Ministerial Musings – “The Right Place at the Right Time”

If I’m being honest, I really didn’t want to spend Saturday where I did.
You see, at 7:00 AM on Saturday, I had to be at the US Navy Operational Support Center in Kansas City for a fun-filled day of paperwork and computer-based training in advance of reporting to the US Navy Chaplaincy School and Center on September 29th. All in all, by about 2:30 in the afternoon, I was of the opinion that it had just been a really miserable day with one bright spot – that being the opportunity to attend a Chiefs Pinning Ceremony, wherein four first class Petty Officers were promoted to Chief Petty Officer, having their rank anchors pinned on them by family members and their khaki combination covers placed on them by current CPOs. Becoming a Chief is an extremely big deal for an enlisted sailor in the US Navy, and something to be quite proud of, so the ceremony was really quite special.
That aside…
As my day was winding down, I was headed to one last stop with the commanding officer. As we were about to enter the compartment for information services, I heard, “Chaplain! Hey, chaplain!”
At first, I thought, Who, me?, and then realized I was the only chaplain around. I turned to see one of the CPOs coming toward me. “Hey, sir, I didn’t realize we had any chaplains onboard today, but I’m glad to see you,” he told me. “I’ve got a sailor upstairs who saw somebody get shot and killed last night, and she’s in rough shape right now. Do you think you could come talk to her for a few minutes?”
Helping sailors and Marines in that kind of need was EXACTLY why I decided, four years ago, that I was being called to the US Navy Chaplain Corps. “Absolutely,” I told the Chief. “Give me five minutes to finish up this last piece of paperwork with the C.O., and I’ll be right up.”
So, five minutes later, I walked into his office, and sitting there was a sailor who couldn’t have been more than about twenty (and truth be told, she looked a lot younger than that). She was crying, and clearly shaken up. Now, obviously, because of the ethical rules of being a Disciples minister, the confidentiality rules of being a Navy chaplain, and common decency as it relates to privacy, I can’t share anything about what went on over the next fifteen minutes in that office, but by the time I left, the sailor’s spirits seemed to be greatly improved, the Chief was quite grateful, and I felt like I had done a lot of good.
As I was driving home, I started thinking about that encounter, and all the variables that played into it, and I realized some things:
1) For reasons that I don’t quite understand, all of the chaplains assigned to NOSC Kansas City are affiliated with the Marine Corps unit based there. That unit doesn’t drill at the NOSC, but rather at the Bannister Federal Complex in south Kansas City. As a result, there is rarely a chaplain at the NOSC on drill weekends, thus the CPO’s pleased surprise that there was a chaplain onboard on Saturday.
2) Had the Chaplain Corps not made a huge mistake with some of my paperwork back in the early spring, I would not have been at the NOSC on Saturday afternoon. I would have already been gained to the NOSC, and I would have been drilling with the USMC unit at the Bannister Complex. But because that mistake occurred, it took me until this weekend to properly gain, meaning that I was onboard on Saturday afternoon.
3) Had the Chaplain Candidate Program not LOST some of my paperwork in the summer of 2013, I would not have been at the NOSC on Saturday afternoon. I would have gone to Chaplain School in the fall of 2013, and been gained to the NOSC immediately upon moving here in February. But because that paperwork got lost, I didn’t attend Chaplain School, and, again, it took me until this weekend to properly gain, meaning that I was onboard on Saturday afternoon.
4) Had Gower Christian Church not called me, I would have ended up at the NOSC wherever I did get called. But because I was called to northwest Missouri, I was assigned to NOSC Kansas City, meaning that I was onboard on Saturday afternoon.
5) Had a whole series of events that took place in 2010, including my attendance at the School of Divinity at Wake Forest University, not taken place just as they did, I likely would never have called up the Charlotte Recruiting Station in the fall of 2010. But because those events took place, I made that decision, eventually meaning that I was onboard on Saturday afternoon.
And I’m sure I could go on and on with different variables that led me to be there on Saturday afternoon, but even this list alone ALL had to happen JUST right for me to be there when I was needed. It’s not anything I or any other human could’ve foreseen – this is something that only God could have foreseen. Because those events occurred as they did, I was where God needed me to be, when God needed me to be there.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

In Christ,
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