Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Facing Disappointment

Well, I finally had a chance to appear before the Navy's CARE (Chaplain Appointment Retention and Advisory) board last Thursday out in Washington DC. Sat before a panel of 6 senior chaplains and one line officer and answered a series of questions relating to my military service, ministry experience, views on the chaplaincy, etc. One of the last questions I was asked was "If you are not selected by this board, what will you do?" I answered that I would continue to seek appointment as a chaplain - whether in the Army or National Guard - because I feel strongly that the Lord has called me to this ministry. If the military door was irrevocably closed, I would likely pursue a career as a hospital or prison chaplain.

Well, it seems as though that answer is now being put to the test, as my chaplain recruiter called today to inform me that my name was not on the list of those recommended for active duty by the CARE board. Although I've heard no specific reason for their recommendation, my hunch is that it is related to my ministry experience, or lack thereof. You see, the military wants its chaplains to have a minimum of two years of full-time experience - preferably post-graduate - and I have to admit that I barely meet that requirement. Even though I've been an associate pastor at my church for the last two years, it appears that they don't consider that as being "full-time" enough, and would like to see more post-graduate work.

Of course, this is disappointing news for a number of reasons. First, this is what we've been aiming for for the last several years, so getting turned down now means that plans must be shelved and priorities rearranged, not to mention the fact that I must now find some other means of full-time employment. Second, it's frustrating to have come so far in the process only to be told that you're not quite there and that you need more time & experience. Finally, there's a tendency towards self-doubt; a wondering if maybe I've been pursuing this for my own reasons and maybe have misinterpreted God's directions for me in this matter.

On the other hand, we know that God is in control of all things, and that nothing happens that is a surprise to Him. We still trust in the message of Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

So what does this mean for us now? Well, after talking with Tamara we've decided to go ahead and pursue appointment as a National Guard chaplain. Not only will this allow me to stay engaged with the military ministry, but there's a distinct possibility that I can/will be deployed with them in the next year or so, which would go a long way towards meeting the "experience" part of the equation. Hopefully, in another year or so I can reapply for the Navy and go from there, but for now we're just committed to seeing where God can use us best in the meantime.

Still resting in His hands.
Adonai is STILL Semper Fi.


Peter Warner said...

Thank you, Pastor Harvey. I've been mindful of your course, so it is good to hear an update, even though it would seem less than hoped for.

You are right to seek a larger view on the situation, and your description brings to mind a passage from Os Hillman, who I read regularly. It is pasted below in the hope that it is encouraging.

Best regards and wishes, Peter Warner.

His Vision, His Way, In His Timing
By Os Hillman
October 27
"Then God said, 'Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about'" (Gen 22:2).
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you would do almost anything to get it? Have you ever gotten so close to fulfilling a dream only to have it disappear right before your eyes? Such was the case for Abraham.
God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. He would have a son. However, Abraham panicked when Sarah aged beyond child bearing years and tried to help God by birthing Ishmael through Sarah's servant, who was not the promised son. Eventually, Isaac was born, who was the promised son.
However, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his only son on an altar to demonstrate his obedience to God. Truly, this is one of the hardest instructions given to one of God's people in all of scripture. It compares only to the Heavenly Father sacrificing His own Son. God intervenes and allows a ram to get caught in the bushes nearby, symbolizing the Lamb of God as a prophetic sign of what is to take place in the future.
God often births a vision in our lives only to allow it to die first before the purest version of the vision is manifested. This has happened several times in my own journey. Oswald Chambers observes, "God's method always seems to be vision first, and then reality, but in between the vision and the reality there is often a deep valley of humiliation. How often has a faithful soul been plunged into a like darkness when after the vision comes the test. When God gives a vision and darkness follows, waiting on God will bring you into accordance with the vision He has given if you await His timing. Otherwise, you try to do away with the supernatural in God's undertakings. Never try to help God fulfill His word."*
When God's vision is finally birthed, nothing will stop it. Our job is to allow God to birth His vision through us His way and in His timing.
*Oswald chambers, Not Knowing Where, Discovery House, Grand Rapids, MI.

capt.whalen@gmail.com said...


What can I do? Is there some one, some board that I can write a letter of recommendation to?

I would be happy and honored to.


virgil xenophon said...


Sorry to read about the sand in the gear-box. Hopefully "Plan B" will work out. The service needs men like you. BTW, have you had time yet to read the philosopher Eric Voegelin on Gnosticism? (My alma mater, LSU is the location of the Voegelin Institute, which has its own web site.)

Hoping for the best for you both personally and professionally,


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear this. Still, your talents, inclination, and drive suggest you're being led in this direction. It would be nice to know "why" sometimes but I'm reminded that His ways our not our ways.
I too hope plan B" will come to pass.

Anonymous said...

God's timing is often not ours. Simple, yet profound. It's hard to work, then be told to wait. When I graduated from Engineering School I asked the Lord to close all doors except the one I was to walk through. I had exactly one interview, and one offer.

I know from personal experience it's difficult to be cut off from the direction you originally wanted to go. But, God has his ways, and we have ours, and the steps of a righteous man are ordered of God.

I wanted a cockpit, but became an Engineer instead. My injuries didn't allow me to complete OCS, and so no cockpit. I'm glad you recovered to the point that you could make it through the APFT.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and wish you and yours a joyous Christmas.


Dana said...

Dave & Tamara,
Keep staying strong. You're in my prayers.
In Christ's Love,