On the Corner
To the Messengers of the Truth
By Robert Docter –
Congratulations! You take a significant step today in your own lives, but a giant step for Christ. We are proud of you — of the values by which you have chosen to live; of your commitment to the Army as a place of service to God and humanity; and of your steadfast courage which has made it possible for you to reach this point.
Over the next few days and weeks one of the most asked questions you will confront will be: “Where are you going?” Your initial impulse will be to respond with the name of a city or a town. This is natural.
Carl Sandburg, one of my favorite poets, described a similar situation in his poem called:
LIMITEDI am riding on a limited express, one of the crack trains of the nation.
Hurtling across the prairie into the blue haze and dark air go fifteen all-steel coaches holding a thousand people.
(All the coaches shall be scrap and rust and all the men
and women laughing in the diners and sleepers shall pass to ashes.)
I ask a man in the smoker where he is going and he answers:
The image of this “limited express” hurtling through the night must parallel some of the feelings you have about the speed at which life changing events impact you. You leave this place no longer a student. Soon, some of you will be responsible for directing the affairs of a congregation, of administering a major Army program involving millions of dollars and hundreds of lives, of representing the spirit and essence of this century old, highly respected church and charity to the media and through them to the public.
All of you will be involved in facilitating life changing decisions involving single solitary souls engaged in a confrontation with God. Now you must produce.
Maybe the very “limited” response given the questioner in the “smoker” gives a hint at the answer. Some of you might believe you are simply going to a place like “Omaha.”
Your destination is not a matter of geography alone. It’s much more complex than that. You are going to a congregation, each member of which will hold different views on almost any subject known to humankind. You are going to minister–to serve–to tend a flock. The opposite of the word “minister” is the word “neglect”–just like the opposite of “love” is “apathy.” If it is your continuing intention to produce, avoid neglect. Neglect’s parent is self-centeredness.
Every day you are building a new “you.”
Disabuse the thought that having self-worth is being self-centered. Not so. You will be asked to give much of your self. Without some sense of worth, how will you have anything to give away? Now, who is worthy? Yes –as you fill your life with the presence of the living God, his worth fills you. You are important to him. He made you, and he loves you.
So–where are you going? In the Army, we’re always “Marching ON.” I don’t know where “on” is, but it’s not “here”–and neither has anything to do with geography. “On” involves looking ahead, being prepared, staying unchained by the problems of yesterday, living in the present while planning for tomorrow.
Sandburg said it like this:
I speak of new cities and new people.I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.
I tell you yesterday is a wind gone down, a sun dropped in the west.
I tell you there is nothing in the world
only an ocean of tomorrows,
a sky of tomorrows.
You are “limited” only by the dimensions of your own creativity, your own focus on the future, your own strength of will, your own willingness to allow God presence to fill you fully.
We’ll be praying for you.