Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Faith, Fear and Shelters

"Life only demands from you the strength that you possess. Only one feat is possible; not to run away." Dag Hammarskjold

I've been offline for a couple of days, but I'm back on now, and thinking a little bit about the rockets attacks and my own fears. You see, I have realized something while I am here: I'm not that brave. Don't get me wrong- when it comes to roller coasters or things like that, I love thrills and I love to push the limits. But when there are incoming rockets I realize that I'm not really brave. Not that I have wet my pants or starting crying, but I know that I really would rather NOT have rockets coming in. Just a preference. :)

But there is something about fear that is comparable to faith. I came to Iraq not because I'm brave, but because I've been called over here. First, the call has come from Uncle Sam, but even greater is that God has called me to minister to Soldiers. So, I really don't need to be brave, I just need to show up.

Faith works in a similar way. We don't need to "know." We don't need to be fearless or without anxieties. We just need to trust.

I am here in spite of my fears. I simply go to bed at night trusting that I will wake up. If I don't, then I won't need to walk by faith anymore, I'll get to walk by sight, in the presence of Christ.

That's how faith works. Faith doesn't mean we understand everything. Faith doesn't mean we have no doubts. Faith means we worship God in the midst of our confusion and doubts. Just like I'm here in spite of my fears, so my faith moves forward in spite of the feeble nature of my mind and my ability to believe. Faith means allowing God to move in our lives even if we don't see how it's going to happen.

Along with these thoughts, I wanted to address a question in the comments section. My dad asked about shelters. I'll try and answer that without violating any OPSEC issues: Yes, we do have shelters. If I am out walking around and a rocket or mortar comes in, I should make a dash for a shelter. However, if I am indoors, I should hit the floor and stay away from windows. Rockets and mortars pose two general threats: first, there is the actual blast. If a mortar or rocket hits within a certain distance, the blast will kill you. Outside of that, though, is the secondary threat from shrapnel and other debris. Shrapnel can fly a large distance and cause serious or fatal injuries.

So, if I'm in my room and rockets start hitting, the first thing I need to do is get down. If my body armor is close, I will toss it over me. Otherwise I will roll under the bed, or lay down at the base of it. I'm trying to protect myself from the threat of shrapnel coming in and hitting me.

Here is the bottom line: rockets and mortars are scary, but they do not pose a very great threat to our Soldiers. The aim of the insurgents is incredibly poor, and when they shoot them off, we can almost always see where they came from, which is bad for them, and good for us. They are fired off in a desparate way, and while scary, are not usually very effective.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris--I realize you know this, but I will repeat it anyway, because your most recent post reminded me of one simple fact...

God doesn't call the equiped, he equips the called.

God Bless you and your men..and we have your back!


3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


my most recent comment says it's 5:12 pm--and yet, it says it 7:07 pm here--reminds me of something Chicago once said,

"does anyone really know what time it is?"


3:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your blog is read my many people and it has been layed on my heart this morning to step out and make a few very important statements both about your recent comments and also about things in general. Please bear with me as I follow the lead of the Holy Spirit and take this opportunity to preach. (I don't get that very often) Having been on a mission trip with you, I realize that opportunities present themselves in strange places. ie I would have never imagined we would lead a young Mexican man to the Lord while looking for a Mountain Dew!!

Your recent blog reminds me of the story of Jesus walking on the water and inviting Peter to join him. Peter was doing fine as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. But, then he started looking around and I am guessing, realized he was walking on water. Now, it seems to be one of two things happened (or maybe both) he got scared and spent time dwelling on his predicament causing him to take his eyes off Jesus and ultimately sink. Or, he got conceited and started figuring "Hey, I am walking on water. Cool! I don't need anyone's help to do this--I am doing the amazing thing on my own" thus taking his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink. Ironically, both actions end at the same place--take your eyes off Jesus and sink just like Peter did. In a dynamic environment where Jesus never moves, if you find yourself further from Him you MUST ask the question, "WHO MOVED" for certainly Jesus did not.

Also, remember, Jesus loves you so much that He will meet you where you are, in whatever condition you are. But Jesus also loves you so much that He won't let you stay that way.

There is no person living that has done anything so bad that Christ cannot forgive them and for that person to receive eternal life. Romans 3:23 says "for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." and Romans 6:23 warns us "For the wages (payment) of sin is death, but the FREE gift of God is eternal life. John 1:12 reminds us "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."

Keeping our eye on the horizon and on Christ is not difficult, but it also is not easy. It requires faith, belief and action. It isn't enough to simply attend church or even to attend church and be active anymore than my walking into a women's restroom makes me female. BEing in the Choir, serving communion, reading scripture and/or serving on various committees will not alone save you, for we are saved by grace through faith, and not of works. It isn't enough to simply say "Well, I believe in God" for we know that satan believes in God and yet satan will never see the kingdom of God.

No, to see the kingdom of God, one must confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that He will save them from their sins.For it is with our minds that we believe and with our mouths that we confess.

Salvation is not about joining a local church or about trying to do better. Salvation is like a Christmas gift that Jesus has already given you. Yet, until you open the gift, you will never realize the joy and the blessings of the gift. Opening the gift is easy and very rewarding if one truly wants to receive the gift.

By praying a very simple prayer you too can be counted as a child of God. By praying "Lord, I come to you knowing I am a sinner. I have tried to do things on my own and I have failed. I am powerless over sin and I need help. I believe you died on the Cross for me so that I could have eternal life with you. I realize this is not a gift that I deserve nor one that I can accomplish on my own. I ask for your saving grace that I may become a child of God. I am a little uncertain as to everything I am undertaking, but I have faith that you will show me the way in the days to come. Thank you for loving me so much that you were will to die on the cross for MY sins. Thank you for your promise to make me a child of God for I believe your promises never fail. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."

If you read this posting and honestly and earnestly prayed it for the first time, please tell someone else. Tell your pastor, chaplain or a friend whom you know to be a Christian. Or, you can write to me at and I will pray with you and for you. I will also get into your hands information so that you can begin to learn and grow within this family of God that you have just joined.

And, if you did just pray this prayer, let me be the first to welcome you into the family. We are now brothers in Christ! Enjoy your inheritance! And enjoy the ride--for God promised "never will I leave you, never will I forsake you!"

Paul Smith
Des Moines, IA

4:24 PM  
Blogger Recovering Wino said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog...

11:17 AM  

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