With sweaty palms and a racing heart, you wait. With fidgeting feet and a silent, fixed gaze, you wait. That moment which you have been holding your breath for has finally arrived. The news could be exciting or all together horrifying. Yet, in the unknown places you remain—simply waiting to hear—if it’s terminal.
The term “terminal” is often associated with life threatening diseases, but I dare argue that such a term is also fitting in the midst of major life change. As a military wife of nearly a decade, such feelings surface deep within the soul on the cusp of yet another move. The location ahead may be thrilling. The description of life ahead may bring a smile to one’s face as many happy days can be seen ahead. Yet, even still, there comes a time when one must then say good-bye to the present reality around them.
For however long, the military family has prayed, toiled and bent over backwards to quickly establish roots for their children and help to soften the blow of yet another transition. Whether that move is across America or across foreign seas is irrelevant. The feeling of deep loss and ache of leaving cannot easily be pushed aside or smiled away. No, this location, these beloved friends, this current route to the grocery store or favorite park—are all now seen through the eyes of impending good-bye. And as this seeps into the hearts of friends and colleagues, the military family watches as others begin to naturally pull away—as this reality is indeed unfolding and the pain is felt on all sides.
Often times, it is in the darkest places that a military family will find themselves feels utterly alone—away from family and their closest confidants they wait. Time zones, zip codes and other such differences make it challenging to keep in touch with those dearly loved in previous locations. Yet, the God who made them—sees them. Right where they are—God Almighty sees them. In the midst of the sorrow of terminal change of location, friends, church and more—God has not moved. God has not changed. And praise God, He cares and His name is JESUS CHRIST.
“ 24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:24-34 (NASB)
At the end of the day, at the beginning of the day and every moment around the clock—God sees our situation and knows what is best for our life (Psalm 32:8). When the sorrow and pain of change grip your heart, cling to the truth of Scripture that Jesus Christ is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). When you feel without direction and are unsure what to do next, press into God and do His will (Psalm 119:9-16). When you feel faint with the weight of unknowns and weeping children, cry out to the God who cares and will one day dry every tear (Revelation 21:3-4). May I encourage each one reading to wait; not on a diagnosis…not on word of a next assignment…but to WAIT UPON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. For it is written:
“26Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.
27Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?
28Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
29He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
30Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40: 26-31 (NASB)
As we approach Memorial Day and remember all those who have sacrificed and served, may I challenge us all to pray for Jesus Christ to strengthen and protect military families. And the next time you interact with a service member and their family, may I suggest a little extra grace, a little extra understanding and a lot of extra prayer for those who are continually living in a place of uprooting, planting and serving within a given community—for your safety and for mine. God bless all who serve—both in uniform and those holding down “the home front”.
“1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.” Romans 6:1-7 (NASB)
“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world: red, brown, yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” As the well-known Christian children’s song declares, Jesus indeed loves the children of the entire world. Yet, in a political climate that seems so polarized by race, this statement may seem difficult for some. The words of Jesus may even seem ridiculous to others. Yet, Jesus proved time and time again that He did not just come for one race or one people group, but indeed for all the world (John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-10).
Take for example the account of Jesus speaking with the woman at the well (John 4:1-45). While returning to Galilee, Jesus and His disciples passed through Samaria. While in the Samaritan town of Sychar, Jesus shocked His disciples by chatting with a woman with a scandalous past (and present). He had also shocked the woman herself, who knowing that Jews did not speak to “half-breeds” (Jews in these cities had been forced to intermarry with those of the Assyrian empire…and thus, were now only half-Jews). Yet, Jesus blew this clear out of the proverbial water by not only greeting the woman, but asking her for a drink. In doing so, it opened up a genuine conversation that resulted in Jesus exposing her choices of living with a man that was not her husband and the fact that the woman had five previous husbands. Jesus then shared with her that He was the Messiah (John 4:25-26). And as a result of the disciples walking back from getting food in town to witness this exchange, they were forever changed.
“ 39From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” 40So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41Many more believed because of His word; 42and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:39-42 (NASB)
Jesus always valued people over protocol and even perceived importance of function and age. Jesus strongly corrected His disciples who were trying to keep people with their little children from getting near to Jesus for Him to bless their children. The disciples just didn’t get it. They missed the point that Jesus saw value in the heart; not in the outward appearance of success and being worthy of being seen only once an adult. No, Jesus loved young and old the same; perfectly and with warm blessing.
“13And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 14But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” Mark 10:13-16 (NASB)
I remember being in Norfolk, Virginia as the race riots were taking place in 2017 around the country, but most notably, the terrible tragedy of Charlottesville, Virginia. I remember vividly the staff, whom had become our friends, being terrified of bodily harm to their bus due to the riots—simply because they were African American. I will never forget praying alongside our children with these amazing women in Jesus’ name and offering for my children and I to drive them to their homes after they had been given the day off from cleaning on-base hotels by their employer due to the lethal tone of riots at that time. These ladies, specifically one, could not believe that we would care about their well being—we were white, after all. I could not believe that they would assume that we would not care—they each possessed dignity, value and eternal worth no matter what the color of their hair, fingernails or skin. The bottom line…and every line above it…all are valuable in the sight of Almighty God and ALL are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). If we are not actively teaching our children these truths, we are cheapening their impact for the Gospel of Jesus Christ—for those of any given cultural heritage will only be able to experience the time and attention we are willing to invest in them.
Thus, may we teach our children to LOVE DEEPLY in Jesus’ name for we are all of one race…the race of ADAM…that being marred by SIN. And no matter what shade or variation of rebellion against God we paint atop our sinful souls, we all come from the same root of Adam (Genesis 3 & Romans 3:23). And where there is sin, the Bible is very clear to state, death will always follow (Genesis 5 & Romans 6:26).
But!!! PRAISE GOD ALMIGHTY, regardless of what each of us have done—there is forgiveness and a fresh start offered to all through Jesus Christ the Risen Lord (Isaiah 53:5)! May we love intentional—engage cross-culturally with purpose—and further the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people as the Lord Jesus Christ instructed us.
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33 (HCSB)
Once at the Place of the Skull, large nails were then driven into Jesus’ hands and feet. This was the most brutal and barbaric killing instrument of that day. And it was reserved for only the worst of criminals. Yet, here was Jesus the Christ, proven to be innocent by even Pilate and Herod, and he was experiencing a criminal’s death. It could not have even been carried out upon a Roman citizen. Thus Jesus, as an innocent substitute for each and every one of the human race, bore the brutal punishment of death upon a cross (Romans 8:28). To speed up the process, at the urging of the Jews, the Roman soldiers were instructed by Pilate to break the legs of those upon the cross to cause the arms to stretch higher above the head, ushering the arrival of death quicker—seeing as the following day was the Sabbath (John 19:31-32). Yet, this was not done to the Lord Jesus Christ as He was not a victim of His circumstances, but rather He had willfully determined to go through with the brutal death of humanity in order to ransom His creations (Isaiah 53:9-11, Romans 5:18, Philippians 2:8 & 1 Peter 2:24).
“This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.” John 10:17-18 (HCSB)
While enduring the cross and continued atmosphere of satanic celebration, the soldiers divided Jesus’ clothing by casting lots (Psalm 22:18 & Matthew 5:44). Jesus had publicly cried out to His Father in heaven to “forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He had also assured the repentant thief on the cross next to Him that “today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). When all had been accomplished to fulfill the prophesies of the Old Testament of the Lord Jesus, He cried out in a loud voice “It is finished!” and gave up His spirit (John 19:30).
The crowd gathered below was a mixture of demonic taunting and agonizing screams of horror and pain. When it came time to break the legs of Jesus, there was no need–He had in fact already died (John 19:33). This fulfilled the prophesy of the Psalms and the prophets (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12 & Psalm 34:20). The rocks split and the veil within the Holy of Holies of the Temple split from top to bottom as a result of Jesus giving up His spirit (Matthew 27:51). The punishment for the depravity of all humanity had in fact been paid in full (Matthew 27:45-53, Mark 15:33-38, John 3:16, Galatians 3:13-14 & Titus 2:14).
“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10 (HCSB)
Because you are loved by the God who made you, Hope took on flesh (John 3:16).
Because you hold eternal significance, Redemption bore our punishment (Isaiah 53:5).
Because you are worth it to the Creator of all things, the Lord Jesus Christ victoriously rose from the dead on the third day (Romans 10:9-10)—so that all who trust in Him will also one day rise again (Hebrews 9:27-28 & 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)!
Regardless of the struggles this life holds, as believers in Jesus Christ, we have the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:33).
Whatever you struggle with from day to day, know that our Lord can deliver you from your hardships just as He did with Mary Magdalene and countless others! Those closest to Jesus, His twelve disciples struggled with the same temptations that we face today in 2019: a love of money (Judas Iscariot), doubt (Thomas), disbelief (Philip) and among other things, an inability to stick it out in hard times (all of the twelve). So, why would Jesus choose people who would show off such poor aspects of our human nature? Simply put, because we can all relate to times of failure…and a need for a Savior.
And, praise God, He loved them to the end (John 13:1). God is glorified in our weakness; for when we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)! In closing, no matter the mountain ranges, no matter the unspeakable odds, no matter the loneliness, realize that you are not sealed into your grief—your worry—your pain.
Why? Because just as the stone was rolled away to reveal the EMPTY TOMB of our eternally victorious Savior, Jesus Christ, we too will be delivered out of our deepest places of despair and utter need. Ladies, may we be filled with praise that rises far above our circumstances to declare that there is indeed VICTORY in the name of Jesus Christ alone (Psalm 121).
“ 1I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
2My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
3He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
5The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7The LORD will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
8The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.”
Psalm 121:1-8 (NASB)
Have you ever been ticked off about something that you know really isn’t a big deal? I mean, it’s really gotten under your skin, but to even acknowledge it out loud would show just how ridiculous it really is…well, you’re not alone! Allow me to share my ridiculousness! Hahah!
While playing in the backyard with our children one day, the bird feeder that my husband had filled the night before was being burglarized by two fury tailed thieves! Yes, they were grey and cute, but the point was, they were taking the birdseed of the gorgeous red cardinals! I grew up in California and did not see cardinals—ever. So, when I would gasp out loud and call my husband to the window to see them in one of our first moves to the southern parts of America, he would just chuckle under his breath each time he would hurry to see the familiar southern sight. He had grown up in the deep south of America and cardinals were a very common sight there—like doves, pheasants and magpies in Northern California. But for me, it was something truly special to see such bright red plumage contrasted by a mighty oak. Anyway…back to the bird feeder!
While getting very ticked off that these squirrels were taking the food of the cardinals in our tree, the Lord taught me a lesson about the people in my life and the need to “share the seed”. Allow me to explain.
Sometimes it’s easy to get frustrated at the squirrels for repeatedly taking the birdseed from the feeder and not leaving much of any for the colorful birds. Yet, may we remember, there is enough for all. And there will be people in our lives (like squirrels) who require a “little bit more” from us—more time, more effort and more energy than say…the “birds” in our lives.
Yet, rather than getting frustrated with those who need more attention, more instruction and take more “seed” of encouragement and resources than the average seed consumer…pray for God to open your eyes to see things as He does (Ephesians 3:16).
Jesus told a parable about how each bird of the field is taken care of by God and they do not store up for themselves what is needed for tomorrow—rather, they trust in God to provide for their needs each day. Not a single bird falls from the sky without the careful notice of the Lord. Jesus then added that if God takes such detailed care of the birds, how much MORE does He take care of our needs? (Matthew 10:29-31).
We will all experience times of “needing a little extra” in our lives—more time, more encouragement, more guidance…you get the point. But the reality is, regardless of the season we are in, God will supply our needs over and above our expectations.
“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NASB)
When you don’t know how you will have the strength to do another sleepless night with your little one, or another heavy flu season, or another long series of “but why?” questions…may you be encouraged to DIG DEEP into the promises of God.
Before we come to a close, may I encourage you to whip out a good old fashion piece of paper and a trusty pen…and actually look up these following verses. If you do not have a Bible, no sweat. I love and highly recommend Biblehub.com as a fantastic online resource that is great for quick access to multiple Bible translations, commentaries and even Hebrew and Greek! So, with that said, allow us to actually pause (contrary to the pace of our modern culture) and actually STEEP OUR MINDS in the beautiful truths of God’s Word regarding those moments when you just need a serious reminder that you are not in this alone:
I am convinced that parenthood was created to bring us to the end of ourselves—in order to realize, that in our great love for our children, we MUST reach out to the Lord for daily guidance, moment by moment instruction and wisdom that only can be supplied by the Almighty God who loves us with an unyielding zeal—and whose compassion, mercy and grace are endless (Hebrews 4:16). Be encouraged that you are not on this journey called motherhood alone—I’m also asking the Lord Jesus Christ for daily guidance! And if I could give a praise to wrap this up, He is faithful to address each and every one of my husband and I’s questions, concerns and need for guidance both in parenting as well as within married life—because the Lord Jesus is just THAT good (Nahum 1:7).
If you do not already believe on the perfect life, innocent death and resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ to have eternal right standing before Almighty God, this is your moment to add the greatest asset to your family life—as well as your eternal life—being the one and only Son of the Living God, Jesus Christ.