Sep1FriRetrospective #1 September 1, 2017 Randy C. Hicks
Their faces stare down at me as I pass along the hallways of 26 Howden Road. Depending on where I am of course, many of these folk are now long gone, promoted to glory!
They’ve become part of what the writer to the Hebrews calls the “great cloud of witnesses!” Eugene Peterson calls them the “veterans cheering us on!” The more recent photos depict many others who are still with us, that is to say - still living. And of course, none of these collections reveal only those who remained officers but I also see the many that, for various reasons, “left the work.”
“Left the work,” now there’s an interesting statement. In this context it’s used to politely refer to people who gave up their commissions as officers/pastors in the Salvation Army. No doubt it is also used for those who have left other professions they set out to pursue but later abandoned. I think it interesting too that we tend to associate negative emotions with words like left, abandoned, gave up, and quit. Jesus words about ploughing and looking/turning back come to mind. Not ready, unfit and again we see these as negatives but that’s not necessarily so. A hammer is unfit to saw wood. A screwdriver is not ready to drive nails. This does not render them useless as of course there are other tasks for them to do.
I remember a senior officer once saying that they had never doubted their calling; had never thought of looking back. I can’t say that. I must confess that times when my faith has been weak I’ve sneaked a peek over my shoulder, a look in the rear-view mirror. You might even call me “Salty!” (Give it a moment…you’ll get it!) For those no longer with us there are cases of crises and unfortunate circumstances; some folk merely switched ploughs or fields; some folk discovered later in the game that they were not “cut out for” or “suited to” this particular task but rather better prepared for another job in the Kingdom. I admire such people for at least testing themselves and recognizing the need to change directions.
I’m not sure I will ever be completely comfortable being watched by all of these characters but as my eyes meet theirs, those I know or have known that is - for some I’m happy, for some maybe a little sad, and for some the mystery remains.
Nevertheless, for all I am grateful!