A story is told of Michaelangelo, when asked how he sculpted his statue of David, he replied, “I saw David through the stone and I simply chipped away.”
I believe the Lord is doing this in our lives here on our Western Pacific Deployment (WESTPAC). He is forming our futures, here, now. Sculpting us to become that for which we were created.
But we need His eyes to see it—because the process can be difficult.
It often comes in a grind that chips away when deployed out to sea or in remote areas. We feel it in the system casualties needing repair by our electricians, mechanics and specialized techs. Or in the parts ordered by LS’s (Logistics Specialists), that take weeks to make their way through multiple logistics hubs before getting to ship or a base camp. The CS’s (Cooks) feel the chipping away as they flip another round of Slider burgers each Wednesday for the crew. Maybe you’ve felt it when that snooze button sounds off again in your rack! It’s there, for sure, in the close quarters of berthing when all heads (toilets) are occupied. Often 80 Sailors share three or four heads. The chipping grinds on pilots and aircrew prepping another NATOPS brief (Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures) in order to fly the MH-60 Romeo Helicopters. And in their Maintenance Crew who almost round the clock are working a different “Phase” to ensure that the Helo flies safely and executes its mission.
In the daily and weekly routines onboard we feel it—honestly“Ground Hog Day” seems to come to life! All this chipping away is coupled with great distance from familiar places and the ones who comfort most.
But God, through the grind, is causing us to accomplish more as a team than we ever could on our own. We’re operating a deployed US warship capable of national strategic and operational missions in integrated air and missile warfare. We need His eyes, for perspective, to see His work happening all around us. It’s not just for us, or for America. It’s to ensure the rule of law. To protect those who are most vulnerable. His chipping away has a depth and worth that time will prove.
There are many good days, too, when His sculpting work isn’t so difficult. At Thanksgiving time each year, Navy Advancement Results come out for Petty Officers. It’s a big moment–putting on a first crow to become a non-commissioned officer or “ranking up” to Second or First Class.
After results came out last week, our Captain scheduled an All Hands Call on the ship’s forecastle. We formed up around the 5 inch gun mount. “Pinners” were present, chosen by those being advanced for having been a mentee, close peer, or mentor. As the responsibilities of a Petty Officer were read aloud by XO (executive officer), the Pinners marched forward to their shipmates formed up in front, and then placed rank insignia on each collar, symbolic weight and authority—and evidence of additional pay soon to come!
And we loved it, seeing our promoted shipmates’ faces beam. Bright fresh crows gleaming off their collars. I recall the moment and a prayer comes to my heart, You’re sculpting us now, in this too, Lord.
The Bible says in the book of the prophet Isaiah, “You are our Father; we are the clay. You are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” That’s a promise to hold us on the toughest and brightest days.
The crew closed out Advancement Day with Evening Prayer over the 1MC (intercom).
It was 1855 hours, the time that we collectively pause each day. We gave thanks and prayed. For promotion. For our loved Ones. For our warship. And how God’s Hand is sculpting us–and the ones precious to us back home, whom, in 5 months we trust we’ll rejoin.