4,127 days and counting
by Captain Marissa McCluer
Looking back over the past 11 years as an officer, I never anticipated all the opportunities God has given me to be a blessing and to be blessed. Had I written this article before 2020, it would have held a different sense of optimism and joy for the journey. However, the last few years have been filled with difficulty, uncertainty and what has felt like a cosmic shift in the demands of ministry. I am sure feelings of exhaustion resonate with other officers, soldiers and employees. Yet, I know with certainty I am called to this ministry, and God has used my feeble hands to share the love of Jesus.
I’ve learned joy does not come from a momentary mountaintop experience. It comes from the awareness of the deep abiding presence of God in all circumstances of life and ministry. Finding joy in the journey comes by continuously trusting Jesus to make Himself known despite the circumstances.
We tend to share good things that are happening, but miss how the hard places bring an unshakeable sense of joy gained by running the race with endurance. Just the other day, I reminded a friend that ministry is not a sprint. It is a marathon. We must run at a slow and steady pace.
So where have I found joy in this crazy, busy, beautiful journey?
I am grateful for moments at the altar with children and adults seeking the Lord. I am grateful for quiet moments of prayer in the chapel each Sunday morning, asking the Holy Spirit to make our sanctuary a sacred space for all who enter. I am grateful for the many Pathway of Hope families I’ve helped find hope, healing, a new start and a community with the corps’ body of believers. I am grateful to walk alongside staff during life’s struggles, including the deaths of family members. I am grateful for God’s provision when we weren’t sure there was enough cash flow to keep the corps’ doors open. Reflecting on these moments, I am reminded of how God has shaped and formed me through the years.
Early in my officership I learned, “You cannot lead others where you have not been or are not willing to go yourself.” It’s grown within me a desire for deep spiritual formation so I can share God’s transformative power with others. For me, joy is allowing God to use the hard places to achieve His work in me and leading others to do the same.
My prayer for the next part of my ministry journey is found in Acts 20:24 (NIRV): “But my life means nothing to me. My only goal is to finish the race. I want to complete the work the Lord Jesus has given me. He wants me to tell others about the good news of God’s grace.”
I pray God will give you eyes to see how He can help you find joy in the hard places, knowing He is with you.