I’m gonna brush the dust of this baby (by that I mean this blog, not a literal baby) and take to the keys with a post of a little different flavor. This is gonna be a bit of a hybrid between update and faith stuff. It might be just the tip of the iceberg for this kind of post (and, hopefully, the last incorrectly used idiom… but you get what I’m saying) so if it already sounds like a drag to you, save yourself while you can… I would. Recently, my dream of becoming an officer in the Marine Corps became more of a reality than ever before and my faith is playing a big part in how I’m approaching this decision.
This past September I was accepted into the Platoon Leaders Class, an officer commissioning program for the Marine Corps. I’ll do my best to explain this a little before I get to the boring stuff… I mean the fun stuff. So, the way it works is in order to become a Marine Officer (which is different than being an enlisted Marine) there are two requirements: to earn a Bachelor’s degree and to graduate from Officer Candidate School (officer’s bootcamp). The college degree part is pretty self explanatory so where things get tricky is the OCS graduation.
There are a few commissioning programs which are how you get to and through OCS. They include the Naval Academy, Naval ROTC (which includes the Marine Corps) and Platoon Leaders Class (PLC), among others. I had been playing the application game (and it really is a game) for this program for about a year before getting accepted, and over three years if you include my attempt at the Naval Academy. There are a ton of intricacies to the application process including the recruiting station’s mission, board dates and contracts (which are all a pain to think about and I’m glad I don’t have to worry about anymore because I was accepted), but candidates are judged on academics, leadership and physical fitness.
What that means for ME (because I’m selfish like that) is sometime during the summers of 2014 and 2015 I will spend two six week periods at OCS which is located at MCB Quantico in, you guessed it, Quantico, VA. You can see the Marine Corps Museum at Quantico when you drive on I-95 between Richmond and D.C., it’s that funny looking building. Once I graduate from OCS in 2015 and graduate from college in 2016 I will accept a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps (my job will be a Naval Flight Officer, Goose is Maverick’s NFO in Top Gun) and I will be in.
So that’s that… and you’re probably scrolling through like this loser still has this much to say? And to that I would say… you right, but maybe you can laugh at how I think my thoughts are actually significant. And if you weren’t scrolling, you are now, and I screwed myself. But back to it…
One of the questions I have to answer most frequently is “What made you want to do that?” Believe it or not, I’m not into having heart to hearts with randos so my typical response is “Ummm… I love America a lot, like, A LOT, like, A LOTTT and I can’t imagine myself ever sitting at a desk for a living,” which are all true things but is only the tip of the iceberg (gotcha this time) when it comes to my heart on this issue.
To be honest, that really is the way it started, but when I really started to dig deep and think about it, God became an increasingly large part of my pursuit of this career. We all are called to harvest for the Lord (Matthew 9:37), faithfully working to grow God’s kingdom by being Christ to those who don’t know him. This is why in addition our “ministries” in the colloquial meaning, our lives are supposed to be a ministry in and of themselves. Everything we do as followers of Jesus should be pointing others toward Christ and the Gospel. But God’s doesn’t tell us to all harvest one acre of land, that would be dumb. Instead, He gives us each special interests and talents to use for His glory in reaching different groups and factions of people (1 Corinthians 12:12).
Somewhere along my path, I realized “hey, God placed in my heart the desire to serve my country and its people, the desire to lead and inspire and passable physical ability. Not only is this something I want to do, but it is my duty to use this set of gifts to reach this group of people for Christ, because if I won’t who will?” I think that last part is something I’ve begun to understand more recently as I’ve begun to start to lead Young Life… “If I won’t, who will?” God created us in a unique and distinct way in that no other person is like us and because the way He molded us he invites us to be part of His plan in different places. We would be stupid not to accept his invitation… almost as stupid as Christmas music before Thanksgiving.
My call to this area is something I’m convinced of (sorry for the dangling prep). I’m being pulled into service to my country but, greater than that, service to God. Any holidays I might miss, family moments I might be away for, or injuries I might suffer, while I’m sure they will be difficult, will bring joy to the Lord because we have a God who delights in our obedience -I’m not saying he wants us to be unhappy, but our “holiness” takes precedence over that. Now that I am on the track toward my dream job, questions are weighing more heavily on me now than they might have in the past.
The reality of this job creates an interesting intersection between faith and duty to country, which some might think of as more of a collision. Some of the responsibilities of an NFO include electronic warfare, navigation and weapon systems. This means that in the future I might be called to execute an order that requires me to drop a 500-pound bomb on a foreign country, potentially killing many people. I mean, the dilemma is pretty obvious. Amidst my deep thoughts, frequently interrupted by the thought of a delightfully cool Cook-Out milkshake just past midnight or other various upscale culinary delicacies, I have come with just one solid conclusion about the intersection.
I’m sure that none of these decisions will be black and white from a faith perspective. From a duty perspective they’re pretty clear, carry out the orders given to you by your superiors. But these are significant decisions, how can my faith, the thing that shapes everything about how I see this world and everything in it, not come into play? It does, in this way…
stick with me y’all, you’re doing great. I get it, I flap my lips a lot, sorry about it. But you’re actually the best, people don’t usually want to listen to me. They’re usually like “Ooh look at him, he’s probably on the way to the dining hall or getting driven somewhere cause he’s a punk and doesn’t have a car. What is he anyways? Is he like Asian or Hispanic? I don’t even know, whatever he is, he sucks.” Just kidding that’s a dramatization, they usually just call me a n3rd and push me into the bushes… but all jokes aside, you look great.
Anyways, faith. decisions. So, a lot of what I’m saying is speculation because I haven’t been through these scenarios, but I’m certain that this internal struggle will happen a few times throughout my career. What I’m confident in though, is that if I know I’m trusting Jesus, and letting him lead my life, those decisions are not ultimately what matters (which probably sounds really cruel). I probably won’t know most of the time what he wants me to do or the “right” thing. Maybe that weapon will protect freedom and allow people to hear about Jesus in a way they might not be able to in another country, or even in that country. Or maybe it could bring destruction on a church or group of innocent people. I might have no idea but what I know God wants more than me not to mess up… is me, and my life and my heart and me trying.
People have a lot of experiences that they think will better prepare them for whatever they face in life. Whether it be, dealing with other people, self-discipline with work or whatever. They feel those experiences will help them traverse the pitfalls of life, the day-to-day decisions, with more ease than they could other wise. For me, as a Christian, I think every decisions come down to one thing: confessing I cannot do it alone and must lean on Christ to accomplish anything and knowing what he has called me to do and doing it. Will I make the right decision every time? I wish. But I know with certainty that as long as I am convinced that I am walking next to Jesus, not an artificial, self-convinced certainty, a full 100%, the day-to-day decision is insignificant next to that, which is the only decision that matters. Because one thing I’ve experience through the years is that those times when you find you need Christ, the hard times, are the times when you grow closest to him. So in the midst of these tough decisions, I’m looking forward to getting real close.
This will be a journey for sure, I’m not ready for it and I have no idea whats headed my way. But as for my call, it’s certain, and the intersection, it’s present, but confidence in Christ is in the midst of each of these but surpasses both.
and I’m half Asian, half vanilla, btw.