By Dev Bradley

I'm back. As I mentioned in my first post, I retired from the US Air Force in 2011. I still have friends on active duty. One of my friends has recently been promoted to the position of Wing Commander. Essentially, this means she is in charge of an entire Air Force Base. We had the opportunity to visit her and her family over the Fourth of July. We had an awesome visit!

One of the benefits of being a Wing Commander is that you have very nice on-base housing/quarters. Kersley and I noticed something about our son when we returned from our Fourth of July trip. We had been home only about a day and JD declared, "We need a bigger house." About twelve hours later, he declared, "We need to dig up the backyard and put in a swimming pool." When JD was asked why we needed to do these things, his response was that our house was not nice enough, plus a newer/bigger house with a swimming pool would be really cool!

Now JD is only eleven, but he is definitely a product of our society. One thing our society teaches us is that our self-worth and our validation comes from how much money we have, how important our job is, how many degrees we have, how big a house we live in, how many cool cars we own, how many cool computers, smart phones and toys we have, how many awesome and powerful friends d we have, and how stylish our clothes are. I'm number one, just do it, I deserve to have the best of everything, bigger is better, more is better, new is better. If we have not achieved this status, then we are nothing. In essence, we are defined by our society and our society is built on lies.

As Christians, we are supposed to be defined by our relationship with Christ. We are supposed to be in the world not of it. This is much easier said than done. Partly because it is so much easier to live by sight than it is to live by faith. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus says, "Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Wow, talk about a mission statement! Is it a mission statement that we are glad to embrace? I think we are glad to embrace itóliving it is the hard part.

At the fifteen year point of my Air Force career, I was striving to get promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Needless to say, I did not get promoted. My dad retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel, so I viewed anything less as a failure. I became really angry. I had done everything the Air Force ever asked me to do. I completed Basic Training. I went to every school and took every course that was required of me. I worked weekends, holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays. I deployed for five months. I had sacrificed. My family had sacrificed. And this is how the Air Force is going to repay me, to repay us? I deserve better, we deserve better.

I was sharing these sentiments with my good friend Lou. Lou is a Godly man who speaks the truth in love. He turned to me and said, "Dev, maybe you should be thankful that you were promoted to major." I wanted to hit Lou in the nose, but you know what, Lou was right. Instead of being thankful that I had made the rank of major and would have the opportunity to retire, I was angry because I deserved to be promoted. I also felt like a failure. I had let the Air Force define who I was. Who was I following? Who was I serving? What was defining my validation and self worth?

I had taken my eyes off my commander, my leader, my Savior. I was following myself, not Christ. After a few weeks of grieving, soul searching, and praying, I came to the conclusion that I was not a failure, but that God was giving me a definite direction in my life. My time in the Air Force was going to end in four years. Lou also pointed out that my validation and self-worth comes from Christ, not the Air Force and not the world. Joshua 24:15 states, "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

Does following Christ, serving our heavenly Father, seem undesirable to you? Why? For me, at least part of me was most definitely "of this world." I allowed myself to be defined and validated by it. I had forgotten that every good and perfect gift comes from God. On top of that, I wasn't even thankful for the blessings He had given me. Blessings are awesome, but our validation comes from God. Focus on God, follow Him. Getting to the point where serving Him is our default setting becomes much easier, and the lies of this world become meaningless. Everything in this life is temporary, but our life with God is forever. So, where do you seek your validationófrom the world or from God? Follow Him, serve Him, strengthen your relationship with Him, and embrace His love, grace, forgiveness, and validation, because in all honesty, this world has nothing that we need. Hang in there; remember we are all in this together.

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Published on 7-22-13