September 24, 2010: I commissioned into the Army Reserves as a chaplain candidate. This year makes 10 years in the Army (and 13 since my days as a cadet) and the more I’ve thought about that time, the more humbled I am that God would allow me the experiences I’ve had and used me for His glory like He has.
My outlook on my career is not always positive. I often complain about the time commitment, and frequently entertain thoughts of walking away. The blessings aren’t often the first thing that come to my mind…usually just all the reasons I’m tired, which don’t help my attitude. But, I’m humbled when I think about the little things – the individuals, the moments, the conversations, the interactions – that are the big blessings.
So, I felt compelled to post these small interactions (the ones that I could recall) to remind myself of God’s goodness to me and the blessings of serving Him in this capacity. This are only small interactions, not even all the “cool” Army stuff I have blessed to do. I am only posting this so that I can be reminded each year of things which would otherwise be forever lost from my memory, crowded out by other pressing concerns and demands. You don’t have to read this, respond to it, or like it. Or love it or be mad about it, or whatever else you can do nowadays on the book of faces. This is for me to remember the blessings God has brought into my life by virtue of allowing me to serve as a Chaplain this past decade. But, hey, may the Holy Spirit remind you of His hand and presence in your life, too.
Over this past decade I have been blessed by:
Meeting genuine heroes from previous generations and serving with genuine heroes of my generation;
Waking up early to take a PT test with a struggling Soldier, and had others wake up early for me when I was that struggling Soldier;
Having Warriors weep on my shoulder and shedding my own tears on theirs;
Praying for Generals and Privates alike, and being reminded that we are all the same regardless of rank or station;
Preaching and praying the Gospel of Jesus to Soldiers from New York to California and so many places in-between;
Watching God restore broken marriages and walking with those whose marriages fell apart;
Praying with and counseling Soldiers who were on the verge of hopelessness and watching God restore their joy and hope;
Having Soldiers share deeply personal secrets with me they had never shared before and being used by God to help bring healing and restoration into their lives;
Praying for men and women as they boarded a plane into combat and hugging them as they got off the plane back home;
Spending time with officers from various countries and being reminded that everyone, everywhere is indeed created in the image of God;
Watching God heal children and bring hope to weary parents;
Training and mentoring Chaplains and sending them off to serve God in different capacities;
Administering the oath of office to incoming officers and praying - privately and publicly - for retiring officers;
Sharing communion with Soldiers in concrete bunkers and Humvees, with all of us smelling like the back-side of a yak, and God being so clearly there;
Burying Soldiers who died unexpectedly and counseling scared, young Soldiers who were expecting…unexpectedly;
Helping save a Soldier’s life who was experiencing a medical emergency and watching God use this as a platform for Gospel witness with his fellow Soldiers;
Saving another Soldier’s life by providentially discovering a single-car accident where his head had slammed into the windshield and was stuck. I got the opportunity to call 911, get him out of his car, and sit and pray with him until medical personnel showed up;
Running unexpectedly into a company of Marines in the woods, only to have them show up at my chapel service and allow me to speak with and pray for them;
Having life-changing conversations with strangers over very mediocre Army rations;
Reminding Soldiers that God loves them by surprising them at all hours of day and night, bringing them a variety of goodies and leaving them wondering, “who is this guy, where did he come from, and how did he get so many sweets?”;
Reminding people that they are not alone by begging, borrowing, or stealing what I need to get to where they are;
Having Soldiers call me late at night just to have a listening ear and occasionally ask for advice;
Watching God use something as simple as a shared cigar to open hearts and minds to receive hope and truth;
Spending several hours one evening with a Soldier only to learn years later how much it meant to him;
Spending most of the night in the hospital with one of my Soldiers, learning about them as a person. God used this time as a springboard to plant seeds of the truth of Christ.
Just a man trying to save his thoughts and correspondence