My Summer Salvation Army Oasis
So, I’m a school bus driver. Many times I have felt like … “how the mighty have fallen.” I’ve gone from Ministry to school bus driver. Not much to feel proud about. That’s how, at times, I felt anyway until …
This summer has once again awakened within me the reality that God is still very much the God of miracles and that, in fact, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
The key being HIS PURPOSE.
If I had known that a good portion of my journey over the past several years had been to land me at the Salvation Army driving a school bus for their summer program, maybe I could have allowed myself to stop and smell the roses along the way.
But that’s not how I roll.
I have to get worked up, frustrated, and aggravated with myself, my family, the world and eventually poor God has to get the final manure dump load poured on Him. (Why does God even bother?)
Anyway … back to the Salvation Army.
My friend Mike, who now heads the local Salvation Army, had been a member of my church for 15 years. And … due to many unseen circumstances of life, it has been 17 years since we last saw each other. A lot of time has passed by between us.
This past school year, a friend of mine at the bus company told me she wouldn’t be driving for (I thought she had said) the YMCA and asked if I’d be interested in taking her place for the summer slot as bus driver. I told her yes and that I felt honored she even thought of asking me.
On the day she was taking me for a meet-and-greet, she asked if I knew where the Salvation Army was. I was taken back — for a couple of reasons. First, I thought it was the YMCA and secondly because not too long ago I became aware that Mike was in charge of the Salvation Army in the city.
I was so unbelievably excited to meet up with him finally. I was also a little apprehensive, nervous.
A couple of reasons. Well, three —
First: I’d entered into the Hebraic/Messianic world since we last saw each other. What would he think? Would he cast me upon the heap of Misfit Toys as a heretic like several others had?
Second: Had he changed, spiritually? He always had a deep love for God and I just couldn’t take the crushing disappointment of someone else diving into the abyss of worldly defection.
Third: He’s with the Salvation Army. All I knew was that they were a quasi-Christian organization that was pretty much peddling a Social Gospel. I had no desire to engage in the battlefield of ideology with this dear friend.
Besides, what did I really know personally (you know, first hand rather than by hearsay) about the Salvation Army? NOTHING. I had prejudged it based upon the prejudgement of others that were the self-appointed protectors and pointer-outers of what was Godly, right and therefore “approved.”
Well let me tell you … “I GOT MY MIND RIGHT, BOSS.“ (A quote from an old Paul Newman movie I first saw in my high school class entitled Films As Media.)
Let me give you my take succinctly: If Jesus feeding the 5,000 was the social Gospel, well then, the Salvation Army is wonderfully following the example of Jesus Christ a lot better than many of those self-righteous folks that wag their fingers and pat their selves on the back.
I’m telling you first hand … they proudly go where most Christians and Christian ministries are afraid and unwilling to go.
In what way?
Through acts of incredible obedience to their Saviour they actually live out the injunction to “go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23)
Said another way:
They not only “pray” for the prodigal sons of this world to turn to Christ for salvation, they actually go and meet them in their pig-pen of a life, feed them, clothe them, love them, and give the saving message of Jesus Christ to those that will listen.
They are making a difference, day-in-and-day-out, one life at a time. And they’ve been at it for over 150 years. Not a bad track record.
I wonder how many of our spit-n-shine Christian and Messianic ministries will be able to say that after this latest fade of the Modern Church crumbles and falls in on itself.
And it will.
If we’re heading toward the end times … and we are, I’m not sure the present generation of believers will be ready, and able, to fight against the overwhelmingly dark spiritual onslaught that will be unleashed.
When that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of us find ourselves knocking on the door of the Salvation Army for their help. Wouldn’t that be just like us … trash somebody until we need them?
Thankfully I now know where I’ll always be able to find open arms and a loving hug — without a predetermined list of approved things I must first do and become.
That’s what my friend Mike has done for me this summer. He has opened up not only his arms but his heart as well. And in doing so has become the “angel unawares” that I didn’t even know I needed.
Thankfully, however, God did. And behind the scenes, all along, He had been working all things together for good in both of our lives “for such a time as this.”
Unbelievable … it really is.
Thank you my Abba Father.