Eight years ago, I sent a message to the officers of my Division that began with these words: “I don’t recall a time in my forty years of officership as perilous as this.”
It was an election year. I wrote, “The broader economic outlook for our country is itself the subject of fierce debate in this presidential election year. And the Army faces enormous challenges to raise the funds required for us to continue to serve those we are called to serve.”
The peril and the challenges are exponentially greater as The Army faces the same ravages as society in general: employee lay-offs, closed Family Stores, severe drops in income, yet increased demand for service provision. As a retired officer, I am led to pray for Army leadership at every level. What are we to do?
China Inland Mission founder Hudson Taylor said, “God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.” I believe that to be true. For me, this truism has included the fact that doing God’s work in God’s way means vigorously providing opportunities to others to partner with us in providing God’s supply (otherwise known as “fundraising”). But the current challenge seems to have foreclosed some of those avenues of funding supply.
If we are doing the most good (the most we possibly can), what does that require of us right now? Admittedly, this is an arena where experience provides little practical advice. Nonetheless, here are my suggestions for those on the front lines of ministry:
- Pray earnestly for His guidance in the sobering decisions that must be made to ensure that we continue to do His work. Pray especially for Territorial and Divisional leaders who are confronted with the immensity of the problem across their area of responsibility.
- Don’t stint in providing assistance to those in need. This is no time for hoarding resources. Believe that God will refill your food pantry as He did the widow’s oil through Elisha (II Kings 4:1-7).
- Invite reliable supporters to assist in the actual work of service provision. You may find an “Elisha” who will be instrumental in refilling the pantry shelves.
- Look for innovative ways to “stretch” the resources. Miracles like the loaves and fishes may not be replicated, but perhaps God is directing us to some “lad with five loaves and two fish” that we overlooked before.
- Don’t despair. I love the Charles Wesley verse that says, “Faith, mighty faith, the Promise sees and looks to that alone, laughs at impossibilities, and cries, ‘It shall be done!'” The situation may seem hopeless, but God will provide a way.
And don’t forget to pray for those who, on top of the uncertainties of CV19 operations, are under Farewell Orders. The challenge of leaving everything ship-shape is heightened by the changes taking place in the public square over the next two months.
I know that I am not the only retired officer praying for you. Your arms are being upheld by prayer warriors, some whose names you’ll never know.