Returning to Maxwell Air Force Base

Published 12:02 am Monday, February 5, 2018

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” — Galatians 6:9

I wasn’t sure if I would make it there. Day after day, I waited for an email. I was told things would work out, but I was getting nervous. Two days before departure, the orders finally came in: I was headed back to Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Ala., for six weeks on Jan. 7. It was hard to leave but I knew this was the next chapter in my journey being an Air Force chaplain. The six-hour drive wasn’t too bad; neither were the first few days of class. I’ve met some great people. There are 23 other chaplains here training with me. It is amazing to see how God has called these men and women to serve the everlasting kingdom of Christ in such a unique capacity.

On Wednesday during my first week, we were dismissed for the day around 3:30 p.m. With a few hours of daylight left, I decided to go for a run. At Maxwell, there is a 1.5-mile track known as “The Paperclip” because it looks like a gigantic outline of a paperclip. I was familiar with how to get to the Paperclip — where I am staying for the basic chaplain course is directly across the street from where I was initiated into the Air Force almost two years ago.

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As I was walking to the track, I heard, “Get your [rear] (PG-rated version) in line! Shape up! What do you think you’re doing? What are you looking at? Do you think this is funny?”

The questions and insults just kept firing away, one after the other. To my right I saw a group of 12 to 15 trainees in marching formation with one MTI (military training instructor) getting all up in their personal space, letting them have it! She was “cordially inviting them to the military” as I call it. That’s when it hit me — I was exactly where they were two years ago, being yelled at by the same MTI, but now I was on the other side. Did I expect to see something like that again? Not that soon to returning to Maxwell.

I continued walking by (rather quickly now) and made it to the Paperclip. As I ran, memories flashed through my mind. I couldn’t believe I was on the same track as two years ago, except this time I was running in peace and not being yelled at! I began to tear up…and all I could do was one thing: Give God the praise and  glory He endlessly deserves from me for bringing me to this point in my life.

There are times and seasons in our lives that are difficult. There are many days and months when we often ask, “Why, Lord? Why is this happening? What are you trying to teach me?” How easy is it for us to become bitter about the trials and difficulties we face? How quickly do we want to give up when things are a little too inconvenient for us?

I encourage you this month to give God praise for the present season you’re experiencing. Give Him thanks that you have not gotten to this point in your life by chance or coincidence, but according to His divine, holy, and infallible plan that will never fail. Why? Because He loves you, past, present and future. He has wonderful things in store for you (Jeremiah 29:11-13). It may not feel like it at that time, like it did for me two years ago on the Paperclip, but I am glad I didn’t call it quits. Jesus didn’t quit on you and considers you to be His prize that He has bought in His life, death, and resurrection. There is always a calm after the storm — let Jesus be that for you yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is the Rock on which we stand. Lean on His everlasting arms to get you to that next dot in your life, because He is right there with you, every step of the way.

The Rev. Seth Duhs is the pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian Church.