Friday, March 14

Meritorious Advancement....

O God, though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet Your unfailing love for me will not be shaken, nor Your covenant of peace be removed. You are the Lord who has compassion on me (Is. 54:10).

I thank You, my God, who always leads me in triumphal procession in Christ and through me desires to spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For You have called me to be the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved as well as those who are perishing (2 Cor. 2:14-15).

Turn the darkness into light before me, Lord, and make the rough places smooth. I pray these are the things You will do, for I know You will not forsake me (Isa. 42:16)

A friend, who knows of the struggles that I am facing in these days, felt led to send me a few devotionals that God spoke to her in regards to me. I've removed the devotional author's comments, because they didn't speak words of wisdom or understanding to me as the verses did.

I am well experienced, both in my life since Christ saved me and before, of a world-ending event where it would indeed seem that mountains are shaken and the hills removed from existence. Even since my life was begun to be reshaped and restored through the gifting of the Holy Spirit, I knew that the landscape changes in my life were simply that. Changes.

And I have been disabused of the teachings of the church that being a Christian, saved by the blood of Christ, is a renovation that will lead to happiness, joy, and peace. In the recent year's struggles, where I have discerned a movement of the enemy within the walls of my strongholds, I have been depressed and sorrowed, experienced yet another death of a loved one to whom life was lived in a sound and spiritually fulfilling way, and have had my dearest desires ripped from the beatings of my heart.

I have suffered, not as some have suffered--- like the child whom has battled cancer for the last four years, the mother who had to bury her child because of her death in a foreign land serving people that are under attack from outside forces, and a husband who has fought beside his wife for so long only to see the cancer spread to a life-ending point. No, I haven't suffered as they have and I can only consider the blessings that God has given even in these times for not having to deal in those ways.

No, I have suffered in other ways and have sometimes done so well under the prompting of the Spirit and other times have failed to find that peace that was being held out for me to take. I have imposed suffering upon myself from my foolish actions and I have been convicted by others due to the path my life has taken. And though I have struggled, I have been over and over reminded:

God loves me.

God forgave me.

God called me.

There was a time, when I joined the US Navy, and simply due to my size, I was given the recruit rank in Boot camp of BMOW/SSWL (Bosun Mate of the Watch/Starboard Section Watch Leader). This entitled me to wear a first class chevron on my uniform lapel denoting leader status within the company of newborn wannabes in the Naval service. And with it brought a host of responsibilities and pains.

I didn't sleep more than an hour and a half for eight weeks. I was harassed, being short-sheeted and genuine hatred from those I had to impose sanctions against in the course of our training. I can recall, time after time, of walking into the CC (Company Commander's) office and throwing that chevron down on his desk saying I quit. Only to have to put it back on again because it wasn't a choice, my CC told me.

And then there was always the Captain's Mast, a disciplinary court presided and decided by the CC. Any recruit within the company could bring a RPO (Recruit Petty Officer) up on charges of dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer, or the age-old "I don't like em" excuse. The Mast was always on Friday night, and I spent eight Fridays being 'tried' on various charges. Most of them were of the "I don't like him" variety.

And I always had to put my chevron back on and continue my responsibilities as third in command of the company despite the knowledge that the following week would bring new charges, new short-sheeted adventures, and glares from the others in the company roster.

The night before graduation, the CC called me into his office and proceeded to shock the living daylights out of me. He told me that I would have a long and distinguished service in his beloved Navy because I refused to let go. He tried everything in the book that he could legally, and illegally do, to break my spirit and I just kept going. He told me that of most of the RPOs in the company (there were about ten of us), I was the one that he felt earned the rank I didn't ask for. The CC told me that he was proud to serve in a Navy with men like me and he would serve beside me any day. Then he handed me a piece of paper and yelled for me to get out of his office and stop gundecking!

The paper conferred the next rank, E-2, upon me by meritorious advancement upon the graduation for service to the company above and beyond the call of duty.

That has resurfaced in recent days, that memory. Not because of the training that made me a sailor in service to our country, not because of the few friendships that I made there that endured my entire five years of service. No.

It resurfaced because I endured suffering and hardships, and succeeded to continue to solider on. And in the end of it all, I was given something I had not expected.

Much like today.

I am growing in my understanding and wisdom of God's love and how it will endure in the times of struggle to give me peace and joy despite the stormy skies and agitated seas.

I run for the prize of eternal reward. To have my Father confer upon me the honor of being a "good and faithful servant."


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