Death to Life
by Captain Paula
Staying Alive, Staying Alive........... so
are you singing it now? Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Staying Alive, Staying
Alive. As morbid as it might sound, this is the song you are
recommended to sing through in your mind if you ever need to
perform CPR, CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION! It’s just the
right beat. And good news, if you collapse with a heart attack
anywhere near me, you'll be glad to know, I am an expert at
CPR! I can potentially save your life! Yes, I am a nurse, a
I’ve been a nurse a long time and in that
time I’ve learnt a few things. One thing I’ve learnt is that
there are always signs and symptoms leading up to a person
needing CPR! If we miss the signs or ignore the signs, when
the person has a critical event like a heart attack, death is
more likely than if we treated the person in the lead up.
And IF that person does survive, it’s often
a less than full life, with a much shorter life expectancy.
I am also a lifelong Salvationist, who is
now a Salvo Officer in my 10th year. I’m also actually a fifth
generation salvo and an OK, so it’s safe to say, I’ve been
around the salvos a while!!
So what does this have to do with anything?
Recently in The Salvation Army in Australia we have released a
new vision and mission. We’re doing this for two reasons that
1. We are merging from two territories to
2. We are dying.
As part of the revisioning we were asked to
play some videos. The first video we played as part of the new
vision laid it out plainly. You can watch it here:
But here was the message I got from the
first video; The Salvation Army in Australia is on a serious
downward trajectory. We are dying. Yes, there are snippets of
life here and there, and I think the mission heartbeat is
strong in many. But still, dying we are. And without a
revisioning, without change, we will die!
And although I think this re-visioning is
good, I ask myself these questions; have we waited too long?
Have we missed the boat? Is death inevitable anyway? Are we at
I don’t know that answer, but I have to ask
the question; why did we wait till now before responding? Did
we see the signs and symptoms? Did we see them and ignore
them? If we didn’t see them, why not?
One thing nurses and salvos are good at is
taking observations. In nursing we take observations
frequently, in the critically ill we take them hourly, most
others we take them 4 times per day.
In the salvos we take observations through
our stats. In fact, we've been brilliant at taking our
observations through statistics. And if we saw the stats, our
recognised the signs and signs and symptoms to say that we are
dying, why have we ignored them? Why have we waited till now
to respond? Is it too late?
To put more personal context to this, I am
an eternal optimist. If you speak to most people who know me
well, they would tell you that I am a glass half full person!
It’s easy for me to see the silver lining. So I don’t ask
these questions lightly. I ask because I have a vested
interested in The Salvation Army!
So what if we die? I’ve been thinking this
through. Is death really the worst thing that can happen? In
fact, should it happen? Is giving in to death actually the
path that will lead us to life? Here's the thing, if we die,
we can’t just half die, we must fully die. Every sacred cow we
hold, everything laid on the altar, everything surrendered.
Here’s the question, if we want to live, to
be reborn, do we first NEED to die? Galatians 2:20 says; My
old self has been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who
live, but Christ lives in me". This implies complete
surrender, giving yourself over to Christ, even to the point
of death of your inner man!
And then there’s that part about old and new
wine skins in the bible. You can’t have new wine in an old
wine skin. If God is doing a new thing, can it be done WITH
the old? Does the old NEED to die?
This is where the nursing analogy loses
ground. Because dead is dead, physically. Spiritually, I
believe in life after death, but in a physical sense, once
you're dead, there's no coming back. But death is part of
life! We fight it with all our might, with our technology,
with all our skill, but in the end, we still die, it's the
natural order of things.
But death does give way to new life! In
every sense! We may grieve what we lost, but we rejoice at new
Are we as a Salvation Army trying
desperately to hold onto the old and decaying while trying to
birth the new? Can we even do that? Do we need a new baptism
of sorts, a spiritual renewal where we put everything to
death, surrender it, dead and buried, and then raise to new
life? Is that the only way forward?
2nd Corinthians 5:17 says it best.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Old
things have passed away; behold all things have become new”
Death is scary. But remember Jesus? I can
imagine the disciples, those who loved him, watching as he
died, grieving hopes and dreams, everything they held sacred.
Surely death can’t be the answer! And yet… 3 days later… Ah Ah
Ah Ah… Staying Alive, Staying Alive!
Isaiah 43:20 - Behold, I will do a new
thing, Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I
will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the
May we individually and corporately not be
too proud to surrender, too unwilling to yield, too arrogant
to change, too scared to let go. May we be true living
examples of this verse. The old has gone, THE NEW HAS COME!