A young man who has an appointment to both Annapolis and USAFA called me today. He’s weighing whether, as a strong believer, he should enter military service, given the current state of the country and world. He had many great practical questions about whether he could remain true to God’s Word and still serve today.
My response was a resounding “Yes!” Moreover, after hearing his heart for nearly an hour, I asked him whether, given his strong faith, he would like to see our military devoid of leaders who passionately love the Lord and obey His Word. The reality is that the need for Christlike leaders serving in the military is as strong today as ever!
Recently, I was able to participate in a USAFA retreat at Spring Canyon with a classmate of mine (True Blue ’92). I cannot tell you how encouraging it was seeing and feeling the enthusiasm of these young leaders who soon will be leading our airmen! The fact that the cadets came from various ministries was a great testimony that we are not about lifting up the banner of OCF, but rather the name of Jesus Christ.
As we sat shoulder to shoulder with the cadets, it certainly didn’t seem like 30 years had passed since my friend and I were about to commission. While the specific circumstances the cadets will face today may be different, many of the challenges of integrating the dual calling to our nation and the Lord remain the same, and many of the questions they were asking were similar to those we pondered when in their shoes.
What will it be like in the “real” Air Force? How do I know God’s will? In which career field does He want me to serve? How do I know whom to marry? How do I witness with truth and grace to a culture that in some ways is growing increasingly hostile to the Gospel? Will I stand firm when my fellow service members ridicule my faith? How quickly will we see combat, and where?
While the world seems to be changing so fast, many of our core questions and challenges remain the same, and this should not surprise us, since Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (ESV).
To those cadets and midshipmen who are graduating this year, or in the near future: Be encouraged—you are not the first to face the questions and challenges that will come, and they will come. Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV).
God who calls you will also equip you—and you don’t have to walk the journey alone. Lean heavily on your fellow brothers and sisters and learn from those who have served before you. Don’t let the distractions of your first training or operational assignment pull you out of fellowship. Get involved with a local church or chapel and look up a local OCF fellowship at ocfusa.org—ideally before you get to your new unit—and if there is not one there, start one.
To those who are serving, thank you for serving with Christlike leadership! You are not alone, and your service is not in vain. Stay engaged with other believers. Don’t believe Satan’s lie that you are the only believer left in the military, or the only one going through your current trial. Continue to do your work heartily, and remember you are serving Christ and not man. And don’t forget, your reward is from Christ alone, not your next performance evaluation (Colossians 3:23-24).
To those who have served, please do not think your time as an integral part of the military community is over and that you have nothing to offer those who follow in your footsteps. That too is a lie. Again, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Those wearing the uniform and their families need your experience, wisdom, and insight—your successes and your mistakes, real and unvarnished. Stay engaged, or perhaps you need to re-engage, with those serving in the military community wherever God currently has you! If you don’t know where to start, look at the opportunities at ocfusa.org/volunteer.
To all of us, myself included, remember God is sovereign and He is still on the throne. He still uses broken people like you and me to accomplish His purposes. No matter your age or location, stand up, stand firm, shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and sisters, and say, “Here am I, send me!”