I have always been drawn to the idea of serving in the military but never knew exactly how that fit in with all of the other goals I had in my life. That all changed when a chaplain with the United State Air Force was standing in the rotunda of Long Hall. After speaking with him, with my wife and praying over it I knew God was calling me into military chaplaincy. After many months of paperwork, I was accepted into the United States Air Force Reserve chaplain candidate program. This program is specially designed for seminary students to complete training during the summer while still attending classes during the academic year.
This past summer, I had the pleasure of spending twelve weeks training and traveling to various military bases with a group of other candidates to see what the work of a chaplain looks like. During these twelve weeks, we were able to see God’s work in so many different ways. It was also a great time where I was also able to grow in faith, and encounter God in ways that I never had before.
While this was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life it was also one that tested my calling. There were times when I was sure that this was not where I was supposed to be and that I seriously doubted my calling into military chaplaincy. It was during these times that I would make sure to turn to Scripture and prayer to look for affirmation that I had made a mistake, but that’s not what I heard. I was constantly reminded that in times of turmoil or struggling God is there and that God’s plans are greater than anything we can imagine in our brokenness.
As with any calling in our life, it is important to go through these times of trial while still relying on God to guide us so that we can come through them stronger and better equipped to serve others. If we just move through our ministry while tuning out God in these times of adversity, then we are setting ourselves up for depression, burn-out, and just overall poor spiritual health. It is imperative that during these times of trial and adversity that we make sure that we are open to where God is guiding us and to be extra aware that while it may not seem like our plan is working out how we want, if we are open to God’s calling in our life and in our ministry then it is ultimately God that is working through us for the betterment of God’s people.
Written by: Tyler J. Bayless, 2Lt, USAFR, Chaplain Candidate, and current middler M.Div student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary