and I hope you don’t think its arrogant of me to say that I believe I’m called to model something different in the Army. I accept that I am “CALLED BY GOD to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as an officer of The Salvation Army. I BIND MYSELF TO HIM IN THIS SOLEMN COVENANT, to love and serve him supremely all my days, to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life, to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, and befriend those who have no friends, to maintain the doctrines and principles of The Salvation Army, and, by God’s grace to prove myself a worthy officer.” (The Officers Covenant).
In this officers covenant there are three parties. There is God, there is me and there is ‘The Army.’ For this covenant to work, the three have to be facilitating it. To be honest, I will never move an inch from this covenant…I’m solemnly bound. I either need to find a way to work it out in The Army, or I need to work it our elsewhere.
Tracy said to me the other day “you’re trying to do a Booth, aren’t you?” When I asked her what she meant she said that I was like William Booth protesting to the New Methodist Connexion because they insisted in keeping him in a pastoral circuit when actually his calling was to be something else. Its actually my fear that I’ll end up ‘doing a Booth.’ However, something was happening there. Booth was either being disobedient to God, or the New Methodist Connexion were. This is the gamble I find I’m in just now. I’m fundamentally committed to the Army but I’m more committed to God and to doing the kinda ministry that he’s called me to. I suppose God has confirmed to me in my heart is that there will always be a way for me to work out the covenant I’ve made to Him, either in or outside the Army, and for that I thank Him. At the same time, I’d love to fulfil my dream of being able to sit in my nursing home in my full uniform as a grumpy old major and complain the tea is too cold.
There are some changes afoot for us in some way, the implications of which we just don’t know at this time. We’re exploring how we can work things out in the context of our current appointment and trusting God to make the way.
Pray up a storm for us.