In explaining the International Vision, I have often alluded to the fact that this vision did not come to me in a dream, or in a supernatural visitation. It came as a result of an officer asking what I saw if mission priorities were actioned. I answered that I saw what I have always seen, an army on the move. Capturing that imagery is of course not rocket science. Not one of us thinks of any army as fulfilling its mission by staying in the barracks or marching in precision on the parade square. Whether it is a peacekeeping assignment or fighting force or emergency deployment, strategy and action are identifiable marks.
Since writing to you last December, I have seen our Army on the move in the territories of India Western, India Central, Japan and Sri Lanka as well as our new work in Nepal. In the farewell of Commissioners Barry and Sue Swanson (Chief of the Staff and World President of Women’s Ministries) and the welcoming of their successors, Commissioners André and Silvia Cox, along with the moves of so many leaders around the world, the Army was literally also on the move. Hopefully you have caught up with all of these visits and special occasions through our International News Releases (www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/news).
Do you ever wonder what the Lord sees when he watches us? He surely has his eyes wide open to the great things that are happening through the dedicated, compassionate action of Salvationists. He sees the crowds of people in India as they meet together for worship, and their spontaneous and reverent kneeling at the mercy seat. He sees the faithful Salvationists in Japan, who meet the needs of suffering humanity in their numerous social centres. I even think he smiles when he sees three elephants in an Army march in Sri Lanka, bearing on their foreheads the One Army, One Mission, One Message logo. But even more significantly, he smiles when he sees this vision actioned in Salvationist’s wonderful work among orphaned children and youth. He was watching the officer couple and their two daughters on the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal, as they courageously carried the Army flag and their tambourines to celebrate an Easter sunrise service. And when we meet to honour leaders who are prepared to move around the world and take on challenging assignments for his sake, he is there, watching, listening.
The Lord not only sees what is happening but he also sees the path ahead, the way we should take as his Army. A very special Scripture verse for many of us is ‘I will instruct you. I will teach you the way that you should go. I will advise you as my eyes watch over you’ (Psalm 32:8 GOD’S WORD ® Translation). Yes, we can strategise, envision and even move forward, but in truth, not one of us knows the future, knows what lies ahead. All the imagining in the world cannot guarantee effectiveness in mission or fruitfulness in service. But the One who sees, knows. It may sound like a slick slogan or even a paradox, but an Army on the march must be an Army on its knees. The vision can only be actualised as we have his guidance and commit to it.
It is true for The Salvation Army but it is also true for you, for me. Personal plans or dreams or the best of intentions still belong to an uncertain future. Though it is uncertain to us, it is not to him. The One who sees your life, my life, today is the One who delights to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
Moving forward, therefore, need not be a matter of thoughtless action or hesitancy. Let’s claim his promise: ‘I will advise you as my eyes watch over you.’