In the fall of 2004 I was a youth ministry major at Oklahoma Baptist University. I had been in the National Guard for a little over two years. I was in the first few months of a relationship with my girlfriend (now wife).
My plan was to graduate from OBU and probably go into youth ministry but all that changed when an Army Chaplain recruiter set up a table in the student center. During one of my several daily trips through the student center I stopped to visit with the recruiter. He told me about the chaplaincy and I picked up some literature to look over.
It wasn’t long after that visit that I told my girlfriend that I felt called to the chaplaincy. She encouraged me to pursue that calling. That was when I started taking steps that finally culminated in a phone call on Valentine’s Day of 2014. I changed my major to Bible. I started making plans to attend seminary. I went to seminary. I got ordained. I became a Chaplain Candidate. I graduated from Seminary. I became a chaplain in the Guard. I was called to pastor a church in Kansas. I started the process to become a chaplain on Active Duty.
Last summer, while I was acting as Chaplain for our regional Officer Candidate School, my wife came up to visit one evening. We went out to eat and I excitedly told her about all the different things I had been doing. I guess my excitement for what I was doing was evident. When I told Laura that I felt like God was nudging me towards pursuing Active Duty she was quick to confirm that I should start looking into it. This was after I had effectively put all thoughts of Active Duty out of my head when I became a pastor. I wanted to put all my focus and energy on pastoring so I had basically shelved any idea that I would ever be on Active Duty as a chaplain.
That was June of last year. Things were not going especially well at the church and I was torn about whether to call the recruiter. Would it seem like I was running away from a tough situation? I kept coming back to something Laura had told me repeatedly over the years, “You were made to be a Chaplain.”
So in June of 2013 I called the Chaplain recruiting office in Arlington, TX. That started a process that took eight long months. Eight months of paperwork, phone calls, waiting, waiting, and waiting.
But it was those final days of waiting that were the hardest. Last week, on the days we knew the selection board was meeting, Laura and I were so stressed out that we couldn’t sleep. I kept my phone turned up at loud at work so that I could hear if a call came in from the recruiter to tell me the results of the board. I often played out in my head how I would respond at work if the answer came back as “no” and I still had to go back out on the sales floor at Best Buy and sling computers. Those customers would not have seen me at my best.
Unfortunately, bad weather shut down the Pentagon on one of the days where we expected to hear back from the board. So we had to wait another whole day before we would know which direction our decade long journey would take. We hoped we would hear something on Friday because if we didn’t we would have to wait until at least Tuesday since Monday (today) is President’s Day.
On Friday afternoon we both decided to try and take a nap after an exhausting week. I didn’t work until that evening so we laid down a little after one to rest. At 1:54 pm my phone rang. The caller ID said it was an Arlington, TX number. I grabbed Laura’s shoulder and showed her the phone.
“I think this is it.”
I answered the phone.
One third of my life.
One phone call.
The board selected me for Active Duty..
One phone call that answered numerous prayers and gave us a clarity and direction that we’ve lacked since leaving the pastorate in Kansas.
So now we prepare to enter a new phase of our journey and ministry. Something that will bring with it unique challenges and rewards but something that I am trusting God has been preparing me for for many years. We are so grateful that in a year that has been full of frustration and hardship to have received this news. Please pray for us as we prepare for this time in our lives and that God would give us wisdom, boldness, and many opportunities to share his love for however long he would have us on Active Duty.
Army…here we come!