I grew up within the Army, with a Dad as a bandmaster, a Mum as YPSM and a strong belief from a very young age that God was calling me to Officership. I became a Christian at 6 and have always believed in who Jesus was and what he did. I lost my way a bit as a teenager but always knew that God had his hand on me and would never let me go and so, after quite a long period of living the double life of Army on Sundays and who I wanted to be for the rest of the week, surrendered to him completely. I met and married Matt who joined the Army after he met me and we looked towards Officership as a couple. For various reasons, it didn’t happen and we left the Army and I spent a long time grieving the future I had imagined for me for so long. Matt continued to pursue ministry and went to Moorlands Bible College in Bournemouth.
Fast forward to recent times. Life ended up taking a different turn for Matt too and again I had to rejig my understanding of where I was supposed to be serving as he was heading towards Headship of schools rather than running a church as we expected. Absolutely where God wants him to be, I have no doubt, and serving God in an incredible way but again, there was a grieving what I thought our future would be and a dusting myself off and getting on with being a Christian where God had placed me. We had our six children (a story for another time, probably!) and were fostering as a family and life was good.
Just over 3 years ago, I had an amazing encounter with God which changed my life completely. My wider family was going through a difficult time and I had asked someone from church to come and pray with me about it. Whilst praying, the lady felt God prompt her to give me a copy of a verbal picture someone had given to her. It showed a woman walking with Jesus up to a tree in a garden. Jesus very gently put his hand onto the woman’s chin and opened her mouth. With his other hand, he reached into her mouth and took out a piece of fruit and slowly put it back on the tree. It was like the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden but in reverse.
A very simple picture but one which hit me like a brick. I had spent the last 20ish years trying to make up for the things I had done and the life I had lived, trying to make myself worthy of God. I saw his love for me as something forced, something which he had promised to do and, because he is a great God, honoured but with difficulty; like taking medicine and having to hold your nose so take the awful taste of it away. I was constantly so filled with guilt that I was unable to move forward. The picture showed me, so clearly, that when Jesus died on the cross he made me worthy. He took my sin and it was gone like it had never happened. I was pure, clean and free. God’s grace, his amazing grace meant that I didn’t have to feel guilty, didn’t have to do anything to earn my salvation. Jesus did it all. I ended that day feeling like a different person to the one I started it as. A new creation. One that I had been since the day that I asked Jesus to come into my life but without knowing it and so without living in the freedom that it gave me.
My life started to change from that day. My faith was new, was real and active. My love of God had never wavered over the years but my understanding of his indescribable gift did that day and so I was free to be who he had called me to be. I began to feel that God had more for me to do and slowly began to explore ministry within the church I was going to. Nothing felt quite right, though, and so I didn’t move forward with it.
Last year, we went to Spring Harvest (which is a Christian holiday, for those who don’t know!) and during the week I felt God calling me back into the Army and into Officership again. I’d not been to an Army meeting for 15 years and hadn’t really thought much about it but I couldn’t escape from the feeling throughout the week. I came up with my best excuse for why I couldn’t do it; Matt! We were settled, he was doing what God wanted him to and we were happy at our church. I couldn’t possibly ask him to even begin to consider changing anything. Sorry God, you must be mistaken. It’s just not possible…….
Except that the night we got back from Spring Harvest we were praying together and he very gently told me that he thought that God was calling me back into the Army and Officership!
It was all the confirmation I needed. I came to this corps the Sunday evening afterwards and settled into a routine of going to church with the family in the mornings and the Army in the evenings whilst beginning to explore how on earth Officership could even vaguely work for me in my situation.
I loved the church we were going to. I was involved in leadership and had said to Matt a few years earlier that he wasn’t allowed to get a job out of the area because I was never leaving the church. I love the singing and the songs, the preaching, the people, just everything about it. Yet one day, a few months ago, I sat there on a Sunday morning and knew that the time had come for me to let it go and commit to serving God within the Army fully. God had changed my heart and I was ready. I spoke to the Vicar who already believed that God was calling me to something and had listened months before when I told him what I thought God was saying and he gave me his blessing. I was prayed for at church as they sent me out to fulfil my calling…..and here I am.
I stand here loved by God, forgiven by him, made new and called by him to serve as a soldier here as I explore what he has next for me.