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‘I would do it all over again’

In recent months, I’ve become more aware of myself. I’ve also become more sensitive to what is going on around me, and particularly, what’s happening within me. You see, my husband, John, and I retire this fall. And I’ve been a Salvation Army officer for 37 years.Iwoulddoitalloveragain

As an active officer, the events of this year’s Commissioning weekend were my last. That’s why many of them took on a deeper meaning. I made a point to “drink it all in.”

Although the Sunday morning Ordination Service had its usual solemnity, it also brought June 11, 1978, to mind—my own commissioning day. Like an old married couple attending a wedding, listening to a bride and groom recite their vows, and reliving the emotions of their own commitment all over again, John and I held hands and watched the new officers recite their vows to the Lord. At that moment, God gently pressed upon my heart my ongoing commitment to Him.
What made the moment even more significant for me were the words of Commissioner E. Sue Swanson, territorial president of woman’s ministries, as she led the call to officership. As people came forward to openly declare God’s call on them, she said, “Officers, how many of you would do it all over again?”  From where I sat, I saw hands going up all over the room (mine included).

“On this journey, the greatest lesson I’ve learned is to cultivate my soul so that, in everything I do, I come from a healthy, pure place in my spirit.”
I’ve thought about that moment quite a bit. Yes, I would do it over again—and in a heartbeat. But the second round would look so different. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe I did the best I could, at the time, with my spiritual understanding. But if I knew then what I know now, I would worry less and pray more; work less and listen more; plan less and trust more.

I can honestly say that I have always physically worked hard, but not always spiritually smart. On this journey, the greatest lesson I’ve learned is to cultivate my soul so that, in everything I do, I come from a healthy, pure place in my spirit.

During the Friday evening worship service, entitled “In Spirit and in Truth,” Something happened that gave me joy about the Army’s future. A young leadership team led the worship. Twenty to 30 years old, they were engaged, and passionate in their worship of Jesus.

Regarding my retirement, I thought, rather than “laying down of my sword,” I’m “passing the mantle.” I‘ve come to a place in my life where I’m wiser. I will continue to serve with fervor in any way God calls me.

First and foremost I will be listening to, praying for, and encouraging people. And if God sees fit, I’ll also be equipping today’s soldiers to proclaim Christ in new and relevant ways.

Yes, I would become an officer all over again and I would do it differently. This is exactly what God is doing in this new chapter of my life.

To God be the glory!

—Major Lauren Hodgson is the assistant secretary for spiritual life development

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