By Chaplain Sean Callahan, Fort Bragg, NC
As unique as the Airborne community is, my unit is part of the Airborne Cavalry Regiment. Essentially, they function as the reconnaissance element of the Brigade: scouting out areas ahead, behind, and all around the Brigade to provide actionable intelligence for the fight, as well as to seek out and destroy enemy reconnaissance elements. As a result, we come with a lot of vehicles and gunners. For us, typical Airborne operations entail not only dropping humans from the sky, but our gun trucks and scout vehicles so that we can be quick and highly mobile.
Part of the Cavalry tradition – hailing back to the days of horses and sabers – is to earn one’s “spurs.” To do this, the Squadron holds a Spur Ride. And what, you may ask, is a Spur Ride? In a nutshell, a test of grit and endurance. For us, it was a long, 36-48-hour mission replete with objectives, lots of rucking with heavy packs, and, of course, copious amounts of “smoke sessions.” In a way, they want to test a “shavetail’s” (that’s what they call non-spur holders) mettle. Do we care enough about the Squadron to learn its history and traditions? Can we endure long days, no sleep, and little food? Can we operate as a part of a team to accomplish our missions? Can we submit ourselves to the whims of spur holders who want to push us to our physical limits? If the answer is yes to all of these, and we Shavetails pass the examination, we earn our Silver Spurs, and forever becomes Spur Holders.
For a Chaplain, this is one of the times where we can really earn our currency in the unit. I’ve found that the greatest opportunities for ministry and growth occur when we do hard things. We learn more about ourselves, others, and God when we are pushed to our physical, mental, and spiritual limitations. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to get there. Other times it takes eating one meal a day, rucking with 80 lbs. of gear, and pushing a Humvee up a hill at 0300 to find out what we are really made of.
Questions like, “How do you stay so nice to everyone, Chaplain? I want to kill all of them right now,” are fairly common. The answer? By God’s grace. I may be frustrated inwardly, but I know that my witness is on the line, and that to be an encouraging, counter-cultural presence, I must rely on God’s strength instead of my own. And that’s the important lesson: it is possible to be a follower of Christ even amid difficult situations; even when I’m not feeling my best; even when I’m tired, hungry, cold, and wet. The beauty of God’s grace is that it’s a gift, and I don’t have to earn it. God freely gives it, and so empowers me to hang tough with the Paratroopers to be a light in this Airborne world – or whatever world He puts us in.
Hard things over and done with, I have some silver spurs to put on my jump boots, but much more importantly, I have some relationships that have gone much deeper than I ever thought possible. And, perhaps most important of all, I’m reminded of just how wonderful, mighty, and gracious a God we serve.
Please pray for:
1. The two Paratroopers who accepted Christ this Quarter. Continued Spiritual growth and healing.
2. Holy Spirit-led opportunities to share the Gospel with Paratroopers.
3. Our rock-climbing outreach event aimed at bringing young Paratroopers to a local rock gym for climbing during PT, breakfast, and a gospel message.
4. Katie’s pregnancy: She’s due at the end of May!
Please pray for Sean and Katie as they reach into the lives of Soldiers and family members in Sean’s unit. While you’re at it, remember our 105 military and 90 civilian chaplains scattered across the nation and around the world.
For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy, and to learn more about endorsement for a wide variety of chaplaincy specialties, email Andy Meverden at firstname.lastname@example.org.