Recently I took a few moments out of the usual routine and went camping. Within the midst of the swirling, constant barrage of busyness, I found a moment to escape; to listen; to ponder; to contemplate. I chose to stop thinking about the expectations of Salvation Army life (and there’s many), and I stopped and listened.
I heard, what you may call, a whisper; or an impression. I felt a still, small voice; what many Christian Today readers would recognise as the Holy Spirit. I heard it as I looked out into the distance, among the bushes with the stillness of a pristine lake in front of me.
And this is what I heard…
I heard the sound of an army rising.
I think it’s the army of God.
And it's being birthed through prayer. Prayer that shakes the enemy's kingdom and reignites the fire of old. Prayer that acknowledges the battle and calls on God for breakthrough.
I see how God is sweeping out the cobwebs in our lives through this prayer. He's dealing with the pain and hurt and grief:
The pain we have because the sickness is still present.
The hurt we have because the relationship hasn’t healed.
The grief we experience because that one we love parted too soon.
It’s the struggle to pay the bills and put three square meals on the table every day.
God is sweeping out the cobwebs and breathing hope within us once more.
An army on fire
God is raising up an army on fire for the Lord. And this reigniting of the fire in our hearts is happening through genuine, heartfelt repentance towards God, where Christ makes all things new in our heart and soul.
What a sound. The sound of an army rising.
What God is doing is causing a realignment in who we are and what we seek to do in the world. We are being challenged; where we’ve celebrated religion over relationship or form over function.
It's an army rising, full of bold, audacious faith with "Jesus is Lord" tattooed across our foreheads for all to see. Just like in the days of old, when the Israelites would place “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength” over the doorframes of their houses, so too are we keeping God at the forefront of our lives.
We lay it all down
As we lay down our golden crowns of man-made accolades before the Almighty, we choose to embrace the love of Jesus afresh and be filled again and again with the precious presence of the Holy Spirit. This journey is not about you or me. It’s not about how much we achieve. It’s not about how many awards we get or even if our Mother or Father affirm us or not. What matters is that the love of Jesus is permeating our hearts and minds.
This army is rising, and we lay down our own ambitions:
Our feeble attempts to articulate mission statements on posters.
Our misguided efforts to try and be the Messiah.
Our “get in there and fix it ourselves” mentality.
The love of Jesus is gripping our hearts. We lay down our own lives!
Sweeping out the temple
The last couple of nights as I went camping by myself (you should've seen me trying to put a tent up without my wife). One thing I had to do when I was packing up was to sweep out the tent from all the murky, sticky sand. It made me ponder Nehemiah 13:9 where the house of God needed to be purified (cleansed, made holy) and even Scripture in Revelation that speaks of buying gold refined in the fire (Revelation chapter 3, verse 18).
God is still doing that today in our lives, through Jesus Christ; he’s taking all our impurities and making us more like Christ. God is sweeping out the temple of our lives, so to speak. It might be painful for some, because it means we’re being challenged to give up addictions and habits that have become so deeply ingrained into how we behave.
But God is raising up an army. It’s rising. It’s an army that knows how to pray. It’s an army that has the fire of God’s spirit within it. It’s an army that lays it all down for its God. It’s an army that has swept out all the junk and now lives solely for Jesus Christ.
There’s the sound of an army rising. And I think it will change the world… for the better.
Pete Brookshaw is the Senior Minister of The Salvation Army Craigieburn. He has a Bachelor of both Business and Theology and is passionate about the church being dynamic and effective in the world and creating communities of faith that are outward-focused, innovative, passionate about the lost and committed to societal change. He has been blogging since 2006 at http://www.petebrookshaw.com about leadership and faith and you can find him on:
Peter Brookshaw’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/peter-brookshaw.html