JAC Online

Anything is Possible
by Lieutenant Samantha Nolan Jones

 

In June of 2008 the Boston Celtics squared up with another storied franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the NBA Finals. During Game 1, Paul Pierce was injured in the third quarter and taken out by wheel chair. To lose your best player, even momentarily, makes everything pause. All of a sudden all your hopes and dreams are dashed. Worry about the future sets in. Paul Pierce would return and the Boston Celtics would go on to win the 2008 NBA Championship a few games later. In the post-game interview after they won the championship Kevin Garnett responded with one of the most memorable lines of any post-game interview, “Anything is possible. Anything is posssssssssibbbbblllllllleeee!”

 

That is precisely where I find myself when it comes to where I stand with missional hopefulness and as I look forward to what God is going to do as we walk in faithful relationship with Him. There are many reasons to be disappointed and worried. The Salvation Army in my part of the world is not flourishing for the most part. There is an officer shortage, lay leaders are scarce in many corps, many churches are dying or being sustained by one or two big families. We seem to be doing well with relationships in communities and in our social service work, but the spiritual side seems to be lacking. So, like the moment Paul Pierce was taken out, there has been a collective gasp and worry about where we are headed for many. I have spoken with many people about where The Salvation Army stands today and as much as there is room to worry I am actually incredibly hopeful as I look ahead.       

 

God has been stirring people up and giving them a holy discontent with the status quo. Many of his followers are voicing their absolute thirst for a Spirit filled Army that is courageously proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and being participants in God’s work among our neighbors as we live out the Kingdom of God here. This begins with the work inside of us which I have also seen a greater thirst for. I do not just want God to have His way with the world, I want Him to have His way with me. I have no desire to be stuck on an endless track of disappointment and failure. I want the power that raised Jesus from the dead to be alive in me, refining me to maturity in Christ as I live in relationship with Him, my neighbors, and His creation. It fills me with hope and excitement that many are feeling God stir in them that same excitement to dig in deeply with Him and also boldly step out for Him.

 

All throughout Scripture my very favorite stories are ones where a person is in a situation that looks impossible and the God does His thing.

 

*  Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and he was taken to Egypt (Genesis 37). And even though the Lord was with Him and he succeeded in everything, Joseph still ended up in prison (Genesis 39). But the Lord was with Him there as well and the prison warden was kind to him and showed him favor. Then the dream interpretations of Joseph were proved true and the baker lost his life, but the cupbearer was restored. However, the cupbearer did not remember Joseph and so he remained in prison (Genesis 40). It is here in these spaces when people of God start to worry and ask questions. Joseph, even though the Lord was with him, has shared a good deal of trouble and unwanted circumstances. And at this point things look pretty discouraging. When Pharaoh begins having his own dreams, Joseph is eventually brought and gives the interpretation of his dreams that the Lord gave to him. Pharaoh then appoints Joseph in charge of his palace, as well as the whole land of Egypt (Genesis 41). Talk about escalating quickly! As my cousin AJ says, “Look at God.” You wouldn’t have suspected Joseph would be in charge of the palace, and the land of Egypt if you had met him as a slave or prisoner.

 

*  Jehoshaphat had a vast army coming against him (2 Chronicles 20). All the people of Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel and he stood in the assembly and told them all to not be afraid or discouraged, that they would not have to fight the battle, but stand firm and see the Lord’s deliverance. ARE YOU PUMPED?! I am because I know the end of the story! If I was one of those people, I think I would be the kind of “scared pumped” I feel in ministry pretty regularly. We would not need faith if the life we are called to was easy and without risk. It is scary sometimes, but the super exciting thing is that God, the living, true, all powerful God is not just with us but WITHIN us! All of the people of Judah fell to their faces and worshiped the Lord. The next day they set out to where God told them to go singing praises to God. As they began to sing, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir. By the time Judah reached the place they were told the vast army lay before them dead. The fear of God came upon the surrounding kingdoms and Judah was given a time of peace. 

 

And so, I am ultimately missionally hopeful because of God. Even when the deck seems stacked against us, even when we face situations that seem to spell out disaster (like Joseph and Jehoshaphat) God is God. I believe God raised The Salvation Army up for a purpose and I believe He could ruin us, but I have seen throughout Scripture and in my own life that God loves to redeem, to restore, and to bring back life. And we are not dead yet anyway! The current situation may seem discouraging, but I hear God calling us back to the foundations. I feel the fire. I believe God still has work for us to do, some “standing in the gap” work, some “love the unloveable” work, some “take cupcakes to brothels” work. It makes me smile to think of all the weird and unique ways The Salvation Army can do mission and bring honor and glory to God. I am blessed to be a soldier in this Army and am so excited to be a part of what God will do next in and with it. God can do things far “outside the box” as Kevin Garnett said, “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!”

 

Deuternonomy 10:14-22 says, 14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.15 Yet on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. 16 So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.17 For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. 18 He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. 19 So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.20 You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. 21 He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

  

 

 

   

 

 

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