At the end of last month, the U.S. Army Chemical Corps celebrated its 100th anniversary on Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Even though my Soldiers and I were directly involved in the planning, preparation, synchronization, and execution of these events, I cannot take credit for the success of this week-long celebration. I am compelled to give glory to God, whose unseen Hand protected and provided divine extraordinary strength, wisdom, resources, and peace as I worked in His presence and for His kingdom. It was one more confirmation of my own theology of work, which I have expounded on in my book: Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession.
First, let me provide some highlights of our celebration to give you a glimpse into the figurative garden in which I have been placed to do the work of subduing, cultivating, and expanding. (See Gen. 1:28 and 2:15.) Second, I want to summarize how I experienced God’s presence at work during the process. Third, I want to show how this work supplements the work that God wants done to bring shalom to this world. Lastly, I want to encourage other ordinary workers as they work on major projects to depend on God and give Him the glory.
Our week-long celebration this year was similar to what we had done in the past. We had a conference that brought together a select group of senior leaders from around the world. There was a technology exhibit. We also had an espirit-de-corps two-mile run, a sunrise service honoring our fallen heroes, and a formal ball at the end. In addition, the Commandant gave us clear guidance to provide opportunities for our veterans to celebrate with us. We set up a tour of one of our training facilities, a lunch with Soldiers, and a recognition ceremony to honor veterans that served from WWII to the present day. We oversaw the planning process for ten months. We conducted a dozen internal planning meetings, wrote three operations orders, conducted rehearsals, sent and received over 900 emails, made countess phone calls, and had daily conversations. I did not do all of this alone. We had a strong team of Soldiers and civilians working hard at all levels to make it happen.
What people need to know is that during the whole process, I was “leaning on the everlasting arms”. I knew I could not handle this alone. I was constantly trusting God for wisdom and strength to meet the unique challenges and high expectations of the leaders I was commanded to serve “as unto the Lord”. There were many days I was overwhelmed by the thorns and thistles brought on by the curse (Gen. 3:17-19). Then, I would remember that God’s grace was greater. His peace that passes all understanding came just when I needed it. There were more days where I experienced God’s presence clearly through prayer and meditation on His Word. I knew without a doubt that God had equipped, called, and sent me here for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). (See previous article on how I experience God’s presence in government work.)
I am grateful I saw God work in and through me every step of the way. I also am grateful to know that these efforts will have long-lasting impact on the veterans, leaders, and Soldiers who participated in these events. Ultimately, the celebration accomplished a number of important things. After key leaders met to discuss issues and solve problems, they went back to their assignments a more unified team, committed to support the Army as a whole. Our veterans’ recognition ceremony inspired young Chemical Soldiers and leaders to strive to achieve great things with their own Army careers, standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before them. Celebrating our 100-year history will better prepare us to meet the challenges of the future in defending our nations and allies against weapons of mass destruction. I know that our efforts here have directly increased shalom in this world, which is something that our Lord desires.
In closing, I would be remiss if I did not use this opportunity to encourage other ordinary workers as they strive to faithfully accomplish the tasks God calls them to do. Christians work in a variety of fields to meet the needs of people. Some will have a similar experience of being responsible for a milestone celebration as I did. Some will oversee a multi-million dollar construction project, put on a high school musical, negotiate a deal, complete a research paper, or raise a child. However, most employees will find themselves doing jobs that may never bring recognition, but are every bit as important if they are done as unto the Lord.
For all of us, work can be overwhelming at times. Bosses can have unrealistic expectations. Team members may not want to pitch in. We may have to do things outside our comfort zones. These times will require us to totally depend on God to work in us so that He can work with us and through us to meet the needs of people that are depending on the goods we sell and the services we provide. When we see that our efforts have resulted in a successful outcome, we can give all of the glory to God.