Summer Smiles, Grad Gifts, and Great Giveaways
- May 31, 2023
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, gave this response when asked about the secret of his success: “I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, and men with greater opportunities. But from the day I got the poor of
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, gave this response when asked about the secret of his success:
“I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, and men with greater opportunities. But from the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and caught a vision of all Jesus Christ could do with them, on that day I made up my mind that God would have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has had all of the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.”
William Booth experienced risen grace by way of a vision — a vision that sparked a life-changing passion and launched a worldwide movement that now accomplishes missional and humanitarian work in 130 countries around the globe.
Over the course of the next three Faith Conversation articles, I would like for William to share his vision with you in his own words. Along the way, I will offer some thoughts (in italics) as we also experience risen grace and allow our spirits to be taken with passion.
The year was likely 1865. The location was London, England. Here is William Booth’s Vision of the Lost:
In one of my recent journeys, as I gazed from the coach window, I was led into a train of thought concerning the condition of the multitudes around me. They were living carelessly in the most open and shameless rebellion against God, without a thought for their eternal welfare. As I looked out of the window, I seemed to see them all . . . millions of people all around me given up to their drink and their pleasure, their dancing and their music, their business and their anxieties, their politics and their troubles. Ignorant – willfully ignorant in many cases – and in other instances knowing all about the truth and not caring at all. But all of them, the whole mass of them, sweeping on and up in their blasphemies and devilries to the Throne of God. While my mind was thus engaged, I had a vision.
(William Booth allowed himself to connect to the suffering others. This is not an easy thing to do. Allowing yourself to connect to suffering — to really see it, to touch and smell it — can be very disconcerting and upsetting. That’s why we avoid it. When was the last time you took a ride through a different part of town and allowed yourself to see the suffering that exists in your community? It might be a good idea to park your car and go for a walk through some neighborhoods and back alleys. Things aren’t good. There’s a lot of suffering out there. Are you allowing yourself to connect to it? I once spent a week in the barrios and slums of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Connecting to the suffering was painful — but it awakened me and had a profound effect on my life.)
I saw a dark and stormy ocean. Over it the black clouds hung heavily; through them every now and then vivid lightening flashed and loud thunder rolled, while the winds moaned, and the waves rose and foamed, towered and broke, only to rise and foam, tower and break again.
In that ocean I thought I saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating, shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning; and as they cursed and screamed they rose and shrieked again, and then some sank to rise no more.
And I saw out of this dark, angry ocean, a mighty rock that rose up with its summit towering high above the black clouds that overhung the stormy sea. And all around the base of this great rock I saw a vast platform. Onto this platform, I saw with delight a number of the poor struggling, drowning wretches continually climbing out of the angry ocean. And I saw that a few of those who were already safe on the platform were helping the poor creatures still in the angry waters to reach the place of safety.
On looking more closely I found a number of those who had been rescued, industriously working and scheming by ladders, ropes, boats and other means more effective, to deliver the poor strugglers out of the sea. Here and there were some who actually jumped into the water, regardless of the consequences, in their passion to “rescue those who were perishing.” And I hardly know which gladdened me the most – the sight of the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks reaching a place of safety, or the devotion and self-sacrifice of those whose whole being was wrapped up in the effort for their deliverance.
(Have you ever witnessed someone drowning and you couldn’t do anything to save them? That scene, and the helplessness that comes from it, is the beginning of William Booth’s vision. Next week, William will look more closely at the people who have been rescued from the sea and how they spend their time on the rock — even as people continue to drown at their feet! My prayer is that William’s vision will awaken us so that we too are taken by passion.)
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