After reading too many e-mails on a small flickering screen, I sensed a change in my vision and realized that I was due for an eye exam. Visiting an optometrist is not a painful experience, but I dread the rapid switching of the lenses and the continued questioning of, Is that better or is this better? I want to get it right because the end result determines whether I will have clear vision for the next two years.
A number of months ago I wrote an article entitled Focusing the Vision. I acknowledge that the concern I carry for our territory will not be met by some as a new or clever approach, but I believe it should receive a response as we seek God’s heart for this Army raised up by him, purpose driven by him and, at the end of the day, blessed by him.
The longer I serve as territorial commander, the more aware I become of how much influence I have on the shape, direction and identity of God’s Army in the Canada and Bermuda Territory. There, I have said it; it’s not my Army. When it comes to a vision for the Army, my dependence on God and his mission prompts me to peer through his lens and ask the question, Is that better or is this better? The need to get this right has eternal implications.
If the Army was to position itself for an outpouring of Holy Spirit power, it would likely be linked with its people being fully devoted to God’s work in every community where we serve. I am convinced that when we walk and work in his way, he will not withhold his blessing.
During the public welcome meeting at the International Conference of Leaders (see reports here), General Linda Bond shared her unfolding vision for The Salvation Army. The One Army, One Message, One Mission vision has become a rallying cry that has encircled the globe. On that occasion, those present experienced her passion for “One Army on fire, One Mission of love and One Message of grace.”
I want to describe our Army as reflecting the fire of the Holy Spirit, compelled by God’s love, extended and offered by grace to a needy world. I echo General Albert Orsborn’s song:
All my work is for the Master
He is all my heart’s desire
O that he may count me faithful
In the day that tries by fire.
I recently enrolled several senior soldiers during a visit to a corps. As I met with them, I encountered a couple new to the Army. They both had professional backgrounds. When I asked what had brought them to the Army, they replied, “We needed someone to talk to and we turned into the church parking lot. We found a listening ear, we came back on Sunday and we stayed. We were captured by a personal call to be involved in mission and the Army was perfect for us. Now we can see beyond ourselves to the needs of others. What God has given us, we now offer to others.”
As the optometrist switched the lens, things became clearer. I could have stopped him at any time but together we kept pressing forward to achieve the clearest possible vision. I testify that I have surrendered my personal preferences as I pursue God’s best for this Army. I am encouraged as I see God’s Army at work, hear the personal stories and celebrate the good news reports.
Every 20 seconds, someone walks through the door of a Salvation Army ministry unit. There is no doubt in my mind that the “fields are white to harvest” (see John 4:35). People often ask me what I see in the Army’s future. My response is this: I see an Army, mobilized, sharing the central message of salvation to the whole world through the living testimonies of discipled men, women and young people.
“For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)
Commissioner Brian Peddle is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory. Click here to read his columns.