Commissioner Flora Larson 1904-2000
Paul Marcarelli became Verizon’s famous “test man” in 2002 by popping out of a manhole on a city street, a muggy swamp in a remote area, an office cubicle, and even the desert. Every two steps he’d whip out his cell phone with, “Can you hear me, now?” to test the network’s reception. Years later, the techie with thick-rimmed specs has since switched to Sprint, asking a similar question: “Can you hear that?”
Marcarelli’s been fortunate to hear a direct voice on the other line each time. In spiritual life, there are times we may feel a great connection with God—and others when the reception doesn’t seem so strong. Regardless of the situation, we’re called to “never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
King David—and many others—have been creative with prayer, turning the plea of their hearts into songs to God. King David’s Psalms are poems and hymns covering everything from uncontainable joy to a sorrowful longing for God.
One Salvationist who put a modern spin on the psalms and prayer was Commissioner Flora Larsson. Through her writing, she captivated people throughout the world and encouraged them to enrich their lives through prayer.
Larsson was born in Buenos Aires in 1904. The third child of *Staff-Captain and Mrs. Alfred Benwell, she moved with her family the following year to England, where she spent the rest of her youth.
In London, Larsson was an active youth worker at Penge Corps and had a deep love of the Lord. After her parents got stationed in Denmark, she entered officer training there. She became a Cadet-Sergeant before being commissioned to France in 1927—the first of her many international appointments.
Seven years later she married Captain Sture Larsson, a Swedish officer serving in England. Together they would serve in England, Sweden, and Denmark. A series of territorial leadership appointments followed in South America, Denmark again, France, Finland, and Norway.
As if the international service wasn’t impressive enough, Flora Larsson was also a charismatic speaker in six languages. Her gift for language further influenced others through her writing. Larsson wrote articles and regular columns for national and international Army publications, and published many books. Just a Moment, Lord (1973) was one of her most popular. A War Cry series published into a book, Just a Moment, Lord was her first of five collections of prayer poems. It resonated with readers around the globe and was translated into several languages. In Norway alone, it has sold more than 100,000 copies. Larsson also read her poems on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday program when it first debuted!
Muses come in many forms, and for Larsson it came through nature. Majestic waters and bright flowers allowed her to marvel at God’s power and wisdom. Outdoors, she felt she understood Him most clearly. She often spent time in her garden and drew on this imagery in her poetry to connect with God.
PERSONAL PRAYERS AND LETTERS
Beyond books, Flora Larsson wrote weekly letters to her children that included advice, news, and her signature humor. Her counseling extended to friends and mentees as well. During her 26 years of retirement, Larsson developed her own special ministry to people. She continuously counseled and prayed for many whom she had developed relationships with over the years.
Part of the beauty of the written word is that people can continuously be inspired by words said long ago. For the late Commissioner Flora Larsson, this means that people around the world can continue to be blessed by her writing today.
Larsson was promoted to Glory on March 12, 2000 at the age of 96.
* Staff-Captain was an intermediate rank between Captain and Major that was initiated in 1881 and discontinued in 1931.
Psalms speak to the depth of our human experience. If you feel like God’s abandoned you, there’s a psalm for that. If you feel like celebrating how great God is, there’s a psalm for that, too. Sometimes people read psalms individually in this way—based on their emotions. However, if we read the book of Psalms from start to finish, we discover something greater than individual emotion—we find Christ, the Messiah.
The book of Psalms is made up of five mini books. While the first three books contain more poems of lament rather than praise, in books four and five, the praise prayers take precedence. This shows that while it’s appropriate to lament the evil things in this world, we should always be looking toward God and His Kingdom, which He promised. God hears the cry of His people and will send the Messiah to defeat evil and bring about His Kingdom.
Flora Larsson’s modern take on psalms brought many people to understand prayer in a relatable way. Check out this prayer poem from Just a Moment Lord.
WHERE ARE YOU?
By Flora Larsson
Master, where are You?
Yesterday I knew.
Yesterday I rejoiced in Your love;
Your presence enhanced each task;
Your comfort filled my heart.
Today, where are You?
Today is empty.
Today has no joys;
today has no wings;
today has no glad future;
All is drear, meaningless.
Has the veil of my flesh thickened so as to shut You out?
Have the shutters of my mind snapped together?
Have I carelessly left the blinds drawn on the
windows of my soul?
Show me, Master, if the fault is mine.
Help me to put it right,
And, if it is simply a weakness of the earthen vessel that bears
Your likeness without Your power,
help me still to believe in You;
to hold on in trust until my soul revives.
For I’m lonely without You, Lord,
and without You I cannot live.
Mariam Aburdeineh, Editorial Assistant