Let me take a break from visions, hopes dreams, ideals and aspirations to take a reality check.
Sixteen years ago on this day, I knelt at a Mercy Seat in a little Salvation Army corps and my new life in Christ began. From the Christmas of 1994 until October 1995, my interaction with Salvationists at Irvine and at school changed my life. Big time.
In the week leading up to Sunday 17th October 1995, I had called up my corps officer, Major George Collonette, and told him that I thought I should be an officer. He did tell me I’d got it round the wrong way and that I should be a Christian first. Fair enough, I thought. He told me that Sunday was the time. I mean, looking back on it, it seemed strange. You don’t have to wait to be a Christian….but I’m not being critical here, because what happened the following Sunday is etched on my mind.
The evening meeting began and I was already sensing that ‘this was it’. I was so desperate. I had come to the end of myself. My life at the time was so empty and I was struggling inspite of the love and care these Salvos had already started to inject into my life. The Major preached on…..I don’t know what. All I knew was that when he gave the nod, that was the time to do the business.
I knelt at the Mercy Seat and I poured out my heart to the Lord. Billy, the CSM, was the ‘midwife’. I’m eternally grateful for his careful and supportive love at that time. He was clear and helpful. The ‘process’ was thorough. He helped me understand that Jesus could cleanse my sin and heal by brokenness.
When I got home that night, I felt such a sense of relief….God was doing something, but I was fearful of what it would mean in the context of my family where Christian stuff just didn’t happen….at all. There were going to be challenges in folllowing Jesus in my setting big time. I cried out to God again.
God responded. I remember laying on my bed and sensing something akin to electric current flowing up and down my body. I remember hearing amazing music, so musical, so perfect. This went on for hours. Even thinking of that time, I can hear echoes of the sound. God knew what he had to do in my life. Since that day I have never, ever, been in doubt that God is real and that his work in me was true. My life literally changed overnight.
Today, 16 years later, I led worship at a Methodist church where I preached on Ephesians chapter 2, outlining the spiritual transaction that must be made as we go from darkness into light. One of the testimonies I heard afterwards is that one of the women left ‘feeling like a new woman’ after the service. And so, the work of God continues.
I don’t want to glorify my sinful life as a youngster, nor do I want to dwell on my challenging past….but I do want to point out a few things:
1. Godly Salvationists invested in my life and planted the seed of the gospel.
2. Godly Salvationists were equipped and prepared to make disciples and knew how to do it, from the birth process all the way through to weaning me off milk and onto the meat.
3. You, too, can be the person that God uses not only to bring change to one life, but to start a chain of events which impact more and more people with the gospel.
The key to the Army being the Army is to never lose touch with the transformative power of the gospel when the Holy Spirit applies the blood of Jesus to a sinful heart and then fills it with perfect love. I’m thankful that I got saved in a place where they kept it real. That is true Salvationism. Lets get to it.