Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The most unlikely evangelical

So last Friday I went to a memorial service for a sailor who was found dead in a hotel room all by himself. They haven't come out and said that it was suicide but either way this is already the third suicide/death that I have been a part of dealing with since I came to Norfolk.
While I was at the the memorial service something surprising happened I heard the name of Jesus, repeatedly. I heard of His sacrifice on our behalf and I heard an appeal for all the sailors to put their faith in Him, and who did I hear this all from? A CANADIAN CATHOLIC CHAPLAIN!!!!!!!!! A your freakin kidding me.
Oh how I have been humbled. All the Protestant evangelical chaplains I have been around have been great but the one chaplain who steps up and says forget the norm of Navy political correctness is a catholic chaplain. It was a great lesson learned (sorry all, everything you do in the Navy you always talk about lessons learned afterwards) that I will have a limited number or years in the chaplain corps and that is fine, but my time should be spent proudly proclaiming Christ in all situations.

Another situation has come up in my families' life that I would like to ask you all for prayer in. When my daughter Isabella went to the doctor last month he said that he was a little concerned about her head size being too big. So we went and got an ultrasound taken, and even though the picture results weren't the best (she will have to get an MRI for better results) the doctor was able to see that she had some swelling on her brain. This is symptomatic of something called hydrocephalus which is basically a build up of fluid on the brain that can sometimes cause brain damage. Our next step is to get that MRI but also to have a consult with neurology. We don't know if little Bells will need surgery or anything like that but I know that we could all use your prayers.

Thank you all


Monday, October 5, 2009

Am I a wimp or a good dad?

Ok, I know that I haven't blogged in a long time. To be honest I just haven't been motivated to do so, but to give an update, in the last month and a half I have reported to the Surface Force Ministry Center in Norfolk, met with a few O-6 chaplains who have all given me their idea of what the chaplain corps is and where it is going. I have lived in BQ on base for 2 weeks (looking back on it now I know for sure that it was hell on earth). I have done a DITY (do it yourself move) into our house. I have been told that I was deploying in OCT 09, then no JAN 10, now no MAR 10, so we will see. I have listened to countless chaplains tell me what I must do to further my career (what career I just started!). Finally I have felt again what it is to be a dad who is always there.
I put my daughter to sleep, go and get her in the morning when she wakes, and gladly change as many diapers as I can (well except for the blowouts, Joe you know whats up). This brings me to my title question. I love the ministry that I get to do in the chaplaincy. I deal with really needy people, they have big issues that need a big savior. I want to paint a picture for them of the glory of God so that they can say "this is a God who can meet me in my greatest despair and lift me to joy unspeakable." But that all comes with a cost. This first deployment is going to be 8 months, then 8 months back, then out for at least 6 more. But it is not just the deployments, there are group sails to get ready for the deployments, last minute calls to do this and that, "CHAPS go help all the other families, yours should always be just fine without you!" I asked a fellow chaplain here how his family plans to do anything and he said his wife and kids plan to do whatever and the thought is "dad will be a part of it as much as possible." I don't want to be a part of my child's (and Lord willing children's) life as much as possible. I am her DAD!
I know that many of you might be thinking, what the crap, didn't you think about all this before you went in. The answer is yes of course I did, but I didn't feel it. One of my favorite Piper sayings is a quote he uses from Edwards in which he is describing what it is to try to explain what a relationship with Christ feels like. He uses honey as an example. Edwards says that you can describe honey all you want with vividly clear language (the honey is brown and viscus. It has a thicker consistency) but until someone actually taste honey that have no idea. It is the awwhaa, when the first drop hits the tongue, this is honey! I want with all my heart to make a difference, for the glory of Christ, in this world and to be a part of changing the lives of many people, but I want more to see and be a part of my family.

There is a struggle though, what does the hard road described in the gospels look like? What does it mean to display the sufferings of Christ to a lost and dying world in and through my own sufferings? (Col. 1:24)

Not to sound too morbid but the reality is I will be dead in 40 to 50 years (I am 27), and the question is what will I represent and reflect with my life? Will I show my family the grace and love and glory and justice of God through my consistent presence always, Lord willing, pointing them to the cross. Or will I show all those things through the consistent and steadfast dedication to ministry in the Navy even though it means being away and other focused many times.
I know that you can do both and many faithful fathers have. I think of people like General Van Antwerp who has faithfully raised a family by being a reflection of Christ to them and God has been faithful to bring his children to faith in Him. But I don't know if I can do that, which brings me all the way back to my question, am I a wimp or a good dad?

God Bless
Chaplain Earls