The spice box

by Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel – 

I shouldn’t have been driving at all, let alone driving at 70 miles an hour on an interstate notorious for its heavy traffic and high speeds. Barren hills of unreclaimed desert alternated with fields of thriving crops and green orchards, but I saw neither through the film of tears that at times overflowed and coursed unheeded down my cheeks. My heart was at war with my raging mind: “I want out! This is wrong—God cannot expect me to remain part of such an organization. I can’t do it—I’m quitting.”

“The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

Shock drove the tears from my eyes. Where did that come from? A Scripture verse, obviously, but not one I’d ever memorized. He’s done it again! It really shakes me up when God impresses on my mind bits from his Word that I never consciously learned, and he knows it! But why now? Ugly memories forced their way to the surface; anger surged, but the tears were gone. God does not call his people to serve where he does not want them—so why has he put me in this situation? And why won’t he agree that I should resign? Now.

“The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

The reasons for my anger and, yes, despair, are irrelevant now. It is enough to know that they were real, and they were valid. I had discovered serious wrongdoing, and it apparently was not going to be dealt with as I thought it should. I was questioning the morality and ethics of the organization to which I had dedicated my life, and asking myself if service in this Army was truly my calling. Was my calling to Salvation Army officership real, or had I gotten caught up in the romance of the organization, an organization known for its service to God through service to suffering humanity?

“I didn’t call you to serve The Salvation Army—I called you to serve me as an officer of The Salvation Army.” Whoa! That was no Scripture verse.

“Big deal, God. A distinction without a difference. You called me into Salvation Army officership. As an officer I serve the Army.”

“No, I called you to serve me, wherever I choose to place you. You gave your word. I haven’t changed my mind—have you?”


“Relax. Just remember, this is my Army. I called it out, just as I called you. ‘The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.’ Listen, I have a plan…”

I learned a lot from God that day. He taught me that The Salvation Army is an organization, imperfect, fallible, but called out and ordained by him and dedicated to his purposes. He reminded me that I was pretty much the same—imperfect, fallible, but called and ordained by him and dedicated to his purposes. He taught me that I didn’t have to agree with everything that happens in the Army—I have only to seek his guidance in serving him to the best of my ability. He taught me that where I discovered wrongdoing, it was up to me to do my God-given best to bring about change—but to leave the results in his hands. He taught me not to ignore wrongdoing, but to confront it, to fight for what I believed was right for this Army and the Kingdom of God. He taught me that I wouldn’t always win all my battles, but that didn’t mean I could quit trying.

And most of all, he taught me that the good gifts and the call of God, both precious things, are not taken back. I looked it up. It’s Romans 11:29. I won’t forget again.

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