Keep walking

Sharper Focus

by Kelly Pontsler – 

Life is an adventure—more like a cross-country foot race than a jog around a paved track! The ups and downs can catch you by surprise at times. If you’re like me, you learn something new every day.

Last March, I landed in the hospital in Paris for a week due to a blood clot in my right leg. I can assure you that I received very attentive care from the hospital staff and huge support from my officer colleagues in the city, both of which helped to set me on the path to recovery. Ten months down the road, I remain grateful for all that was done for me in those days!

My leg is doing great, but it’s not back 100 percent, and so it was a topic of conversation with my doctor again recently. That’s when he explained something to me that I hadn’t really understood before. For my leg to be healthy, the blood needs to flow well in both directions. The flow down to my toes is great, but the return is not as good. “OK, how do we improve that?” I asked him. “More walking,” he replied.

Although I don’t have quite the speed I used to, I had already made up my mind to do more walking (New Year’s resolution…of course!). The doctor’s “order” has strengthened that resolve. As I was doing my loop around the neighborhood in the evening, a thought occurred to me.

Just as my physical body needs the back and forth movement of blood to remain healthy, so does our Salvation Army community. The exchange of people, ideas and resources strengthens the whole Army, in the same way that blood carries oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

In the past, the flow within the Army was primarily from north to south, and west to east. Giving and resourcing were a one-way proposition only. But things have changed. A recent issue of the Salvationist (a publication from the United Kingdom Territory) highlighted this fact with a cover graphic which clearly traces the Army’s current reality. In the early years, people went from England to the rest of the world. Today there are Indian officers serving in Africa, Australians ministering in Southeast Asia, South American and African personnel appointed to Europe.

In his address to the 22,000 students at the recent Urbana Missions conference, Pastor Oscar Muriu (Nairobi Chapel, Nairobi, Kenya) spoke fervently about the need for this sense of give and take. “We need to facilitate reverse missions,” he said. “Sure, we need to be aware of unhealthy dependence but aim for reciprocity.”

It’s not always easy! When my leg gets tired and starts to cramp, I can guarantee you that the temptation to just sit down and give up is huge. But better health is going to come if I keep walking. It’s a process that will get me beyond the clot.

The exchange of people, ideas and resources is hard work. It takes patience and trust and negotiation. When the process bogs down due to poor communication or misunderstanding, it can be painful at the time. But even better health for our community will come if we keep working at it.

When I left Paris in September, to return home to the USA, I was given a magnet with the Scripture verse of Isaiah 40:31:

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

What a great promise! It is up on my refrigerator and is a daily reminder to me of the source of health and strength.

Are you up against a “clot” in your life or in your ministry? Keep walking. I will!

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