SITREP 2020-04-6-1 Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   

Chaplain’s SITREP

 Well the chaplain has returned from his “AWOL” excursion, but really I was on “Permissive TDY” to Florida and Texas. I spent some time on the gulf coast of Florida with my entire family from GA and TX and then deployed to Austin Texas on a support mission to assist my daughter. While There I was drafted by the Austin TX Chapter of MOAA to fill in for their Chaplain who was also out of pocket. I want to thank Both “Bud” Kinney and our President David Dupree for covering my six. Now today I would like to talk about family. You see most of us reading this belong to 3 families’. Yes, three families . . .

 The first family is our biological and legal family – those we are related to by blood and marriage. Those family ties can sustain many of us in the days and weeks following a family member’s eternal departure; even though they are still alive in our hearts. It’s true – you will keep them close to you as long as the memories of them are alive. Death cannot take any of that away.

 The second family I want to talk about is the “Military or Para-Military Family.”  It’s a little different than the first, because you join this family – you aren’t born into it. Joining that family was something each of us wanted to do for many different reasons. When outsiders talk about this family they often feel a bit like intruders. But, outsiders know that the military or para-military sees the world differently than the civilian world. They train to higher standards, they insist on a greater degree of professionalism, and they are far more deeply committed to one another. We play in a different league. Every Law Enforcement Officer, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Coastguardsman and Marine knows that, and anyone who has worked closely with the law enforcement or the military services knows that. Pride is the best way to describe it; it’s not arrogance – arrogance is someone telling you they are better. Military men and women don’t have to say a word. Their actions tell their stories.

 What distinguishes law enforcement and military service from almost every other profession is that each individual member comes to understand that the group is more important than any one person. It starts with boot camp or the academy, and gets reinforced at every step along the way. It’s not about you, it’s about us. You watch out for your buddy, and he watches out for you. We can do together far more than we can do individually. The whole is much greater than the sum of the individuals. And when young men and women like the “Boots and Rookies” who sign on for these chosen careers, discover that reality, they are put in touch with something which is largely unacknowledged in the civilian world. Because, the creed for the civilian world seems to be looking out for number one. Things like duty, honor, courage and commitment seem rather quaint and maybe even outdated to them. But, once you discovered the almost mystical power of working with, and for something larger than yourself, much of what our civilian world values starts to look pretty insignificant.

 It’s for that reason that men and women in these families have little fear of going in harm’s way. They do it for each other, and for all of us. They do it because the big picture is more important than any individual. They are a band of brothers and sisters that cannot be completely understood unless you are one of them yourself.

 This same outlook leads us to the third family I want to talk about, and it is the family of God. All of us belong to that family whether we realize it or not. It too, is marked by deep principles that probably seem silly to many of those around us. Yet, Jesus himself said, “Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.A grunt, or street cop might choose slightly different words, but he understands exactly what was being said. Unless you are willing to risk all for your friend, it would not be possible to pick up a rifle or ride into combat in an APC or a squad car. You do it every day because you trust the person next to you, and because you are committed to not letting him or her down. When Jesus talked about laying down a life, he was talking about what he was willing to do for his friends. A soldier’s heart and a good cop’s heart reflects that love of Jesus. But, Jesus was also inviting us to be a part of a different “band of brothers”. He was inviting us to live a life being as concerned about others as we are about ourselves. And in that sense, military and para-military life and the family of God have an awful lot in common. It’s not about me. It’s about the guy next to me, and the guy next to him. It’s about all of us, and what we can do for each other. Especially in the times of tragedy and uncertainty.

 Our society is in desperate need of those kinds of family values not just now, because of COVID-19, but at all times. People sometimes refer to military life as “the service”. Service sounds to me in this case like a noun, because it’s something we belong to, but, actually it’s a verb. Service is something we offer to others. More specifically it’s something we do for someone else. We do it for the guy next to us, our unit or agency, our country, and ultimately our God. You aren’t just in God’s service; you are the one who does the serving. From my own personal point of view, that’s what motivates Real Cops and Marines – and yes, I am sure all the other services as well. It isn’t the clothes, or the haircuts, or the chance to ride in a helicopter or a patrol car or get shot at. It’s the satisfaction of being one who truly serves. And in that sense, it has a lot in common with the spiritual life provided by Christ.

 Yes we are members of the family of God whether we know it or not because it was He who created us. However, one thing I personally do know, is that we are playing in the big leagues when it comes to the things that ultimately matter to God. Jesus accepted and we have elected a life that involves sacrifice, and one that is constantly measured by things like faith, duty, honor, courage, commitment and above all, service to others. That’s what our military and our God both require.

 That’s what “Semper Fi” means – Always Faithful. Not just when it’s convenient or without cost – faithful even when there is pain and sacrifice.

 Always Faithful, not just to some abstract principles – faithful to the guy on your right, faithful to the guy on your left.

 Always faithful, not just until it begins to be dangerous – but faithful even when it means risking or even losing your life.

 Always faithful, that’s the world that we warriors live in. And the world that you and I inhabit, is much richer because there have always been and will continue to be people like us who were and will be willing to live that way. Not just for the guy on the left and on the right, but for all of us as well.

 Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

 When we have finally gone to the Father’s house, I am confident that he will welcome each of us into that household with a hearty greeting of “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Well done to each of us who kept the faith, and who lived a life of service.

 In His Service, God’s Platoon Leader

Chaplain Ray Fairman

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