I am overseas in a middle eastern country on active duty orders, if I have not already made that known. I volunteered and it was a fight to get on the deployment to start. Even literally getting here was a fight. While those challenges have come and gone, it was surprising to me to have faced difficulty every step of the way, as I reflect upon the last six months. The volunteer process began a year ago this month.
Yet, when I think back farther, it was not with ease that I enlisted into the United States Army Reserve either. I’ve chronicled five of my six contracted years in the military through intermittent blog posts and videos on godavidstrong.com. A fair portion of my life has been lived out publicly with people I do not know personally for reasons I make clear on the about page of my blog. This “project” was to serve as a catharsis along this period of my life for myself and others. Perpetuity, legacy and teaching are important to me. And I believe that the best teacher is experience with living examples. So I made a choice to expose this part of my life, and thus share my strengths and weaknesses for people to see and make a decision for their own lives about becoming and being a soldier.
February 5th, 2015 marked the start of a new year for me as a soldier, and also the last of a journey for which I could never have been fully prepared. Although I know I could have prepared and maintained myself in far better ways up until now. There is a sort of bittersweet emotion to all of this. I think it is only true because of what I’ve gone through.
I grant that I hold no merit from combat and subsequent trauma to bemoan, or even great excess of accomplishment in might or courage that would rally the troops and move the American people. What I have done was wholly a personal endeavor of relative challenge to me to do what I once thought I would never do because I once believed, far prior to enlisting, that I could never accomplish a military career.
By joining, I wanted to face fear and overcome it. That is the truth. I wanted to face evil and danger and say to it with my actions, “May you never harm another again,” and then watch it drown in the depths of the ocean. I wanted to see myself stand in some of the world’s harshest environments to aid the cause of liberation from evil and suffering. And in doing all of these things look to see how God is transforming me into more of the champion of his heart, that I know I was prophesied to be by my mother.
But what I realize today are at least two things that are uppermost in mind: A. My whole career was more about the inward life, as opposed to my outward fulfillments in the military. B. In a general outlook on my life as a whole, there has not been one profession to which I have been assigned to take up permanent occupation for the cause of Jesus Christ–not one thing so far. (Mind you I know that I’d never allow myself to ever stay with anything beyond a ten-year period of time anyhow. I do what I do and then I move on, maybe to come back later to do a little more of what I started. This is good and yet sometimes happens to a fault.)
And so I am in a place of loud silence that requires me to arrest my efforts at doing, and surrender my heart to what feels like reckless abandon to the unknown. This is what I fail at doing. I know that if God says stay still, then what comes thereafter is only good. In fact all his words are trustworthy, of course. But I am a human being. So I need his strength to help me stay put and not devise a plan of my own.
In the past year alone, I have repeatedly, written, added and amended two journals full of my fears, hopes, desires, iniquities, pains, and rejoicings, only to be told this year, “be still and wait.” Since having arrived to another middle eastern desert, I have made no decision to do anything about my future–nothing permanent and in the form of career change, seeking higher education, or toward relationship and marriage. I have done nothing because I have been told to do nothing but listen and wait. The question that I would naturally raise to this kind of instructional command, I have stymied so that I gain no satisfaction from trying to regain control of my life. Coming here was a step toward surrender. I am being still. And I am waiting.
What have I accomplished for the kingdom of God through this enlistment? And what would be gained by re-enlisting? I do not know and it scares me.
This is my personal reason for having frozen in my tracks. I have joy underneath it all. But I confess, I am somewhat listless, and do not want to be. Yet, I will seek the face of the Lord and wait on him while I lean on him to wait even longer. I will take joy, even in the dryness of this discipline and acknowledge his goodness and mercy. I will not complain.
My name is David, and I will live up to the legacy of my name and the calling of God therein.