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Oct2FriBeginning “The Work” as Salvation Army cadets. October 2, 2020 By Cadet Natalie Williams
(Above) Cdts Natalie and Brian Williams with their children, Malcolm, Joshua and Cormick
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The first time I attended Bible college, we wrestled with the already/not yet tension in Scripture, particularly as it applies to the fulfilment of messianic prophecies. On the one hand, the kingdom of God is already here, inaugurated by the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. We have a Messiah who is real and present in our lives. But the kingdom is not yet fully here, and brokenness persists. This is the tension we all live in as followers of Jesus.
It’s a useful paradigm as I attempt to make sense of my own brokenness and the largeness of God’s grace, while also working out what a changed life, empowered by the Holy Spirit, looks like. And it helps as I contemplate our new home for the next 22 months.
We have arrived at The Salvation Army’s College for Officer Training in Winnipeg. We were sent off with the blessing of our spiritual family at Cascade Community Church in Abbotsford, B.C., not to mention countless officers who have affirmed our calling to what is reverently referred to as “The Work.”
We drove across three provinces with another young family from British Columbia, who now live directly above us in the condos that serve as dormitories, and the kids have become fast friends. We are more than halfway unpacked. Our ’67 Econoline van is parked behind a barn an hour outside of the city, and we have been assigned a minivan. We officially hold the rank of “cadet.”
We have arrived. Everything is real and present. All the things we had been looking forward to with such great anticipation are beginning to materialize. But the next season of work is just beginning.
We’re sorting out what classes we’ll be taking and how they will frame our field experience. We’re still assigning dressers for the kids’ clothes, and I’m still trying to find my coffee grinder lid in the remaining boxes. We’re making dinner schedules and figuring out what Sabbath looks like in this season. We’re making space on the bookshelves and dropping uniforms off at the tailor. I’m breaking in new shoes, trying to think of a way to keep track of my ever-changing email password, and I keep forgetting to order a keyboard for the pink iPad I intend to use for classes.
That’s life, isn’t it? We arrive at the next thing, only to realize that we are still arriving. We are still a work in progress. I assumed the rank of “cadet” upon my arrival here, but it’s such an “already/not yet” title. The work that God is going to do in our family through our experience here is only beginning. Being a cadet is about learning and growing and becoming. It’s about diving into an experience designed to bring you face-to-face with what God is asking you to become.
Good thing I’ve had lots of practice making peace with that tension.
So, we will continue to work out our faith with fear and trembling, with confidence in the vast, unending grace we know we must lean on in the moments when we are overwhelmed, and all five members of our family have dissolved into tears and screams of frustration. We will lean on that grace when we are exhausted beyond belief, but the house isn’t unpacked yet and we feel like it should be. We will depend on that grace that covers all our sins as we muddle through the first month, no doubt finding that we come up against things that make us question whether or not we are up to the task of being “Cadet Natalie” and “Cadet Brian.”
But we will also hold tightly to what God has spoken over us, what his Spirit has declared through his people and in our own hearts: that he has called us to this ministry, that this identity is ours. We will stumble forward without shame into the already/not yet kingdom. We will declare it with our Sabbath, with our voices, with our studies, with our writings, with our service. We will walk forward, confident in the power that we have been given for this task: a power that is so much greater than our own.
Grace and power. What has already been accomplished, and what we must fight for. Already, not yet.
You can follow Cadet Natalie’s journey at unfortunatelyjacob.wordpress.com.
Cadet Natalie Williams is a member of the Messengers of Reconciliation Session.