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Pastor’s Perspective 01-08-19

When Saddam Hussein’s army invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, I was stationed here at Fort Bragg as the chaplain for one of the Army’s newest artillery battalions: the Multiple Launch Rocket System. My unit’s capabilities were perfectly suited for that environment so I found myself in the desert sand of Saudi Arabia later that same month. It took months for us to build up the necessary forces in the region before we launched our attack to liberate Kuwait. It was both challenging and boring waiting to see how it would all unfold. Those of us on the ground knew we were probably going to have to take care of business before we could come home. And we were all ready to come home.

We finally got word that we had transitioned from Desert Shield to Desert Storm. For days we watched our military aircraft fly overhead heading north to “prep the battlefield.” And then it was time to launch the ground offensive. I’ll never forget how I felt. We had learned that with Iraq’s chemical weapons capabilities, we could expect significant numbers of casualties. I honestly didn’t know if I would see my wife and children again. Or if I did, what condition my body might be in. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a more palpable adrenaline rush as I did when we crossed the border into Iraq. Still, I had a remarkable sense of peace. Part of that peace came from my confidence in our leaders who were sending us into combat, and in the men and women in uniform who were on the ground with me and in the air over our heads. But I knew my real peace came from knowing I was right where the Lord wanted me, doing what He had called me to do, and that my life and future was in His hands, not anybody else’s.

This memory from 28 years ago came to my mind as I continue to process my first sermon of 2019 and the three challenges I laid out for our congregation in the New Year. Big challenges that will require us to step out of our comfort zones in new ways. Being in the center of God’s will often entails risk and uncertainty. But He has called us to take care of business – His business – before we can come home. And He promises us His peace as we trust His leadership and do His will. A peace that comes from knowing our life and our future is in His hands. If any church can rise to the challenges before us, it is this church.

See you Sunday! ~ John