It's the day after Christmas and I have decided to write one more blog entry and then close it down (for now). It has been 4 months since I returned from Afghanistan, and I've had plenty of time to reflect on the past year. In fact, sitting here with family in my own home makes quite a contrast to where I was one year ago. I spent time thinking back to where I was and what I was doing on Christmas and New Year's 2009, and I realized how thankful I am for being home this year! I still know a few Chaplains over there now, and I can sympathize with them for being away from family on the major holidays, but I know how fast it goes by and I know they will both be home with their families soon, too. I keep them in my prayers often.
The transition back into my old groove was harder than I anticipated. I took some time off initially and then went back to my old job as a counselor at a local hospital. I really struggled in my spirit because I did not want to be there. I was so certain that God was going to open a "new" door for me once I returned. I was dreaming of ministry opportunities in churches all over the country (even sent out a few resumes), but nothing panned out. I was disappointed. In fact, I have to admit that I went through a period of spiritual disappointment with God. Phillip Yancey's book by the same title was helpful to me, as was Timothy Keller's book, The Prodigal God. I could relate to the older brother in the Prodigal Son story, the guy who is angry with "dad" for not rewarding him for obedience and faithful service. I was that guy! I was upset with God for not rewarding me for my service to Him. Instead, I got silence from God and the opportunity to go back to my old life -- the very life I was anxious to leave behind when I left for the deployment in the first place.
But God is faithful. He was slowly allowing me to reassimilate into my olf life (family, home, job, church, etc), and it takes time. Too much change too quickly would have been a bad thing for me, and God knew it. He was allowing me to heal and grow. Which, I am proud to say, I think I have done. I made the decision to begin looking for a new church home (for reasons that I will not go into here), and so we will begin that quest in the New Year. But other than that, things are pretty much back to normal. Well, a "new normal." I am still doing counseling at the hospital, still in the Army Reserves, and still taking seminary classes on-line. But I can see light at the end of the tunnel now and maybe a few new opportunities for me at the hospital where I work. So I have learned that God's silence may not be a bad thing. He wants us to be obedient and confidently move ahead with His Will -- even if we cannot hear Him at the moment. I have been a Christian long enough to know that God loves me and will never leave me nor forsake me. He has a perfect plan for me, and all I have to do is believe it, walk humbly with my God, and wait patiently for Him. (I never said it was easy, but it can be done).
So for now, I will add a few final pictures from this Fall and say Goodbye. (The State Fair with the kids, kissing my wife, my daughter and her new puppy, at a Purity Ball with my oldest daughter, and at my friend Stephen's wedding). Thank you for following along with me over the last two years. If and when God has another cool adventure for me and my family, I will get back on and start the blog up again. But for now, all good things must come to an end. (I found a company that will help me turn this blog into a book, so I'll keep these memories in hardcover print forever. Maybe lay it on the coffee table, who knows?). I hope you all have a great 2011!
Thanks again..... Chaplain Darren