A Trip Down Memory Lane | The Salvation Army

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

Old photos and certificates
Posted June 28, 2020

Covid-19 lockdown gave me the perfect opportunity to sort through boxes of memorabilia going back five decades. Talk about memory lane!

The black and white photo was small—two serious young girls peered out at me. Memories flooded back. We were eight years old and best friends. We’d even made a promise to each other—‘crossed our heart’, said ‘God’s honour’ and promised friendship forever. Within two years, she moved to another town; I’ve never seen her since. Mmmm … that ‘forever promise’ didn’t last long!

My next discovery revealed two tatty certificates, yellow with age, edged with rusty drawing-pin holes and speckled evidence of insect visits. At just six years old, the New Zealand Temperance Club was my first pledge: Having received the consent of my parents, I promise to abstain from all intoxicating liquors as a beverage at least until I am over 21 years of age. I’ve been pleased to keep that promise throughout my life.

My Salvation Army Junior Soldier Pledge, signed aged eight, adds more personal meaning and direction than the Temperance Pledge. It explains my trust in Jesus as my own Saviour. It affirms that Jesus will help me to live as his child. I promised to pray, read my Bible and abstain from all intoxicating drink.

At 15, I became a senior soldier (member) of The Salvation Army and promised to make the values of the Kingdom of God the values of my life. It hasn’t always been easy; sometimes I’ve messed up, but God’s grace is amazing, forgiving and unfailing.

It was 53 years ago when I signed another promise—this one a ‘covenant’ with God as a Salvation Army officer (ordained minister), to love, trust and serve him supremely so long as I live. What an awesome privilege. I’m still keeping that promise!

Over 50 years ago on our wedding day, David and I signed a marriage covenant: for better for worse (95 percent on the better side!), in sickness and in health (so far, so good!), to love and to cherishand this I declare upon my honour. Absolutely no regrets here!

Promise, Pledge, Covenant? Three words, yet all describe our ‘word of honour’, sometimes to God, sometimes to another person. The spirit of each is a binding agreement.

In ancient times, the transfer of property rights was ratified by one party taking off a sandal and giving it to the other party. Elders then sealed the transaction, and that covenant was legally binding. In modern times we swap the sandal for our signature.

At the age of 15, William Booth (co-founder of The Salvation Army with his wife Catherine) made the promise: ‘God shall have all there is of William Booth’. Because he kept his promise, we have the opportunity to serve in this ‘Army that brings life’.

How are you going with honouring your past promises? It’s never too late to dust off memory-lane words of honour and breathe new life into them.

By Major Judith Bennett