Lieutenant Mhairi Smeaton
Lieutenant Mhairi Smeaton, assistant corps officer at the Salvation Army’s Hazlet Outpost in New Jersey, talks about exploring other cultures, feeling victorious in community, and how God’s perfect love is also His perfect humility.
In 2008, I led a “Hands On” mission team to Estonia. I had prayed for this opportunity to see Europe again after living in the United States for five years. Our team represented a mesh of cultures: me, a Scottish woman, led Americans to a country that none of us knew much about. But in the process, I learned that each of us can find God’s heavenly culture within earthly ones. When we engage in a new society, it may cause us some discomfort, but we also discover traces of God’s glory. There is beauty in seeing how the Lord presents Himself through a culture different than our own.
God is so good to us that His love actually surrounds us and becomes His beautiful humility. The Lord is perfect, yet He is not arrogant. An arrogant god would say that we could never be like Him. Instead, He tells us the complete opposite; we are all made in His image, we can absolutely be like Him, and it’s the best we can possibly be. None of us are ever so flawed that we cannot be in the presence of God.
As a candidate on my way to becoming a cadet, I spoke to God about my future as an officer. I asked Him to help me to never be negative or feel ungrateful for the opportunity to serve. I openly confessed a whole list of tasks that I did not particularly love doing, but if I had to be a Salvation Army officer, I would do them. God said, “Mhairi, you don’t have to be a Salvation Army officer. You get to be a Salvation Army officer.” I realized that I was fortunate to be given this opportunity. I’m not beholden to it; it’s a privilege. It’s a complete gift from God to be an officer in His Church.
My favorite verses in the Bible speak to the superiority of God. “God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19). This Scripture reminds me that God is not a boss that goes back on His word or one that raises you up just to break you down. He is intentional in every word He speaks. Another verse, Deuteronomy 6:4, says, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is your God, the Lord alone.” That short verse is the most basic and most correct description of God. He is the One who sends us forward and the only One who can guide us.
I measure every achievement in my life by how it has benefited others. Real victories go beyond the four walls of where I am right now. If I am about the Lord, my success will be His success, and the success of the community I serve. It can be easy to feel jealous when other people win. But when I see others win, and I celebrate their triumphs, it becomes a triumph for all of us. This was a hard lesson I learned from my past, even as a cadet.
by Hugo Bravo