By Capt. Tanya Pemberton
Administrator of Program at Santa Monica, CA Adult Rehabilitation Center
Working in The Salvation Army can have our wheels spinning, especially with this constant cycle of change and transition happening in our centers, corps, and lives. The truth is, I know I am called to be an Officer; and at this time, I am in the ARC; what a beautiful and fantastic ministry! However, God has taken me down some very overwhelming and uncomfortable paths over the past few years. Paths that I could not figure out on my own.
Things got so bad that I was told I could be put on OED (officer experiencing difficulty). That scared me, and I had to figure out how to go on. I was so depressed and wanted out. I planned out leaving officership. I was extremely frustrated and angry. I didn’t understand what was happening, but I couldn’t stop being so angry at the situation.
It was at this time I remember making a promise to God that I would never leave the ministry angry. This meant that I had to figure it out but didn’t know where to start. That’s when God whispered to my heart: “Go back to the basics” I had to remember that God wired me with gifts that I do exceptionally well. He also stretches me in areas to remind me that I am entirely dependent on Him, which must have been what He was doing.
So back to the basics, what is that? When I think of getting back to the basics, I immediately think of Jesus’ visit with Martha and Mary at their home in Bethany. Luke 10:38-42 talks about this visit. It says:
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I know that no matter how hard I try to embark on my own strength, it all comes back to relying on God. I can never do it on my own, and I’m alright with that because things manage to work out better when I turn to Jesus for help: when I posture myself at His feet throughout my day, and that is just what I did.
First, I went to His feet, the feet of Jesus, in my mind. I sat there picturing Him, and me at His feet. It is there that I found a quiet place in my heart. Then I went back to the basics, back to truth, back to the foundation of sound teaching we have in Jesus Christ. Mark 12:30-31 says this, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
This started my journey to where I am now; flourishing in the season I am in – contentment! Focusing on God and the beautiful souls that God entrusted to The Salvation Army under my care, I let the rest go. It didn’t seem to matter as much as time passed.
Now I am not facing OED, quite the opposite. I am flourishing in my appointment and so are the people around me. Are there things I wish I could change? Definitely, but that no longer defines me, or my day. I can focus on the things that matter, God, others, and my family. And those things that matter to me the most are loving others just as Christ has instructed in his greatest commandment.
My hope and my prayer is that this devotional touched your heart today and it allowed you to understand that while you’re going through the storms of life, Christ is there, go back to the basics, and depend on him in all that you do and say, and he will guide your footsteps.