Thursday, September 4, 2014

OnFire #321 In the Meantime Live

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #321 In the Meantime Live

Hi Folks:

Since writing last, I travelled back to Moncton for the sale of our house, and had  about a week of leave before basic training.  Despite the fact that we are now homeless, there have been some real joys during this time. I baptized our youngest son, Mark, along with a teen from our former church. Our other son, Ian, was home. We had some great time with friends, and we’ve visited family on PEI and in Saint John NB. In addition, we dropped Mark off to Crandall University for his first year. A lot has been going on.

Tomorrow I board the plane to Montreal and make my way to St. Jean sur Richilieu for my Basic Military Officer Qualification courses. Since we have already completed about 75 lessons on military life, law, history, and all sorts of other topics over the summer, we will do a condensed course lasting about 4 weeks.  In October, we change to Borden ON for chaplain school, which lasts another month. Then, on Nov 1, I will return to Shilo. Jan will join me and we will begin our life there together.

I will not be able to write during Sept and Oct. Thank you to so many who have written to express their well-wishes already, and who have told me they are praying.  Despite the stress of so much transition, my first two months in the military have been a confirmation of God’s leading, and I anticipate the next two months will go slowly day by day, but quickly overall.

There is a lot to squeeze in, but in many ways I am looking forward to it. I met a number of the chaplains when we were in Ottawa for board selection in February and we have maintained contact. They are super and we will look out for each other along the way.

I’ve been thinking about some advice I have received which I want to pass along. Both pieces are related, although they were given many years apart.

When I arrived in Shilo, my base chaplain told me to relish all the firsts. There would be a lot to learn quickly, but along the way there would be some great memories. He was right – I’ve had tours of the units on base, visited artillery in the field, met many great people, and experienced a lot of God’s grace and favour through them.

In 1989, we sat in our first chapel service in seminary and listened to our preaching prof bring a message called, “In The Meantime, Live.” The sermon was based on Jeremiah 29:4-10. We know the passage which follows really well, “I know the plans I have for you…” (Jer 29:11), but there were important words for us leading up to it.

The situation was that the Hebrew people were taken into exile in Babylonia.  God promised that after 70 years they would be able to return to Jerusalem, but in the meantime, they should not to be afraid to live their lives:

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.... When seventy years are completed for Babylon,…”*

The message for us students was that even though we would spend a number of years in school, we should fully embrace the experience. It would be easy to delay life, to view seminary as an exile of sorts. However, we would miss the opportunity God had placed before us to meet new people and experience new things.  In other words, in the meantime, live!

As I look ahead, it would be easy to wish away these next two months, to simply exist and endure. However, I’m hoping for some great times with the other chaplains. There will be lots of shared experiences and some great memories along the way.

I don’t entertain any illusions about basic training. It is designed to put us under stress and push us to new limits. I do not expect it to be comfortable.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t live in the meantime.  Jeremiah reminds us to live in the meantime.

I can’t claim original material in this letter, but a good word is worth passing along.  Difficulty, hardship, trial or trouble will come, but in the meantime we can still live.

I hope this helps. Be on fire and I’ll connect with you again in November.


OnFire is a letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis.  Married  to Jan, Troy is a chaplain-in-training in the Canadian Armed Forces, and has 20 years of pastoral experience. This letter published Sept 4, 2014. *New International Version, 1984. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or reply, email Blog located at