November 11, 2021
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38–39 (NLT)
When Operation Iraqi Freedom kicked off in 2003, I was an Army chaplain assigned to a battalion in the 3rd Infantry Division. We spent the first four days of the war in a convoy heading toward Baghdad.
During that convoy, I found myself successively stuck in a traffic jam on a two-lane highway in the middle of the desert, stranded on the side of the road dangerously close to a firefight, and trying my best not to drive into a ditch during a sandstorm.
So many times during that long convoy I found myself thinking in frustration,” How did I get here?”
At the end of four days of craziness on the road, my Humvee along with four other vehicles were lost in the sandstorm, trying desperately to find our headquarters. The only thing we had to guide us was my personal GPS and a radio that could only transmit a few miles.
We were driving through the sandstorm along a rarely used path when a soldier came stumbling out of the haze. She had gotten off a helicopter and been sent in the wrong direction by the crew. Now she was lost, miles away from her unit and unknowingly walking towards the enemy. She had been walking for hours, was exhausted, very frightened and felt hopelessly alone.
But when she encountered us, her strength was renewed. She would not die in the desert searching for her teammates. She was not alone! We pulled her into one of our vehicles and delivered her later that day to her headquarters.
For four days, I had been asking, “How did I get here?” Now I knew the answer. God brought me there. God brought my convoy there. God had called us to that time and that place and was right there with us.
This was a common theme during my career as an Army chaplain … finding myself in strange, crazy, sometimes scary places, wondering how I got there, and then suddenly the light bulb would come on: “Oh, I get it. … God wanted me here!” And, in those moments, I always knew I was supported by the presence of God.
This is not just my story. All military chaplains live, work and deploy with service personnel and their units. Because of this, they often find themselves in strange and scary circumstances, wondering, “How did I get here?” The answer? God called them there for a reason — to remind our sisters, brothers and siblings in uniform that they are not alone. When we are scared, when we are lost and exhausted, when all hope is gone, we need to know that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God.
On this Veterans Day, please remember to pray for our clergy who have answered the call to go to strange, crazy and sometimes scary places, who stand shoulder to shoulder with soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Guardians and Coast Guard personnel to remind them, every day, that nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Chaplain (Col.) Barbara Sherer, United States Army, Retired
Today’s Focus: Veterans Day
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Moongil Cho, Associate, Korean Intercultural Congregational Support, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Sean Chow, Associate, Training & Leader Cohorts, 1001 New Worshiping Communities,
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us pray
Gracious God, we are grateful for our veterans who have given so much in their service to our nation. We know many suffer physical wounds from their service, but even more suffer from moral wounds having labored in circumstances that you did not intend for your children to endure. On this Veterans Day, may we pause to thank veterans for their service and acknowledge the burden they have borne to advance our common good. Even as our veterans gave of themselves in their time of service, may we be inspired to use our gifts, our time, our talents and our treasure as we love our enemies even as you have loved us. Encourage us that even as you sent a chaplain to rescue the lost soldier in the desert and unite her with her unit, may we stand on your promise that we will never be left alone but that we are always united with you. Amen.