A list complete
By Leah Fowler, Lt. –
I come from a family of storytellers, and many of my earliest memories are of lying down at bedtime waiting for my dad to tell me a tale or read a favorite book. Two characters we loved were Frog and Toad. Two unsuspecting friends who went on adventures, and tackled life together. One such tale of the friends is titled “A List.” Toad wakes up one morning and says to himself, “I have many things to do,” so he proceeds to write a list of things to do today. The first task is “wake up,” which he promptly crosses off, pleased with his accomplishments thus far. He completes the list for his day, and sets about making it all happen. All is well, until, when visiting Frog, a gust of wind picks up the list and sets it sailing into the horizon. Frog makes chase, but a despondent Toad exclaims that he cannot run after his list, and when questioned by Frog, wails, “Because…running after my list is not one of the things that I wrote on my list of things to do!”
Lists. We, the Joyful Intercessors, have seen many a list these past two years at the College for Officer Training. Our names, faces, classes, homework, assignments, house duties, the list of lists can go on. We have checked off each of the elements needed to get to this stage. Now “become a lieutenant” is crossed off, and just more one box needs checking before we are unleashed on the mighty Western Territory. We have been well prepared through our training, and we thank each of those officers, soldiers, friends, and family members who have interceded on our behalf, to help us stand as we are today. However, it is those things that weren’t on our lists that have impacted many of us the most, and we have learned that God’s will is greater than any list we may create, and there is immense joy in trusting in his sovereignty.
My own life began with a list. It was printed in the Young Soldier publication when I was 4 years old. It was an interview conducted when my parents were stationed overseas in New Zealand, and I was asked: What do you want to be when you grow up? I gave a short but ambitious list—a teacher, a Salvation Army officer, and a mum. My life took many twists and turns, and I tried to thwart God’s plans at times, but these are the promises he fulfilled in my life. After high school, I completed my bachelor’s and master’s in Education, and taught elementary school boys for five years. Six weeks and five days ago, I became mum to my beautiful daughter, Zoe. This morning, fulfilling a calling 25 years in the making, I became a Salvation Army officer.
My dear session mates who sit behind me truly encompass what it means to be a Joyful Intercessor, and it means far more than a “happy pray-er.” Our session song sums up the truth of our two years in training. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Coming from Nehemiah 8:10, it has truly become a part of our individual and collective identities. Within our session family, we have experienced loss, illness, and overwhelming hardship in our journey through cadetship. We have laughed together, cried together, prayed together, celebrated, and weathered life’s storms together, and bared one another’s burdens when we could not stand alone. It was in these moments we learned that, truly, the joy of the Lord is our strength, the joy of our salvation. Our session verse is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. It’s a list of what we have been called to do.
As intercessors, we are called to stand in the gap, and by God’s strength, direct others to see his love and his goodness, and to know his exceedingly abundant joy in their own lives. For two years we have practiced this together, and now we are ready to take it to our new homes.
For many of us, we will arrive at our first appointments in just a few weeks and quickly feel like Toad, watching our list of “what to do at your first appointment” flying in the winds of challenges and change that are sure to arrive. Let us not be so focused on our lists that we miss God’s greater plans. Thankfully, we are not sent out to do his work alone. Like Toad, we need our Frog, our encouragers, our mentors, or friends, family, new and old. We will need intercessors—people of faith willing to pray and guide us along this new journey. This we ask of you. We are excited for what God is and will do throughout this territory, and we are wholly trusting in him for our strength.
Our classes are done. Our trim is on. Now, for the final step. Let’s get to this next “list” we’ve all been waiting for.