As I write this devotional, my husband just received PCS orders to Kunsan Air Base for a one-year remote assignment. It is not the assignment we were hoping for. It is not the assignment we expected. Many of you may be sharing these shoes as your PCS orders roll in. Maybe you were in my shoes last year, or the year before that.
This is military life. It’s lots of waiting and anticipating things that rarely turn out to be what we expect. It’s the most incredible joy you can imagine during every homecoming. And it’s disappointed hopes. It’s fear while the world spins around you, outside of your control. It’s learning to search tirelessly for the good in all circumstances.
All day as people have heard the news — family, friends, coworkers — they’ve asked how I was taking it. I don’t blame them for wondering. But, one of the most beautiful things about military life is that if you live it long enough, you learn to surrender to faith.
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith, he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10, ESV).
Moving every two to three years can be a burden. But it can also be a gift, if we set our sights on the right things.
A military spouse’s roots grow fast and wide. By necessity, we become great community builders because we have to do it quickly. And although we make friends who become family, our roots lift easily. That’s hard sometimes, but it is so good for teaching our hearts about eternity.
Military life makes it much harder to put down the kind of deep roots that tie our hearts to earthly places, rather than heavenly ones. Don’t get me wrong — there are many days when I wish I had deeper roots somewhere. When I see friends from elementary school spending every weekend together. When I think of how much I miss my mom sometimes. But then I remember good old Abraham.
“For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”
What do you look forward to when you feel weary from this nomadic lifestyle? Do you dream of the home you’ll settle in when your commitment is up? Or do you think of the one that you’ll live in for all of eternity? I’ll be honest. I lean toward my dream house here on earth. As in, my “Dream Home” Pinterest board has five times the pins that any other board has in my account. I just checked, and I have thousands of pins … so that’s a lot of dreaming.
As in so many things, we often try to fill the holy longings that God has given us with earthly things. There’s a reason that we long to be known. There’s a reason that we dream of a place to settle down, even if we’re still enjoying the adventure and travel of this lifestyle.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, ESV).
From the very beginning, God has placed in us a desire to spend eternity with Him. We are all exiles. God created us to live with Him in perfect harmony in the Garden of Eden. Once sin separated Adam and Eve from perfect fellowship with Him, and they were kicked out, generation after generation has spent their lives longing for “home.” We’re no different.
I can say from experience that the deeper our roots here on earth run, the easier it is to fill that void with things that will never fully satisfy it. I often look back on life before the military as being better in some ways. But the more I see the roots I had in my hometown erode — the people and places going on, changing and growing without me there — the more I recognize that all along, God wanted me to fill that longing with eternity.
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. … But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself” (Phillipians 3:12 & 20-21, ESV).
List out all of the qualities and characteristics of your ideal “home.” Who would be there? Where would you settle? What would your family look like? Spend some time praying about each element, surrendering your expectations. After completing the week’s readings, ask God what the root of each desire is, and consider how it will be fulfilled in heaven in a far better way than on earth. (e.g. Do you wish you didn’t have to deal with the pain of separation? There is no pain in heaven, etc.)
Take time to really think about these questions from the reading: What do you look forward to when you feel weary from this nomadic lifestyle? Do you dream of the home you’ll settle in when your commitment is up? Or do you think of the one that you’ll live in for all of eternity?
Has there been a time when “home” disappointed you? (Maybe you got disappointing PCS orders, or maybe you returned to your hometown and felt disappointed by the lack of connection you felt — your scenario could be anything!)
Why is the concept of “home” so enticing, when our earthly homes can be so disappointing?
Spend some time thinking about Abraham’s call. What did he have to leave behind, what emotions did he feel, how did he feel following God? How can you relate to his experience? How can you find solace knowing that many of the saints who have gone before have experienced very similar things (Hebrews 11)?
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Monday: Genesis 12:1 – 9
Tuesday: John 14
Wednesday: Hebrews 11:1 – 16
Thursday: Hebrews 11:32 – 12:3
Friday: Revelation 21:1 – 8
Saturday: Revelation 22:1 – 5