‘God, where do I put my towels?’
Commissioner Sue Swanson addresses delegates“Towels are freshly washed and folded and ready to be put away in the closet, but have you ever noticed—they never quite make it there?”
Commissioner Sue Swanson, territorial president for women’s ministries, asked that question at this year’s Candidates Seminar Weekend on the evening of Feb. 8.
As a hush fell over the audience at the College for Officer Training (CFOT) in Suffern, N.Y., Swanson said that people will do almost anything to avoid putting towels away, a metaphor for their procrastination in acting on God’s calling for their lives.
“[The towels] end up hanging around,” she said. “You know there’s a place for them, but you’ll do everything that you can to avoid those towels. You’d rather move everything else around—even redo the furniture—so you don’t have to take care of the towels.”
Swanson used an actual stack of towels to bring her point into clear focus. She said that the Bible is full of people who wondered where to put their “towels”: Elijah, Priscilla, and Aquila, as well as disciples Peter and Matthew, who uprooted their lives to follow Christ.
“They put their towels in a different place,” she said.
Swanson said everyone in the audience should have already prayed about what to do with their towels—and whether God was calling them to officership.
“Have you just laid the question before the Lord? ‘God, where do I put the towels?’”
Swanson then called delegates forward where they each received a small white towel.
“Do you want to take your towel and ask God where to put it?” she said.
Swanson closed her message powerfully as people clung to the towels, praying for guidance, and sang the praise song “Cornerstone.” Their voices reverberated through the CFOT gym.
Lt. Colonel Kenneth W. Maynor, territorial program secretary, told the audience, “After tonight, I don’t think I’ll ever think of towels in the same way.”
The Candidates Seminar Weekend, themed “EXTRAordinary,” began Feb. 7 at Centennial Memorial Temple in Manhattan with the installation of Colonels William and Lorraine Bamford as chief secretary and as territorial secretary for women’s ministries.
On Saturday in Suffern, N.Y., delegates chose from three tracks—“Exploring,” “Discovering,” or “Accepting.” They toured CFOT, met with cadets, and learned what it was like to be a Salvation Army officer.
To open the praise meeting on Feb. 8, Major Thomas Lyle, territorial candidates secretary, interviewed the Commissioners Swanson.
Commissioner Barry Swanson said that his calling to become an officer was a “gradual process.”
“I came to a point where, inwardly, I realized that the ministry of the corps officer was what was really attractive to me,” he said.
Lyle asked Swanson if that calling is still as real for him today.
“Absolutely. There is nothing in the world I would rather do than be a Salvation Army officer. It’s not always easy. It’s not always fun, but it is always rewarding,” Swanson said.
by Robert Mitchell