Being on a deployment can do some crazy things to your mind and spirit. Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down, and sometimes you are side to side; literally as the ship is in rough seas.
In the past three weeks I have found that I have gone through the first two and maybe a little of the side to side (but all in all the seas have been pretty calm of late). We pulled out of our last port visit (which was in Salalah, Oman and while I was thankful to get off the ship I don't think I will be returning to Salalah anytime soon)on Aug, 2nd and for the first few days I was really down and maybe even a little depressed because it hit me that I had a little over 4 months left on the deployment. Now I think this came about because I got a little glimpse of what it would be like to be back home. I would be able to get off the ship, able to get online with ease, and able to go outside of my 500ft x 60ft box on a consistent basis. It came about because I knew at the end of the week, Aug. 8th, would be my 7th anniversary and I would not be with my wife. It's those kind of days, anniversaries, b-days, holidays, that you really feel weighed down by the separation from your loved ones. So for these reasons I was a little depressed and began to start thinking and feeling that if I had 4 months left my goal would be to SURVIVE those 4 months!
Surviving means that you don't get fully engaged, it means that you seek to simply pass the time; maybe through constantly entertaining yourself or dry-ly disengaging yourself in the hopes that you will go into some semi-coma only to awake 4 months later at home.
In the back of my mind I knew this was the wrong solution, especially as a chaplain, it would kill any usefulness I would have, it would kill any ministry that God might use me for. So I did the only thing I could think to do in a desperate situation, I ran to the Cross in prayer and boy did God come through. (How many times in my life is God going to have to fulfill Romans 8:28 before I know, sense, feel, stand upon its ever present reality)
Within a day God had completely changed my outlook from how do I survive the next 4 months, to I only have 4 more months with these Sailor's. I have 4 months to share the Gospel with them. I have 4 months to preach God's Word to them. I have 4 months to love them with the love that I have received through the cross. I have 4 months to be used by God to plant, to water, to grow the seed that He has given. I have 4 months to answer God's call on my life. I have 4 months to not waste the pain my family has been through.
God help me!!! Be my foundation and support, be my motivation and willingness, be my satisfaction and joy, be my savior and redeemer.