During “change” time in the Army I find that my mind takes me on a journey back over my appointments. Inevitably some appointments will stand out; some because of blessings experienced and the joy of the appointment; some because of sorrow at disappointments and failures. When I am reminded of my disappointments and failures I often ‘rehearse’ the what if’s and if onlys. When I am dwelling long in this land of memory I am especially grateful for God’s promise, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) This promise helps to mitigate the longing to go back and “fix” mistakes or “redo” the past. We all know that hindsight is 20/20 but I am discovering that, with spiritual maturity, hindsight can also be painful and uncomfortable.
In retirement there are times when I feel like an old war horse that has been put out to pasture but still responds to the familiar call to arms. Move time is just such a familiar ‘call to arms’ to me…this old war horse…as I watch folks on Facebook make their preparations. I’m finding that my mind drifts into the past usually landing someplace that I would like to go back to in order to clean up my mistakes and missed opportunities. The reality is that we only have one chance to respond in any given situation. (Yes, sometimes we have opportunity to correct that response but too often what we’ve missed we’ve missed.) So move time comes and in the new appointment we look back and begin to see the things we missed or hear the things that we’ve said or did and wished with everything in us that we could go back and make corrections. While that ain’t gonna happen I have learned to pray, “Lord, bring out the good for those who had been under my care as well as for me.”
God is so good. While we cannot go back for do overs we know that in every situation the Lord is always right there with us in every situation ready, willing, and waiting to bring about resolutions that are for our good. “For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life—pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures—and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair. Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not “How am I to find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by him?” The question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be known by God?” And, finally, the question is not “How am I to love God?” but “How am I to let myself be loved by God?” God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.” (Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming)
One thing I always appreciated about changes of appointment is that it felt like I was given a clean page and a new chance to better serve my Lord and better fulfill my calling. So to all who are still ‘in the war’ be reminded of how much you are loved by the Almighty, the one who created you and gave purpose and meaning to your life.
All my work is for the Master, He is all my heart’s desire; O that he may count me faithful In the day that tries by fire! (Albert Orsborn)
One final reminder from Nouwen: “I know that I have to move from speaking about Jesus to letting him speak within me, from thinking about Jesus to letting him think within me, from acting for and with Jesus to letting him act through me. I know the only way for me to see the world is to see it through his eyes.”