It is with a little anxiety that I write this first post. The idea for a blog detailing my journey into the Naval Chaplaincy and beyond is something that I’ve contemplated for quite a while as God has continued to burden my heart for the young men and women serving in our armed forces.
Having felt the first inclination of a call to chaplaincy back in October of 2008 Angela and I began to absorb ourselves in finding out more about the different branches of the military and what all it would entail in being a chaplain serving in the armed forces. I must confess what originally drew us to navy chaplaincy was the shorter length of deployments as opposed to the army. What I find ironic now that I look back on that initial assessments almost a year and a half later (knowing that deployments can vary and at times can be up to a yearlong) is that God used something very selfish in my nature to draw me towards the branch He wanted me in. In other words, I was looking for the easiest path and God allowed me to move in that direction because it was THE path. Having spent a year plus in the process I can safely say with confidence that there really is no such thing as an easy path. Chaplaincy – in whatever branch – will be stress-filled and a struggle moment by moment day by day. It is here that I find myself 16 months later resigned to one truth: I will say yes. Yes to His will, Yes to His way, Yes to His call.
So it begins.
Over the next 4 months Angela and I poured over everything we could get our hands on concerning Navy Chaplaincy. Doors began to fling wide open in ways we had not seen in a long time. The desert; that proverbial 40 years; (admittedly it was only 3 for us) was over! God was moving in our lives and we were anxious, excited, and a little scared at the whirlwind that was coming. I was being fast tracked for the August 2009 ODS (Officer Development School) class. There are only 3 times a year that direct accession chaplains go to ODS, January, May, and August. I was being pushed for a July CARE Board interview so I could make the August Date.
Then I get a call…
My Endorser at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) called to inform me that there was a slight hiccup in my Endorsement. No problem, I thought, God is in control here so how bad could it be. I needed another 6 to 12 months of ministry experience. It was June. I did the math and no matter how much Fuzzy Washington Insider math I tried I could not make 2 = 6.
I was young he told me, plenty of time he told me. All I could hear was that giant oak door slamming shut. Disheartened, feeling alone, forsaken of God – I pouted. A very manly pout, but a pout nonetheless – it wasn’t fair!
My endorser left me with some sage advice, that at the time I didn’t want to hear (but would eventually act upon to the Glory of God), and said call him in January and left it at that.
Life moved on, and so did I. I wound up moving into a position at a local church as the Discipleship Pastor, half with the chaplaincy in mind and half with an understanding that I might be there forever.
I think one of the greatest gifts my father has ever given me was the mentality that I should never find myself in ministry simply for the short term. Expect everything to be a life work until the moment God says “Go.”
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and January was upon us. God called. He said “Go.”