While serving in Iraq during combat operations in 2006 my lungs were damaged. By 2008 the resulting breathing problems had progressed to the point I was medically evacuated from Iraq during my second tour as an Army chaplain.
After more then a year of failed treatment attempts and many doctors, both civilian and military, the Army decided I was no longer of value or use and a Medical Evaluation Board decided to permanently retire me from service.
The physical and emotional situation was difficult for me and my family. My health was failing and my career was at a very early end. The future appeared so uncertain. Health, provisions, usefulness were all up in the air.
A few words are inadequate to express the emotions involved with such drastic and unexpected changes in life. Fear, anger and depression accompany the physical challenges and changes. The unfairness of it all. Not only is my life impacted, but that of my wife and son. Relationships and roles change and life is redefined in the light of the new reality—the new and ever changing normal.
Life changing situations such as this help shed light on the object of our faith and trust. It challenges us to examine the degree to which we trust God. Do we trust Him or are we trusting what we believe He can or should do for us?
This question seems easy when things are going as we planned and desire. It can be easy to mistake trust in what God had and is providing for trusting Him—His goodness, His wisdom, His sovereignty, His love.
Now what? Is the question we must eventually ask. Life, abilities and finances have changed. I can no longer “do” what I once did. I can no longer work in the same way, with the same intensity and duration that helped lead to professional and financial success. All is different; and many would say worse. But….
Things are different and more difficult for sure; but not necessarily worse. Yes, physically things are difficult and limiting. God had blessed our past ministry. Successful and fruitful are two word to describe ministry before the lung problems. At all times glory, praise and thinks were given to God. Yet I relied too much on the abilities and talents God had provided. Now a lot of the physical ability is gone. From the perspective of trusting God, this is a good thing. Now there is more room for Him to work and truly receive the praise and glory for what is accomplished!
Out of these struggles is being birthed a new work here in the great North West—Christ the King, Yelm, WA (www.yelmchurch.com). A church community cooperating with God to create a place of hope and healing. A community of faith where people share and experience hope and the healing power and love of God. A community that relies on the working of the Holy Spirit and grace of God to work in the preaching of Scripture, the Sacraments and the gifts God gives to each member of the Church. It can not, and perhaps never should be, a one man (or few person) endeavor.
God uses us as we are. He desires us to trust Him, not what He has and will provide. As we grow in faith we will find that we grow in peace, joy and confidence.