Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Chapter Closes

This day was always in our future, but it seemed so very far away. Today, CDR Robert Dowell, USNR becomes CDR Robert Dowell, USNR – retired. After 29 ½ years of serving in the United States Navy, this chapter of our lives comes to a close.

We married one week after Rob accepted his commission at Newport, Rhode Island. After six years of active duty, Rob transferred to the Navy Reserves. He has served in our community and around the world. We have walked through more nights of “Well, they said they might be sending me to . . . .” then I care to remember. We will go to sleep tonight knowing there will be no more orders in our future.

As I try to process what this new chapter in our life means, I looked to the Bible to read the farewell speech of another military commander – Joshua. In chapter 24 of the book of Joshua, the mighty leader of Israel speaks to the nation at the close of his military career. In typical Joshua style, he does not rehearse the great achievements of his service, but continues to remind them of what God has done for them. After he recounts the many struggles God has brought them through, Joshua presents the nation with a charge:

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you,
then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.
But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

Probably the thing I will remember the most about our military career was the constant uncertainty. When you sign up to serve, you turn over certain freedoms in exchange for being ready to go when called. While I struggled frequently with this lifestyle, Rob always continued to quietly trust in God, even when things did not go well. He always trusted that while we had surrendered certain parts of our life to the Navy, the Navy always rested in the hands of a sovereign God who ultimately decided our course. When Rob was called to postpone retirement and serve in Iraq, he felt it was not the military who sent him, but God. Because Rob had made the choice for himself and our household to serve God, he had the strength to do the hard things.

As a chapter closes and another begins for us, I want to be like Rob and Joshua - so assured in my choice to follow God, that the trials and tribulations that come to us in life do not rock my boat quite so hard. Chapters close and others begin sometimes over years, sometimes in a moment’s notice, bringing circumstances that can challenge us beyond what we feel we can bear. I do not know what circumstances challenge you in life today, but would they be made easier by reminding yourself whom you have chosen to serve?

But as for me and my household,
We will serve the Lord.