Josh Ling, interim supply minister at Macquarie Chapel, is one of those preachers who has a turn of phrase that is often so, so helpful. Some months ago he preached a sermon with the conclusion: Life is Tough but God is Good.
Having just completed the first 4 weeks (Intensive Training Period) of my 21 week New Entry Officers Course with the Royal Australian Navy, I am convinced again that life can be very tough, but God is very good.
Chaplains do the same course as all other new officers, so my last 26 days have included…
· Days starting at 5.30am and finishing at the earliest at 10.30pm.
· No days off – and really hardly an idle minute.
· PT and fitness so tough that a number of twenty year olds have packed up and gone home – and quite a few are injured.
· Pack marching and field exercises that left two in hospital and one temporarily not breathing.
· Sleeping out under a bit of plastic when it is blowing a gale and really quite cold.
· Time pressure like you would not believe ie. getting 18 guys through 4 showers and then dressed and down two flights of stairs in 4 minutes.
· Only allowed to phone home twice and missing my family so much.
· Hours and hours and hours of marching drill.
· Almost 100 hours of cleaning and inspections that could only be passed after ironing your sheets on the bed every night.
· And yes, as I was warned, quite a bit of yelling.
· No time to read, think or barely get the bathroom.
Having said all that, the last 26 days have also been a time where God has been so good.
· Marching past lazy kangaroos that scratch in the sun and wonder what the heck those crazy humans are doing.
· Looking out over Jervis Bay and being refreshed by the ever-changing beauty of God’s creation.
· Parading each morning and watching the flag being raised and being given a ‘quiet time’ to pray and reflect on God’s goodness and my need of His grace.
· Going to a Sunday service run by a Navy Chaplain, where just 4 people worshipped with heart and soul and were reminded of a simple verse: I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
· Being surprised that God sometimes allows us to do more than we ever imagined we could do.
· Being given unsought opportunities to minister to others struggling with the pace and pressure.
· And the greatest miracle of all is that the old body is somehow (with the exception of a few blisters) holding together.
Life can be tough – but God is good!!