TOP

Be my vision

A commencement address to the Disciples of the Cross  

By Arwyn Rodriguera, Cadet – 

Arwyn Rodriguera, Cadet

Arwyn Rodriguera, Cadet

Almost 75 years ago my husband’s grandparents, on both sides of his family, were commissioned as Salvation Army officers, in the far corners of the South Pacific in The Philippines. At their commissioning, an officer charged the new group of lieutenants by saying something to the extent of: “You may be persecuted for your faith; you may even be imprisoned for your faith, but you must remain strong!”

A short time later they were able to put that charge into action when they were captured and placed in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp during World War II. His grandparents held firmly to the Lord while imprisoned because they had had embraced the vision God had for them and the people around them. Years later I am reminded of God’s grace as I stand here as a representation of the his favor on their lives.

We may never be imprisoned for our faith. But, who knows? I can think of which of my session mates may be imprisoned first. I do believe all of us could end up in a Prisoner of War Camp. The camp we face is not comprised of cinder blocks and barbed wired. I believe the camp we are faced with in modern western society looks like “death of vision.” The challenge I have for myself and the beloved Disciple of the Cross in the spirit of the officer 75 years ago in the Philippines is to remain strong when you are tempted to adulterate God’s vision for his ministry for “what we can do on our own power.” Habakkuk 2:3 says:  “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (ESV).

Developing an eye and a sensitive heart for the Lord’s vision requires lifelong learning and teachability. Academics play a pivotal role in recognizing that vision. The intended purpose of The College for Officer Training is to create an incubator for emerging leaders. The hope is that once the fledgling leaders emerge they are equipped to combat things that can lead to death of vision, such as insecurity and fear. Insecurity and fear are battles all of us will face at one time or another in our officership. Often all we see is the negative aspect of insecurity. We think of the tension an insecure person can cause. We think of our own insecurities and how they make us feel like a failure. This may cause us to sin by comparing ourselves to another.

Character built by the Holy Spirit in us best combats fear and insecurity. Halted character development can lead to isolation, the desire to build a kingdom that builds our ego rather than God’s salvation, and it leads to envy that can cause disunity. All of this can lead to the prison camp of “death of vision.” When faced with issues that might challenge our character such as fear and insecurity, the question needs to become, “Am I going to allow God to make me teachable and journey with me in areas I am weak?” Does part of my sacramental living include allowing God to use the parts of me I do not like? When I look at the disciple,s there are 57 stories of God building character through the vehicle of academics in order to build his vision for the Kingdom.

Character allows us to live out the vision God has for his Kingdom. Character traits such as holiness, steadfastness, perseverance and integrity are foundational for lifelong teachability. I do not know about you, but I would rather follow a person of integrity who was uncertain yet malleable over someone who was competent, confident and hard. We cannot be a generation of officers that settle for being “placeholders.” We cannot wait around for validation we feel entitled to in order to grow. We are indebted to the staff of the College for Officer Training, who have with great passion and heart worked towards teaching us the vision God has for his church and how to execute that vision. We could say all the words of gratitude we want and they would be meaningless unless we honor their efforts and God by going into the field and applying what has been imparted. We need to remain teachable, use our intellect for God’s glory, seek inspiration, use our imaginations and be innovative. We need to be people who seek the vision of God where we are at and allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn out of us. The Archbishop Oscar Romero once used the phrase in a prayer: “We are prophets of a Kingdom not our own.”

Almost 75 years later my husband’s grandma, Brigadier Marti Abella, who survived the prison camp in World War II is here today. She is an example of an officer who lives out the vision of God and knows that she is a prophet of a Kingdom not our own.

Are we ready to carry out the vision of the Lord in our time? “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Be Thou My Vision is an old Irish hymn. It is my prayer for the newly degreed disciples.

The first verse reads:

“Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.”

The song then seeks the vision of the Lord in several areas of life such as wisdom, victory and dignity. In the last line it is as if the writer is saying, “even after all this, all the provision you have given me, even then, still be my vision O ruler of all.”

When faced with a prison camp may we all be able to say, still be my vision, oh, ruler of all.

Sharing is caring!