North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose by Matt Dobson

Being in church on Sunday’s should be the highlight of every faithful Christian. If it’s not, you need to find out why? For me, it’s a time of restoration, a filling-up, and a time of worship. But a great part of my Christian duty takes place on days other than Sunday. My pastoral activities are not restricted to my own church and Sunday preaching and teaching. I’m on the road so much of the time that many of my most telling opportunities for witnessing to the power of Christ happens at community events, airports, at dinner, in meetings, at sports events, and while participating in road races, indeed anywhere and everywhere.
For example, I recall an experience I had returning from training at the U.S. Army Chaplain School in South Carolina. My buddy dropped me off at the Columbia airport near Ft. Jackson in plenty of time. But when I got to the ticket counter I found my flight was going to be delayed over 45 minutes. The ticket agent told me I would probably miss the second leg of my trip back home. Understand, I had been away from home for 6 weeks and was missing the quite, serene, moonlit nights in the country. A small part of me wanted to fret and I actually did for just a few minutes, then I prayed God would help me make the connection on time. I got help from God alright, but there was a task to accomplish along the way.
The plane arrived and all the passengers, including me, quickly boarded. The pilot made up for lost time and as we touched down in Atlanta it seemed I just might make my flight. As I scurried off the plane, an agent told me the departing flight to Pensacola had changed gates. While I tried to hurry up the escalator, I sensed someone on the step behind me. Then, a voice, “I’m sure glad to be going home!” I looked to my right and it was another soldier. We shook hands and I said, “Me too!” “How long were you there?” he asked, thinking I was returning from the war. We were both wearing ACUs (Army Combat Uniform). So, I told him I had been in training at Ft. Jackson for 6 weeks. He began to tell me how he had been deployed for almost a year in Afghanistan. He leaned forward and noticed the cross insignia on my uniform. “Are you a chaplain?” he asked with excitement. “I sure am. I’ve been at the Chaplain School.” He asks me, “Can I talk to you about something? My Mom passed away 9 days before I deployed. I was really close to her. And two weeks ago my sister told me my Dad has cancer. I’m coming home to this and I just don’t know how I’m going to handle it.” I could feel the heartbreak in his voice and I could tell he sincerely was afraid of how he was going to handle all the different emotions. I looked ahead and noticed we were almost at the top of the escalator; 15 feet away maybe. I told him, “Let’s pray right here Soldier.” I knew it had to be a short prayer. In fact, I wouldn’t have time to say all that was on my heart before we would have to step off. But I said it anyway. I put my arm around his shoulder, closed my eyes, and started to pray.
As I prayed, the Spirit guided my words and helped me intercede for this young man. I knew the escalator was moving because I felt it. And I knew I would have to stop praying, open my eyes, and step off. Or I could keep my eyes closed, let the Spirit continue, then trip and fall on my back side! I chose to keep praying, with eyes closed, knowing any moment the escalator would end. It never did. I finished my prayer which had to be all of one minute, at least 45 seconds. I finished the prayer with a strong AMEN and a strong grip on the shoulder of this young man. I opened my eyes and to my amazement, we were in the exact same spot as when I started to pray. My friends, you call this a divine appointment. And one of the many reasons you should be ready for every opportunity God allows. The Bible says, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season…encourage people with good teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). God knew my jet from South Carolina needed to be late. God Knew my departing flight needed a gate change. God knew I needed to take the escalator instead of the elevator or stairs. And God knew this young Soldier needed the spiritual encouragement of a fellow Soldier.
Before we scampered off to our different gates he said, “You know, I was just thinking yesterday. God may be leading me to train for a Chaplain Assistant position in the Army.” “Well there you go! You know God will be with you as you go home and He’s already placing in your heart a new purpose in helping others. You’re A-Okay Soldier, God’s hand is on you” I told him. “Thank you Chaplain, that means a lot!” And with that, he walked away. I have no doubt, that the experiences this young man has had to endure in the last year will prepare him to help someone else that crosses his path.
If you’re serious about finding your purpose in life, in helping others find theirs, and want opportunities to do good toward others, God will certainly give you these experiences. Just pray God gives them to you. Look for them and they will happen. Keep within yourself a sincere desire to help change people for the better. Try to influence people because you love them and wish them well. There is a soothing power that comes upon you when you consider the feelings of other people. You can be a part of the road to God with all others. Help them to know God wants what’s best for them and that to live descent, honest lives is good for them. Never force God on anyone, but lead them down the path toward Him. God will draw men, women, and children to Himself (John 12:32). Your job is to be faithful and honor God in all that you do.

• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Jan 6 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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