Say “yes”

My first operational assignment in the Air Force was to Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine. Loring wasn’t the coldest (the flight line didn’t close until the wind chill was 40 below), or the snowiest (184 inches our first year), or the most remote (seven hours north of Boston) bomber base. All those factors combined to make Loring a dreaded assignment. And even in the late 1970s, the B-52s we flew seemed antiquated. The result was that many people quit the Air Force rather than accept orders to Loring. That meant those already there had to stay there well beyond the usual three years. 

But one day, after I’d been there less than three years, I found orders on my desk to a new assignment in reconnaissance airplanes in Omaha. It was a dramatic career change. Instead of the routine of nuclear alert, I’d get to fly all over the world.

Everyone wanted to know how I’d managed to get such a premier job. Long before, I’d put “reconnaissance” on an assignment preference sheet but then forgot all about it. I was as surprised as anyone.

Loring had long been on the base closure list, and soon a personnel team from headquarters arrived to give everyone a new assignment. Amazingly, no one wanted to go to reconnaissance. Even after all their complaining, no one wanted to risk a career change. Everyone preferred to stay with what they knew.

I hadn’t been seeking a new assignment; I just said “yes” when given the chance. Saying “yes” to new opportunities became a habit that led to a life of adventure.

I wonder how often we miss the opportunities God gives us because we prefer to stay with what we know.  

Supernatural experience

This week is Transfiguration Sunday. Pastor Dan will be reflecting on an unusual event where Jesus led his inner circle of disciples up a mountain. There his glory was revealed in a supernatural way.

What constitutes a “supernatural” experience, anyway?

In my last assignment in the Air Force, I chaired the Leadership and Ethics Department at the Air War College, a school for senior military officers. One evening, Jana and I were hosting a dinner party for our department. Our guest was Otto Kroeger, a nationally-known expert on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The MBTI is a popular personality assessment tool. For 15 years, Otto had lectured at the War College helping senior leaders better understand themselves, their families, and each other.

Otto told me that I should become a pastor when I retired from the Air Force. I was shocked. It was the first time anyone had suggested that. I’d always assumed that pastors had to have some kind of “supernatural,” “burning bush,” experience.

In my case, Otto knew my personality “type.” I’d spent a week at his school learning about the MBTI. A lot of ministers have a similar type.

Supernatural?

Two years later, I started seminary.

Most pastors I know haven’t had a “supernatural” experience that led them to ministry, though some have. God leads some through a yearning they can’t ignore. For others, one career door closes and another opens.

The truth is, all of life is “supernatural.” God upholds everything, everywhere, every minute. God is at work in you and me right now.

But we don’t spend enough time in the scriptures, in prayer, or in church.

We’re not attuned to the “supernatural.”