I hear myself say it a lot: “I’m going…”
I’m going to the store.
I’m going to lunch.
I’m going to the beach.
Usually there’s some reason for me to go where I’m going, but often it’s an everyday errand or just for fun. I spend minimal time preparing, then hop in the car and just… go.
But sometimes the “going” has a greater significance.
Our older son Eric, a Second Lieutenant in the US Army, will go to Iraq before long. He has — or will have — orders to perform a specific mission for our country. They call this “deployment.” The very word carries more weight than “going,” as does “mission” compared to “errand.” As Eric’s deployment approaches, the sight of a young man in digital camo can tighten my throat from fifty yards away.
But deployment is not just for the military. While Eric is overseas, his wife Heather will spend several weeks in Europe, teaching English under the auspices of a Christian university. She will have lesson plans and structure to guide her through the course. Heather could have simply stayed home or perhaps gone to visit her parents. Using her time intentionally to serve others in this way, however, elevates her trip to a deployment.
Then there’s Heather’s younger brother Brynn. An International Studies major at Texas A&M University, he studies under a US Marine contract. Brynn left for Morocco last month to spend the summer with a host family, learning Arabic. Very little classroom time for him; mostly he operates in full language immersion, which gives me the heebie-jeebies just to think about. It’s an adventure and he is having a good time, but he remains serious about the higher purpose behind the adventure. Brynn did not just go; he was deployed.
Brent and our younger son Greg went to Oklahoma last week to play paintball in the Oklahoma D-Day reenactment game. Not your ordinary paintball game, this annual week-long event normally pulls in around 3000 players. Brent has been taking both boys (as they are available) to participate for ten years in a row. Yes, they go for recreation, and they always come home with happy smiles—not to mention fatigue, bug bites and some impressive paintball welts.
Even as they play, though, they cannot help hearing echoes of those heroic voices from nearly 70 years ago. Besides, they get to interact with a real D-Day veteran. These experiences have given our sons a great appreciation for the sacrifices that soldiers are prepared to make. More importantly, perhaps, the years of tradition have built increasingly strong father/son bonds. Enough purpose has developed during these trips that, in their own way, they count as deployments.
What about me? Well, surely you don’t think I have just been sitting around. This week I attended the 2011 Christian Writers’ Workshop at Glen Eyrie Conference Center in Colorado Springs. The scenery and atmosphere alone would have made the trip worthwhile as a vacation. But I was looking for more. My family responsibilities and my writing have butted heads a lot lately, and I find myself at a crossroads. I came to the Workshop without orders, without a lesson plan, without a program to immerse myself in. No manuscript in progress, no specific writing goals, no idea which direction to go next. All I could bring was a sense of calling and a willingness to gain further guidance.
That appears to have been enough. I listened to other people who have a calling but must still depend on God to guide them step by step into specific projects. I received godly counsel that helped me make a couple of major decisions about my career. The faculty gave us clear principles and tools not only for storytelling, but for living and writing with faith and purpose. As I had hoped, I made some new friends. We already love and support each other, a community scattered in many directions but, at the same time, as close as the Internet. And all those things are just what I needed right now. I came here with a purpose, however vague it may have seemed to me when I packed my bag.
I deployed myself, too.
As near as I can figure, if I approach each day by looking for the purpose it holds, the Lord can change more of my “going” into “deploying.”
Thanks for reading!
Woo hoo, this is the 100th post I have deployed! I hope each one has served its purpose of bringing you a laugh, a bit of hope, or just a sense of being understood. Thank you for reading.