Colonel Stephen Weber looked out the window and saw a red Honda parked in front of his headquarters building. It had circled around the block for a fourth time making the Colonel suspicious. On the fifth drive around, the car parked then a driver who appeared to be an Army officer, sat still seeming to collect his thoughts. So at that moment, Colonel Weber decided to go out to see if he needed help. Perhaps he was lost and needed directions to a specific location. After all, this is a very large Army post. Being new on post could be a very trying experience.
There was sadness in his voice. “I just wanted to get a good look at this building before I leave this facility. I will be retiring from the Army in roughly 30 days. I wasn’t promoted. So since I was passed over for the third time I am forced to retire as you know Colonel. I am Colonel David Ford.”
Colonel Weber invited Colonel Ford in and as they walked around the office building, Colonel Ford talked about his plans if he would have been selected Regimental Commander.
"God is so good. It seemed like He saved this position for me,” said Colonel Weber.
Colonel Ford turned sharply and looked Colonel Weber right in the eye. “Well, Colonel, that’s great for you. Congratulation on your promotion to General, sir! It would seem you are a remarkable officer, but what does that say for how God feels about me, sir?” Then Colonel Ford told Colonel Weber the extent of his 30 year career in the United States Army that included three tours of duty in Vietnam; serious injury in battle, capture and escape from enemy soldiers attempting to kill him. Colonel Ford also told of commands in poor units and his ability to make them combat ready units in a matter of months. His willingness to sacrifice time with his loved ones in civilian and military schools for advance education was stellar. With tears in his eyes, Colonel Ford said his congratulations to Colonel Weber once again then left the building.
Colonel Weber replayed his exchange with Colonel Ford many times in his mind since then. He thought he was expressing his gratitude for God’s expression of love to him in giving him his dream promotion to the rank of General—a position less than 99 in every 100 officer will ever attain. But he realized later that what he conveyed to a fellow officer was arrogance and a presumption that God was exclusively on “his” side. In his own way and typical of too many of we who call ourselves Christian, the unwillingness to think through the implications of what we say to others, our neighbors.
Colonel Weber had no idea as to how his words impacted a fellow officer—perhaps God used them for good in his life in spite of him. But after prayers of forgiveness, Colonel Weber became aware of the need to submission to God’s will; thankful for what he received in a quiet, non haughty manner; and listening to God’s response. This episode did not stop Colonel Weber from pronouncing the goodness of God to him and everyone around him, but he pledged his statements would be thoughtful, respectful and sensitive dialogue—not a glib, insensitive pronouncement unworthy of a Christian.