From the desk of…”Finishing”

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Dave Hudson, Colonel

I attended Major Charleen Bradley’s retirement ceremony a couple of months ago. It was a good time of friends and family sharing stories. There were several humorous moments, which anyone who knows Charleen would expect. However, when thoughts turned to Jim, there was some sadness, and wondering “what if.” The most moving part of the service to me was, as it usually is, the presentation of the retirement certificate, which gives, down to the day, the length of the officer’s service; for Charleen it came to 34 years 3 months and 11 days. While simply a certificate, it represents so much more. It says Charleen has remained faithful in the promises made at her commissioning until retirement.

I thank God for Charleen. While she has always been positive, life has not always gone her way. I think back about 20 years when I met Jim and Charleen. They were successful in any imagination of the word—two great sons, effective ministry, and a future as bright as any.  However, along the way, as I call it, life happened. Jim was diagnosed with a serious illness and subsequently passed away. Life immediately changed for Charleen. Over the succeeding years, in spite of hardships, she has remained faithful to her call, her family and her covenant.

Recently, while at the College for Officer Training, the second-year cadets responded with rousing applause when I asked if they were excited about this coming June, when they will be commissioned and walk across the stage to receive their first appointment. On that day, there will be cheers and jubilation throughout the territory.

As days turn into months, and months into years, the elation fades. There are many circumstances along the way that bring cause for joy and satisfaction. Conversely, things happen that bring sadness and questioning of God’s purposes. During such times thoughts of giving up are rampant, and many quit.

This is not only true for officers and pastors, but for everyone who commits to serving God.  We start out with great enthusiasm and sense of determination. However, as life moves on, discouraging and disheartening circumstances of life come. These challenges leave many with a sense of hopelessness or despair. Quitting becomes an easy way out.

This is certainly not a new thing.  Habakkuk said (1:2), How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you will not listen? This is a crisis moment, one where quitting is easy and convenient. However, if we read just a few more verses (vs. 5), Look to the heavens and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. In turbulent times of life, God’s answers are often on the other side of the storm. In essence, he is saying, “Trust me, keep going, don’t quit, and be faithful.”

I ran the Honolulu Marathon a couple years ago. I remember mile marker 22, it was not a good time. I was tired, wet, and my feet hurt with every step. I was tempted to stop, telling myself that no one would know or care if I quit. I hated mile 22! However, four miles later, at the finish line, emotions overwhelmed me. I had tears of joy and fulfillment. I had a sense of accomplishment that I would have never had if I had quit at mile 22. In the same way, quitting during difficult times robs the person of seeing God’s provision and ultimate deliverance.

General John Gowans (Ret.) perhaps said it best:


If tears should fall, if I am called to suffer,
If all I love men should deface, defame,
I’ll not deny the One that I have followed,
Not be ashamed to bear my Master’s name.

I’ll not turn back, whatever it may cost,
I’m called to live, to love and save the lost.


Thanks, Charleen, for your example.

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