Chaplain Corner’s Article
“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength”– 2 Timothy 4:17
When Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, Paul was imprisoned and facing death as everyone who supported him in the ministry had abandoned him. Paul had given so much to so many to now find himself without any support. He writes to Timothy encouraging him to keep his faith in God because God was still by his side while everyone left Paul. God never left him nor forsook him. Paul speaks of the strength God gave him to endure the disappointment of those who he thought has his back. God gave him the strength to withstand the unsanitary conditions of his confinement and peace to accept his impending death. Even in Paul’s worst moments, he found the wisdom to acknowledge where his help came from. Just as David in the Psalm 121:1-2, “I look unto the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
The importance of recording the biblical stories is to let us know, 2,000 years later, that there is nothing new under the sun. The same we, in 2021, can feel abandoned and alone by those who we trusted and supported the most is the same experience of those who came before us. The same disappointment and unbelief that we feel, they also felt. However, they understood no matter the circumstance, and even in their lowest moment, God was there to support them and provide them with the strength and sustenance needed. No matter what is going in our lives, we must never forget we are never alone, for the God of those who came before us is the same God who is here for us now. Never give up or lose faith because the Lord will stand by your side and provide you strength.
Rev. Takana L. Jefferson, Chaplain United States Navy
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”– Romans 12:21 NIV
Paul is sharing these words of wisdom with the Romans in dealing with people. He reminds them earlier in the chapter of the importance of not taking revenge as vengeance belongs to God and directs them to treat others with kindness. The natural expectation of someone who has mistreated people is to receive the same treatment. However, it is an unexpected human response by being kind as it causes them to reflect on their actions. It begins to make them wonder why they did not receive the same evil they dished out.
Paul continues to tell them to love, feed, and meet the needs of the one who has mistreated them. He concludes the message by telling them do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. To not take revenge in one’s hand can be a difficult pill to swallow. However, the most significant testimony can come out of not allowing others to change who you are as a person. Having the ability to maintain one’s character and integrity in a difficult situation is the best testament to self-control and growth.
One cannot control the actions of others, but one can control theirs. Jesus provided the perfect example on the cross when he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Often this is the case with those we encounter who are unkind. The actions may come out of a place of bitterness and personal hurt. There is a saying that hurt people, hurt people. We have to look beyond the action and look at the heart. The same way God does for us. None of us are perfect, and we all have our hurts and disappointments. Therefore, it is imperative to self-reflect and to provide the love, kindness, mercy, and grace we would want to receive. In the words of the remarkable Mrs. Michelle Obama, “when they go low, we go high.” We must find a way to show others the love they deserve despite themselves because, with God, all things are possible.
Blessings, Reverend Takana L. Jefferson, Chaplain, United States Navy
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV
The writer of this extremely popular text begins with a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. Then the writer starts to name all the events in life that there is time for and season. It almost appears as if the writer is looking back over their life and reflecting on all they have seen and experienced. As a result of the reflection, we have Ecclesiastes chapter three. Unfortunately, the text usually is heard at a funereal. I think there is so much more we can learn from the reflections of the writer.
One, life is precious, and every day is truly a present. It is in the moment we create our memories and future reflections. How amazing if we took more time to be present and not worry about what is coming next. We are writing our eulogy from the moment we awake. It is a matter of what do we want our eulogy to say? While gathering, things are excellent, and yes, we should have a legacy to pass down to our future generations. Have we become consumed with gathering and obsessed with the future? We should be careful not to allow our collecting to overtake the enjoyment of our present relationships.
Two, everything has a beginning and an end. It is how we view the changes and transitions in our lives that matter. We all know that we cannot stay in the military forever, at the same duty station, or be in a particular position for an extended period. What does life like for us who are experiencing a transition in our journey? Are we excited about new opportunities, adventures, and relationships? How do we embrace the next phase of our lives with newfound excitement?
The writer appears to write out of their personal experience. I encourage us to take this text and come from our personal experience and a place of excitement and joy as we know the opportunity for the impact we have for each season in our lives, even if it is only for a moment! We never know what the seeds planted today will yield in tomorrow’s harvest.
Reverend Takana L. Jefferson, United States Navy, Chaplain
YOLO with Wisdom
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 NRSV
When one thinks of YOLO or You Only Live Once, it is often in the context of doing something or an action that is dangerous or may end one’s life quickly. In the context of this scripture, I am not referring to living life haphazardly because that means one would not use wisdom. What I am referring to is living your life with purpose, enjoyment, and wisdom. For it is in the balance of life that we become our true selves. The writer reminds us in verse ten, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol to which you are going.”
The writer is not referring to finding something to do to keep busy but suggests whatever one can do—one should pursue. Whether that is starting your business, you always wanted to try, go back to school, earn the next level degree, or retire and travel the world. Whatever it is that you have set in your heart and mind to achieve, then as the Nike commercial says, “Just DO IT!” What are you waiting on because life is short and fleeting? Once we are in Sheol, known as the grave, there are no second chances, there are no do-overs, but while we have breath in our bodies, clothed in our right minds, and have the activity of our limbs, it is time to YOLO with wisdom.
It is time to find the purpose in the thing or idea that we always wanted to try but were too afraid. I have learned in this pandemic if I had not learned before that tomorrow is not promised nor the next second, and the air we breathe we have taken for granted. We do not know what will happen to us. So, the time that God has given us, we should use it wisely. Take this moment as a time of self-reflection and to see what changes “I can make to live a life of purpose with wisdom.” How can I make each moment on this earth matter in its brevity with the skills that God has so graciously given me? Finally, in the wisdom that we learn to live our lives to its fullest potential that is pleasing to God and in community with others. I end here as I say go in peace, purpose, and YOLO with wisdom.
Reverend Takana L. Jefferson, Chaplain, United States Navy
Chaplain Corner’s Article March 2021
“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
The story of Queen Esther saving her people is one of my favorite biblical story as it shows the history of women contributing to the betterment of their people and they made their voices heard in spite of possibly losing their very life. Often perpetuated through history men were lifted up as being the main characters in the bible. However, the story of Queen Esther is one of many who reaffirms that was indeed not always the case. Women have been at the forefront of every portion of history be it biblical or in the building of nations and countries.
Esther was placed in the King’s palace after the death of his wife by her cousin Mordecai. The king became smitten by Esther and she became his wife. There came a time when a decree was issued to kill all of the Jews. Mordecai went to Queen Esther to urge her to speak up to save her people. Mordecai reminded the queen that just because she was married to the king does not mean she was safe. Surely her and her family would die and God would send someone else to deliver the Jews. Mordecai continued to share with the queen that her entire life and purpose was for this moment right here. God placed Esther in a position of authority and gave her a seat at the table, not for herself but for others as well. He did not want her to forget it. Queen Esther had a lot to lose, including her life. However, she ultimately understood her purpose and stated before speaking to the king “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” By being fearless and realizing the favor of God was upon her for such a time as this, she saved her people.
I am reminded this month and every month the importance of women being a part of our history and legacy for such a time as this. There is not a moment in our history that women have not sacrificed, dedicated, and served for a purpose greater than themselves. I encourage us all today as we continue to serve and sacrifice for our country that we remember we have been chosen for such a time as this.
Reverend Takana L. Jefferson, Chaplain, United States Navy