Fort Greely Chaplain's Corner

I’ve always been a bit of a clean freak (family members and friends who know are currently rolling their eyes). We’re not talking Jack Nicholson obsessive-compulsive, like his character in “As Good as It Gets” with Helen Hunt. But one could say I expect everything to have its place and to function properly according to its design or purpose. Life feels much more grounded and enjoyable when everything is “right.”

For example, when I was a little boy my mom used to carry a change of clothes for me when we went on trips. If any little thing soiled my clothes – even a little spot – I would scream “SPOT!” until mom took the “dirty” shirt and gave me a “clean” one because clothes are supposed to be clean and a shirt with a spot of dirt or food on it wasn’t “right.” Of course, as I grew and matured, I learned that my understanding of right is not everybody’s understanding. I also learned that the world is a messy place, and my expectation or need to have a tidy world where everything is right according to Chaplain Fritts was unreasonable, unattainable, and definitely NOT right.

I wrote recently about my joy in learning that my brother received good news from his oncologist that he was cancer free. I’ve since learned that mere days after that joyful announcement – less than a week – he was told that the pain in his lower back he’d gone to get checked out was... cancer. The same cancer he thought he’d beaten was back again and more aggressively deadly than before. This is messy. This is untidy. This is definitely not right and perhaps even unfair.

Claiming a right or entitlement to “my life, my way,” is a guarantee for disappointment and unhappiness. A major biblical theme running throughout Scripture is that our lives are not our own. This life is not all about me. You and I live by God’s grace at God’s pleasure to love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Doing this consistently and effectively begins with a humble acknowledgement that we have no ultimate claim on what right looks like. Especially when life gets messy.

So, what’s a Christian to do? Here are the takeaways of which I remind myself frequently. First, humbly acknowledge – and accept – that my life is not my own. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20. Second, ensure my priorities are ordered according to lessons learned from Job and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. “As for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause.” Job 5:8. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33. Third, commit myself to God’s cause and seeking God’s kingdom by loving God, loving my neighbor, and meeting God’s requirements for doing good according to Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Amen.

For God and Country!

The Fort Greely Chapel community is a traditional, protestant Army chapel service meeting on Sundays at 1000 with a weekly Communion observance. Interested? Please call 907-873-4397 or “Like” our chapel Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FGAChapel.

Lt. Col. Paul Fritts is the chaplain at the Fort Greely Chapel. He can be reached by email at paul.d.fritts.mil@mail.mil.