Aug 18, 2011

Here We Are. . .

[The following is a guest post by Mr. H. himself!]

As of right now, I have completed all the requirements for becoming a Navy Chaplain.  All my paperwork, interviews, and physicals are complete!  I heard from my endorser (The Evangelical Church Alliance) this afternoon, and they have endorsed me and sent the required paperwork to the Navy Chief of Chaplain’s office.   We have told the church what we are doing, and the news is quickly spreading throughout the community. 

With everything complete, I am waiting on word from my recruiter about the September 8th Board in Washington D.C. If there is room on the board, the Navy will fly me there and put me up in a hotel for the night, and then fly me home after the interview.  If not, I will wait until October.  I may or may not be escorted to Washington by one of the chaplain recruiters who cover this area.  I am still awaiting the word on that.  After the interview, it should be a few days before I know what the Lord has in store for us.  We are nearing the final leg of this part of the journey, and wait expectantly for what the Lord will do. Mrs. H. and I believe we are called to this ministry, and expect a positive result from the board, but the whole thing is ultimately in the Lord's hands (Isaiah 49:4 NLT).This far the journey has been exciting, emotionally draining, and fraught with last minute changes of plans and appointments.  We are glad to see it coming to a close, yet we know that the journey is often an important part of the process.  We will keep you posted regarding the date I actually go to Washington!  Thanks for all your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement during all of this.  

Here are some of the highlights of our journey so far (in no particular order). . .

1.    Identification with the lives of multiple Bible characters.                                                                                                                                                                         Joshua—Mr. R.’s exhortation to read Joshua 1:1-12 was a key motivator  in my decision to pursue the Chaplaincy as I realized God would be with me "wherever I go," and that I needed to be "strong and courageous"  Further identification with Joshua came as a result of the teaching of Steven Furtick in his book Sun Stand Still.  He brought out the fact that when Joshua commanded the sun to stand still there was a period of time between his command and the realization that God was actually going to do it.  (Joshua 10:9-15).  I feel like I am in that position right now.  We've told everybody where God is leading us and what we believe he is going to do, but we must wait to see!                                                                                                                                                    
Paul-- Acts 20:22  "And now compelled by the Spirit I am going to Jersualem, not            knowing what will happen to me there."  Replace "Jerusalem" with "Washington D.C." and I feel like I am standing in Paul's shoes (Hopefully I won't be put in prison).                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
Beniah-- 2 Samuel 23:20  "Beniah chased the lion into a pit and despite the snow and slippery ground, he killed it"  Thanks to Mark Batterson's book (In A Pit with a         Lion on A Snowy Day) about taking risks and grabbing opportunities by the tail (no pun intended).  In his book, Batterson exposed the reasons why people no longer chase lions, and refuted every single argument I had for not taking this chance to follow the Lord.  I thought I had a pretty solid case for staying put, but the Lord showed me otherwise.  Whether I become a chaplain or not, I know that I will never have to look back and wonder "What if I’d tried?”  I have complete peace that I have been obedient to the Lord (1 Samuel 15:22)!

Moses-- As always, my heart resounded with Moses’ experience with God in Exodus 3.  I never felt like I was good enough or qualified to take this step, but with the Lord’s help, I will be able to handle whatever he brings my way!
2.     The support and encouragement I was given by various people during every step of this journey.  I am unbelievably grateful to each of you who have encouraged me, prayed for me, counseled me, or provided references and recommendations.  I expected a great deal of resistance, but almost everybody has been unbelievably encouraging.  I thank the Lord for each of you.  Your support, encouragement, friendship, and tears mean more to me than you will ever know.                                                                              

3.    MEPS-- While most people dread going through the MEPS and having their medical history, bodies, and background scrutinized, the MEPS experience was a good one for me (aside from all the medical stuff, nobody really wants to strip down to their boxers with 10 other guys and perform various exercises under the watchful eye of a retired Lieutenant Colonel).  As an officer candidate, I was given preferential treatment at the hotel before heading to the MEPS.  I was standing at the end of the line of 43 recruits (Most under the age of 20, and all thinking I was 19) when our liaison remembered he had an officer recruit going to the MEPS.    After barking orders, ridiculing others, and exuding the typical gruff persona of a drill instructor, he said "Where is my officer candidate?"  I raised my hand and he promptly asked me what I was doing at the back of the line.  He escorted me to the front of the line, told one of the other recruits to make me a cup of coffee (which I didn't drink) and then dropped the attitude.  He became very cordial and told me what I needed to do and, made sure I sat in one of the leather recliners in our waiting room. He "instructed" the other recruits in no uncertain terms to stay out of it.  Later when it was time to eat he said "Sir" to get my attention.  When one of the other recruits responded to “Sir” he rebuked him saying, "I said 'Sir,' I was talking to the officer candidate, sit down."  Then he put me at the head of the chow line!  I swear, I've seen a lot of stuff in my life, but that . . . was . . . awesome!                   

The other awesome experience at MEPS was the camaraderie I had with the recruits going through the same process I was.  In the middle of the chaos of the morning, I remember sitting there feeling like I was "home" and knowing there is no other place in the world I would have rather been at that moment The feeling of being "home" is a common experience for me any time I set foot on a military installation or spend time with soldiers.  It is like nothing else I have ever experienced.  I hope to serve with the soon to be Marines and Sailors I met that day and look forward to the day where a military installation (at home or abroad) is our home.                                                                                                                               
4.    The killer soundtrack.  During the last few months, several songs have provided me with encouragement, and opened my heart up in worship to God in new and unexpected ways.  “Light Up the Sky” by the Afters reinforced Joshua 1:9 and always reminds me that no matter what happens, God is with me.  “Our God” by Chris Tomlin stirred me to action with the reminder that “If our God is for us, then who could ever stop us, and if our God is with us, then what could stand against.”  “Take Me into the Beautiful” by Cloverton has inspired me in more ways than one.  I’m not sure why “Manifesto” by The City Harmonic made this list, but I have listened to it over and over during the last few months.  There is something freeing about the high-pitched “AAAAAAAAmen” throughout!
5.    My ordination service.  As a requirement by the Navy, and the ECA I didn't really know what to expect, or how important this would be to me.  Although I am not big on titles, ceremonies, and pomp and circumstance, the ceremony with Chaplain H., Chaplain S., and Chaplain R. was incredibly meaningful.  Although they gave me a hard time about joining the Navy, they may eat those words when they are standing in a desert and I send them a picture of my family lounging at the beach or me preaching on the deck of an aircraft carrier at sunrise in the middle of the Pacific.  (I probably shouldn’t speak too soon, because if I become a Navy Chaplain, I may end up in a desert with them if I get assigned to the Marines or Seals.)  Plus I’ve heard rumors that as a Navy chaplain I may get a sword at some point.  The Army can’t touch that!

 The experience was great partially because it was awesome to be with the chaplains, but mainly because Chaplain R. and I knew each other prior to the service, and his prayer was an incredible blessing to me.  Whether he knows it or not, he and his wife have been invaluable assets to Mrs. H. and I as we have gone through this process.  Mrs. H. contacted his wife, Mrs. R., through her blog and Mrs. R. was willing to meet with Mrs. H., answer her questions and be an encouragement.  After Chaplain R. returned from Iraq earlier this year, he and his wife took the time to meet with Mrs. H. and I, answer more questions, and help us sort out what God was doing in our lives.  He has also offered to let me "shadow" him at Ft. Riley for a day so I can get a first-hand glimpse of a chaplain in action.  From what I understand the Army and Navy chaplains have similar roles, and I am looking forward to this experience, even though I will be working with sailors and marines.  (BTW, Chaplain R. the Greek text of 2 Timothy 2:4 is strateuo meaning “to do military duty” (warreth in the KJV) I think we can all agree that "sailor" is an acceptable (better) translation there). 
6.    My growing relationship with the Lord.  Throughout all this, I have learned (relearned?) several things about God that will stay with me as I follow him in the future.  If you know me at all, you probably know that I am a very private person, and everything I have expressed so far is way beyond my comfort level. With that in mind, I am going to keep these things to myself, but I would be glad to talk with you about them on an individual basis.  Let me just say that if nothing else comes out of this, I will have a strong foundation, and greater confidence in following the Lord wherever he decides to lead me in the future!  Sometimes you have to step out by faith, and trust the Lord to take care of you.  (Around my church, this is called "getting out of the boat" as a result of the Bible study I lead about Peter walking on water.  This spurred our church building project, and the phrase has stuck with the people for almost 5 years.  In my mind there is a certain irony to the fact that if I leave to become a chaplain, I will be "getting into the boat" (ship), literally.  Sometimes, I think God must have a great sense of humor!)  If you believe God is prompting you to do something that seems a little different, risky, or challenging, I would encourage you to GO FOR IT!  You will not regret it and your relationship with God will never be the same.

1 comment:

Pattie said...

You are correct: Chaplains are reminders of the holy, and you will be doing the same thing as Army and Air Force chaplains: talking to the men and women who serve, and probably much of the same stuff you did as a pastor: leading services, preaching, baptizing...that sort of thing. Ministry with boots on.