the life of an officer
The September 9 edition of New Frontier [back cover] showed an officer in full uniform diving headfirst into a pool to the cheers of 350 children around him. The question posed is not so much “Why did you do that?” as “Is there any other way to wear a uniform?”
This act illustrates the absurdity of Salvation Army officership. How bizarre to expect anyone to forfeit the luxuries of this world for the service of others! How absolutely ridiculous to think people would ever agree to a rigorous two-year training schedule just to specialize in quiet, humble work like feeding diners who never tip or teaching course material whose only diploma is a life well lived.
No sane person would agree to countless hours of labor week after week just to help fulfill a 2,000-year-old mission that never seems to be fully accomplished. Only a fool would undertake the chore of healing their community’s most broken hearts, only to move unexpectedly and do it again in some unknown community in some other state for some other unknown amount of time.
Yet fool after fool marched through the hall of the Tustin Ranch Corps on a Saturday night in early September, all reveling in their irrational behavior and unreasonable commitments.
Nineteen new trainees became God’s Fellow Workers with the hundreds of officers in the room. The madness was compounded by this sense of jubilation at such a commitment. And in one small corner of the room, the next platoon watched expectantly, knowing that September 2007 is only a moment away, and that the Witnesses for Christ Session of cadets is already forming.
My wife and I have made our commitment to join the Witnesses for Christ, so we enjoyed the pleasure of an invitation to join the territory’s newest effort to bring future cadets together for a weekend of “Future Officers Fellowship.”
Major Nancy Dihle, territorial candidates’ secretary, delivered her unique brand of Bible study, question and answer sessions, getting-to-know-you games and plenty of straight talk about the work expected of candidates seeking acceptance into training.
As a former officer, I remember the general idea, but Major Dihle’s vision for guiding today’s candidates toward officership is a powerful twist on traditional methods.
The “New Thing” is an addendum. The “New Thing” is an attitude of Christlike discipleship and individual interest, something Major Dihle seems to have mastered easily. Joining today’s Future Officers Fellowship feels a lot like joining an elite force of military veterans to train for some dangerous and highly secret middle of the night rescue mission.
This is both exciting and daunting. It is a jump into the unknown, yet somehow strangely comfortable. It is foolishness. Absolute Foolishness. It’s the foolishness of 1 Corinthians 1—also known as the power of God (v.18), the pleasure of God (v. 21) and the course of action so much wiser than men (v. 25).
This foolish, farcical fellowship is calling. What can we do but dive in too?