“How do you do it?”…”I couldn’t do it!”…”How do you sleep at night?”…”I would never survive that!”
I get this all the time. Usually, from parents, but sometimes from young people. You see, my son is an active member of the United States Army. He is in the infantry. The proverbial boots on the ground. Tip of the spear. All of that.
I got those questions and comments a LOT when he went on his first deployment. At age 19 and only a few months out of his basic training, he volunteered to spend 9 months in Afghanistan. Home of the Taliban. 9 months. Did you hear me say “HE VOLUNTEERED”!!
When he called to tell us the good news, only by God’s grace did we not respond with “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!”. We were actually proud of him. Very proud. He was just beginning his life out of our home, under his own direction. He didn’t let his fears guide him. He didn’t call us up and ask what we thought. He merely shot his hand up when asked if anyone would like to go. He wanted to serve, to do what he had been trained to do. To be of use. Don’t we all?
After 19 years of family traditions and anticipation of the holiday season, we would be short 1 very important human for nearly a year. I was barely getting used to him being moved out our home and now he was going to fly halfway around the world for 3 seasons!
We started sleeping with our phone ringers on high in case he called during the night (which happened frequently). There’s nothing like being on a skype call at 2 a.m.! We would check social media first thing in the mornings to see if he had been active. To see if he had gained access to wifi during our night. We watched each morning for news stories from the region he was in. We shifted our focus to our daughter who was entering her senior year in high school. Now she would be ours for a while without interruption. We settled back into our daily schedules once he left and stayed focused on what we DID have. Our faith, our family, our friends, our work. We had too many blessings in our lives to allow ourselves to focus on anything negative.
“Walking in the Freedom Faith Provides”…why the title? When we place our faith and trust in God, He brings freedom. Freedom to choose confidence instead of fear. Confidence in Him, in His word, not in ourselves. True story. And this life we live with our soldier has been a big teaching tool for that principle in my life.
“For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.”
Psalm 33:4 NIV
I’m a bit of a word nerd so let’s break this down (just humor me)…According to Merriam-Webster the three key words I see here are defined as follows:
*Right=straight, genuine, real, correct
*True=steadfast, loyal, just, consistent, honest
*Faithful=loyal, conscientious, binding (giving with strong assurance)
So if I put this in my own words Psalm 33:4 might read something like this…
“For the word of the Lord is straight (that’s my favorite), correct AND steadfast, loyal, just (also a favorite); He is loyal, conscientious, staunch (suggesting strong determination) and lends strong assurance in all he does”
This verse is so full of who God is (by the way, that entire chapter in Psalm is awesome, you should go read it). I think it’s hard for us to wrap our minds around the fact that this is truth. These are facts. There is no “but” or “only if you”…His words are right and true and He is faithful…in some things? No. In all things.
If I believe the word of God is true, and I do, then, I have to believe that what He says on all of the other 1’000’s of pages of my Bible are true too. This is where faith walks in.
I take it on faith that if during my life, God has proven to always be right, true and just in my corner of the world, He is doing so now elsewhere, has always operated that way, and will continue to do so.
So I cling to what He says about my boy. About his boy.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”
Psalm 5:11 NIV
My son is no saint, but he knows who his heavenly father is. And he knows that these promises are for him. I see the words prosper, hope, future, joy, protection…As I pray for our son daily, I simply remind the Lord what He has spoken about our boy.
For me, one of my very favorite verses is Philippians 4:6-7 NIV.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I memorized this many years ago. My husband and I have used it through the years to calm each other down when we’ve faced uncertain times. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, this is truth. Therein is where the freedom lies…if I choose to take God at His word, He carries my fears and concerns for me. He is taking care of our boy. I choose to trust His abilities for He is far more capable than I. It’s a daily choice.
There are other areas of my life where I’m still working on this. I’m still learning to take scripture, remind myself what it says, and remind God what He promised. Don’t hear me say I have no worries. But, the worries I do have, I generally bring on myself. He clearly says “Do not worry or be anxious”. I believe if we could all grasp this concept, this lifestyle, as believers, to really take Him at His word, to trust Him with the outcome, no matter what it is…this is the freedom He desires for us to walk in. When we are free from worry and anxiety, we are more available to hear Him and to be His hands and feet.
What do you need to hand over to God? What do you need to trust Him with? He is trustworthy. He knows best. He can handle it. Let it go.
Do I have moments where I cry a puddle on my lap driving down the road? Sure I do, I’m human. Do I ever hang up the phone with my son and just sense he’s not telling me the whole truth? Yep. My human reaction is to get emotional, or let my mind wander. And believe me, that does happen. But, in the words of the great song writer, Bill Gaither…
“How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!”