The beginning of the end?


by Major Terry Camsey –

This has been a very strange Christmas for me (and for Beryl) since the reality of a potentially significant change in our lifestyle looms closer with each passing day.

There has been much talk over the millennium phenomenon about last days. There were, if I believe the news media, a number of religious groups that went to Jerusalem fully expecting that Christ would return and they would be swept up in the rapture. That kind of talk always worries me since, to my theologically ignorant mind, it seems the Bible makes it quite clear that it is not for us to know the times.

Years ago, when I first came to this great country, my adopted home, I taught a Sunday Bible class for high school students. That was in 1972 and the hot topic then capturing the attention of each member of the class was the rapture. The end and the second coming they felt was nigh. But, as Isaac Watts put it (in Song #13, the Song Book of The Salvation Army), “A thousand ages in thy sight are like an evening gone…”

On the scale of eternity, a millennium is pretty short, and what some interpret as signs of the end times may be “small potatoes” compared to what God has in store. I told my class then, and feel the same now, that the key imperative is to be ready ­ whether the end be tomorrow, next week or never in our earthly life span.

My naïve faith tells me that God made each one of us very precisely (Psalm 139) and for a purpose. As long as we are here, we are to strive to accomplish that purpose. When we have completed that task, he takes us home. That is very simplistic, I realize, and does not address the issue of disturbance of God’s desire by circumstances outside of our control…accidents, illness, and the like.

The key point, however, being that– as long as I am here–God has a purpose for my being here. It is that knowledge that brings zest to life…the fact that I am important to him…so important that I am given all the time he feels I need to accomplish that task. Then, he will take me home where I can hear that “Well done” we all long, one day, to hear.

So, these are very strange times for Beryl and myself as, with each passing day, retirement from active service (whatever that means in light of what I have said above) draws closer. Will it mean retirement from ministry. A resounding “No!” If I am still here there is a work to do. I jokingly tell people that I hope, when he calls me, I shall be running so fast down the road of ministry, that I will not notice and someone will tap me on the shoulder and say “Don’t you know you died ten minutes ago?” I will respond “Really?”

Thus, as the retirement date nears (and it is only six months away now), we shall not disengage from ministry, nor withdraw from the battle lines, since the line is an imaginary one. Neither will we slow down. Some may imagine it spells completion of our part in the War and calls for resignation, respite and rest. Speaking for myself, it is just that, an imaginary line…I will cross over it at full speed, with my eye on the ultimate destination.

Former General Frederick Coutts (my wife’s training principal) put it best… “There is no discharge in this war.”

I believe it.

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