The Chaplain's Notebook


We hear powerful words in the Book of Joshua. God tells Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Joshua was a man of faith and bravery. But when he met his first real challenge as a new leader, he needed encouragement. Little did he know, he had a big transition coming! The people of God had been brought to the brink of a roaring river called the Jordan. They needed to cross — but how? It seemed impossible. They were called to move forward, then were told to wait three days. They must have been long days indeed, watching the rushing river and knowing they were to cross at the very real risk of death. This was certainly a test of faith.

The great baseball player Willie Stargell once said, “Life is one big transition.” Humans fear change. We often resist it with every fiber of our being, even when it is for the better, because we love stability. We love for things to remain just as they are. But, like it or not, in life things must change.

Transition comes in many forms: a promotion or new assignment, a new station, becoming part of a blended family, retirement or even experiencing loss. Odds are, if you are going to achieve something worthwhile, it is going to be difficult, if not impossible, without transitions. How you manage them affects your success and well-being as a deputy, as a parent, even as a spouse. Learning how to function well through change is key. We cannot always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we respond to what happens.

Back to Joshua…. The people of God were in real jeopardy. The danger of the Jordan River was not a figment of their imagination. But Joshua found courage in his conviction and pressed forward. And just as they stepped into the raging waters, miraculously, the torrent stopped. As with Moses at the Red Sea, God parted the water and allowed His people safe passage to their destination.

Although rarely so dramatically, God teaches us all to see through our obstacles. Remember, since God brought you the challenge, He has the power to see you through it (Phil. 4:13) — often in surprising ways that we’d never imagined!

Part of handling change is “reframing” it: looking at it differently so our mind’s eye can see fresh possibilities. Believe it or not, you are being positioned to accomplish great things, whether spending time with at-risk youth, encouraging a fellow deputy or spending valuable minutes with family. It could be as big as saving a life, as small as a kind word. We all have more impact than we know.

I believe there is divine purpose in what you do as a deputy, although that purpose is often hidden. You are the peacemakers. Take it from Joshua: The opportunities are endless, and your impact could last a lifetime.

How can I contact a chaplain? Chaplains are available at their unit of assignment, or by calling the Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at (213) 738-3500.