Its natural, I suppose. Both at Christmas and in the run up to Easter especially, my mind has turned very much to The Army. I went to the Army on Commitment Sunday and it was very difficult. I’ve rejoiced in the election of a visionary Jesus-focussed General in the form of Linda Bond. I have a constant trickle of questions from all over the place: ‘are you coming back?’
I’ve been so thankful to the comrades who have continued to include us in their lives and ministry; to Major Antony Mugford from Newcastle City Temple who came and had coffee with me, to Major Christine Comely from the Pastoral Unit who came to visit us in our new home and to many others to whom we’ll always be ‘Captain.’ You have no idea how much these things mean.
Difficult to believe its a year ago since all the weird stuff that went on happened which lead to our leaving. Hardly a week goes by when I don’t think of it still. Seeking to receive and show grace to those involved in how we were dealt with and seeking to resist, at every moment, the cancer of bitterness. You know, if we’d have had a time of ‘grace’ given to us we’d have worked through the challenges
It won’t surprise any of you that my heart remains the same for the ministry of The Army. And by the same, I mean still passionate about The Army’s calling and the Army’s mission. And by the same, I also mean concerned about the clericalisation of officership and the burdening of officers with excessive administrative tasks. I am concerned that we still have no real grasp on the changing dynamics of sustaining ministry in urban areas etc etc You’ve heard it and I’ve said it many time before….and those who want to disagree with me will surely continue to. My views on leadership have changed little,
Yet, for me, last year was a ‘kairos’ moment. One of those moments in time where you have to make a choice. In reality, the choice for me was Jesus or the Institution of the Army and Jesus wins every time. Rather than the experience destroying me (like it does many officers who leave) God has given me a time of growth. For a season I’ve been able to lay aside all distraction and live focussed on Jesus. I’ve come to know him in deeper ways. I’ve seen him work many miracles in our life as provision upon provision upon provision has come to us and sustained our family. God has given me a fruitful ministry where he has used so many people to bless me much more than I could be a blessing to them.
But what about the answer to the question: ‘are you coming back?’ In my heart I’ll always be a Salvo. I’m currently following the Lord’s leading and it isn’t officership for the forseeable. Stephen Court tells me there is a commissioner on IHQ who was out for 11 years. Even our General Linda Bonda stepped out for a season.
But I’ll always be a Salvo. I’ll fly the flag. I’ll fight like a peacemaker.
In fact, I will
“love and serve him supremely all my days, live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life, care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable and befriend those who have no friends”
As for the rest of it, I had to leave it at the mercy seat.