Recently, on an early morning flight, I had ample time for my devotions. One of the Scripture readings was Psalm 105. The first eight verses came alive to me as a wonderful pattern for prayer. The first phrase sets the tone, ‘Give thanks to the Lord’. It is easy to commence our prayer time expressing our feelings at the moment and – depending on our circumstances – our opening period of prayer may be anything but uplifting. But if we follow through on the advice of the Psalmist, what a difference! Calling on the Lord’s name can take up a whole season of prayer as we contemplate the depth of meaning in the names of God. Our ‘down’ moods change as we sing to him, tell about him, glory in his name and rejoice as we look to him, seeking his face and finding strength.
We are called to ‘remember the wonders he has done’ (v 5). For many of us, this is not just recalling words or naming events. We actually revisit in our mind’s eye those places, occasions or events when his grace was evident. Sometimes, we isolate ‘vision’ as something that is supernatural and resides only in the future. Sharing the vision is not just about anticipation or expectation but also rejoicing in what has already been seen.
In April and May the Lord has shown himself again to me to be the wonder-full God. The European Zonal Conference, a corps meeting in Portugal, commissioning weekends in The Philippines and Myanmar, worship in Singapore, a congress in Germany – all have provided mental images that continue to feed my prayer life with praise. All are convincing proof, yet again, that though diverse, this oneness in mission and message is not a figment of the imagination. I see it everywhere I go. Let me describe one event to illustrate this.
The Salvation Army is growing in Myanmar (Burma). Our weekend meetings were held in a facility with only a roof. The 40˚C heat had to be endured. More than 700 Salvationists gathered for the ordination and commissioning of their seven cadets. The solemnity that is associated with the ordination is always supported by the visual. Never has it been more apparent or moving than in Myanmar. On the stage, at the front, was a most striking backdrop. The side curtains were the various colours of the national flag. The large centre curtain was red velvet flanked on each side by blue drapes. Before them was a large white cross, with red netting flowing from it.
The Proclaimers of the Resurrection processed slowly from the back of the building, holding open Bibles and moving towards the cross. In the background we heard the song, ‘All Heaven declares the glory of the risen Lord’. I cannot adequately describe this scene. It was so stirring that many of us – seasoned officers who have attended many commissioning events – were moved to tears. The combination of location (Myanmar), occasion (ordination), visual theology (backdrop), music and devotion (cadets) all came together to make this an unforgettable, wonder-full blessing. Then to see children, youth and adults kneeling at the cross all weekend in acts of commitment… well, it doesn’t get any better than this! The dedication of Salvationists to the mission and message was vividly communicated.
Thanksgiving and praise are not hollow concepts. They are responses to what God has done and is doing. AND if he has imprinted pictures on our minds of such grace occasions, then just IMAGINE what the future holds.
God, please help us to see.
With every blessing,