A Challenge to Faith
Where is God asking you to take a step of faith?
Abraham faced many challenges as he set out for Canaan, including famine and walking in the desert, in sandals, for over 500 miles. Abraham focused on the goal of God’s promise to be able to make such a trek. Like Abraham, we have to own our God-given goals. Discover the blessings that come to those who have their steps established by the Lord.
About This Journey
God desires for women to take a step of faith and discover their place in His plan. For Military wives, dedication to Christ translates into dedication to our husbands and to Military life. In “Dedicated to God’s Plan”, we trace the steps toward a dedicated life through the journey of Abraham and Sarah in the book of Genesis.
This Week's Readings
The First Step is the Hardest
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.-Genesis 12:4
Abraham was born in a city called Ur, a place located in the south of what we now know as Iraq—yes, that Iraq. Heard of it? Scholars tell us that Ur was a thriving city filled with educational, cultural, and economic opportunities. Abraham’s father Terah then moved the family north and west to the city of Haran (Genesis 11:31). When his father died, God directed Abraham to leave Haran and go to Canaan (see also Acts 7:4). The call God gave to Abraham was blunt. He used two action words military families know well: leave and go.
At face value this directive does not seem such a challenge, but when you look at the culture of the Near East, you see this challenge was more than meets the eye. In Abraham’s day to leave your family was to leave your significance and security. God asked Abraham and his wife Sarah to leave behind their country, their nationality, their clan, and ultimately their identity.
Maybe you can relate to this story. Perhaps you lived in a city you enjoyed, surrounded by family and friends. One day an official document headlined ORDERS arrived with the order to leave and go to an unfamiliar place. No journey can commence without a first step, and my guess is the first step out of Haran was a hard one for Abraham and Sarah, just as it may have been for you.
My friend Kay recalls the day her husband entered military service. She had been born and reared in the same small town where her family had deep roots. The idea of living anywhere else was unthinkable, yet that is what she did as a military wife. When asked about what made leaving her hometown so difficult she said, “I was afraid of the unknown. I didn’t know who I was outside my homogeneous bubble.” If you talk to Kay today she will tell you the first step was the hardest, but she would do it all over again in a heartbeat: “The journey has been amazing! I thought I would lose my identity when I left home. Instead, God has used military life to grow me into who he called me to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love my hometown, but God had a plan that included me taking a step into unknown territory. Yes, the first step was the hardest, but he’s been with me each step of the way.”
Is God asking you to take a step of faith in some area? What keeps you from taking the first step?
Lord, give me courage to take the first step
to leave the familiar
to meet a new neighbor
to get involved in a ministry
to forgive a friend
to make a wise choice.
Help me step out in your name and in your power. Amen.
They Set Out
And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan,-Genesis 12:5
“She set her sights on the goal.”
“She was set up for success.”
“Her heart is set on it.”
The use of the word set in these statements creates a context of determination and focus, doesn’t it? The mood of Genesis 12:5 would be different if it read: “They began their journey toward the land of Canaan.” Abraham did not just start the journey—he set out!
Someone who sets out has a goal in mind and will make an earnest attempt to accomplish that goal. Abraham and his household set out with purpose to see the Promised Land. They set out determined that they would not get distracted and would reach their destination.
The journey no doubt brought emotional upheaval, but it also brought physical challenge. The expedition from Haran to Canaan was about five hundred miles. The paths were rough and the pace was slow. Imagine hiking the Appalachian Trail with your kids and all your belongings for five hundred miles. I don’t know about you, but my set out would quickly turn to sit down!
Abraham had to see the goal of God’s promise in his mind to be able to make such a trek. That is the way of any goal, isn’t it? We have to own it. We have to set our minds on achievement in order to accomplish the goal.
Have you ever thought about goals as they relate to military life? In other words, what kind of military wife have you set out to become? I encourage you today not to view military life as a temporary state of existence, but to set goals for this season of your life. Whether short term goals for your current duty station, or long term goals for the time of your husband’s military obligation, there are important questions you can ask yourself to bring focus and determination to your journey.
- How do I want to grow as a person?
- Where do I want to be in my relationships?
- What do I want my finances to look like?
- Is this a place to continue my education?
- Are there opportunities for Christian service?
- Are there opportunities for leadership training?
- How do I want to grow in my faith and relationship to God?
Father, I set out today with determination and focus. Help me set goals that are pleasing to the direction you want my life to go, and then equip me to live today with purpose. Amen.
This is Not What I Expected!
Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.-Genesis 12:6
“Make sure you’re covered and run straight for the light!”
This is not a statement from a science fiction novel or action thriller. The words do not refer to dodging bullets or a near-death experience. This is what my husband said to me while working at a summer camp in Minnesota. What was he instructing me to run from, you ask? Mosquitoes! No, the mosquito is not the Minnesota state bird, as many quip, but it is the state pest!
The invitation to speak at a summer camp by the lake brought expectations of a paid vacation in a lovely woodland setting. My husband was the guest speaker and I was going along to enjoy nature at its best. Or so I thought. My expectation of an idyllic vacation was crushed as I battled the tiny, but extremely annoying, mosquito.
One life lesson from that summer camp is that no matter how idyllic your circumstances, there will be difficulties. Even when you are in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing, challenges will be present. Abraham was at the place the Lord sent him, at the time the Lord sent him; yet he was faced with the problem of Canaanites living in the land God said would be his. I will give you a hint of what is to come: The Canaanites were going to prove a much greater threat than an army of mosquitoes. They were downright anti-neighborly.
The truth is, sometimes the things God asks of us do not come in a simple and direct manner. In a perfect world there are no mosquitoes or Canaanites, but we do not live in a perfect world. In the real world your dedication as a military wife will be tested by situations—and people. The tests may come by way of an annoying neighbor, an uncooperative military support group, or a command climate that makes your husband’s work unpleasant.
Hope can be found in the words of Psalm 46:1: “God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” The expectation of his help will never be disappointed.
Think of a time when you felt you were at the right place, at the right time. Were your expectations met or were there unforeseen annoyances? How did you handle any disappointment?
Lord, I can get bent out of shape over the smallest annoyance. Help me look at any obstacle as an opportunity for your grace to work in and through me. Help me rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and stay constant in prayer. Amen.
The Area Code of Faith
Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.-Genesis 12:7-9
You know you’re a military wife when … your driver’s license, car registration, phone area code, and zip code are each from a different state.
There was a time when that description fit me. All the official necessities are now correctly registered in the state in which I reside. My cell phone number, however, remains the same. I have long since left the 910 area code, but I have kept that number. Why? Because it is symbolic of a place where my faith grew exponentially.
In that area code I called out to God…
…when I was lonely and he reminded me of his presence.
…when I was afraid and he reminded me of his protection.
…when I was discouraged and he reminded me of his hope.
…when I was vulnerable and he reminded me of his help.
…when I was anxious and he reminded me of his peace.
…when I was weak and he reminded me of his strength.
In that area code God strengthened me for the journey ahead. I left that place stronger in my faith and more confident of my eternal purpose. I do not plan to change my cell phone number because its area code is a spiritual landmark. Without a doubt an area code is an unusual landmark of faith, but a landmark can be anything that brings to remembrance an aspect of spiritual history and formation.
Shechem and Bethel became landmarks of faith for Abraham. God shared a few more details with him at Shechem about the promise to make his name great. In response, Abraham built an altar in confirmation of and silent thanksgiving for the promise of God.
Do you have places that you consider landmarks of your faith in God? Abraham honored God with the physical act of building an altar. What are ways that you honor God?
Lord, make me aware of your presence today. Open my eyes to see your glory in the people and places I encounter and strengthen my faith with each step. Amen.
When Faith Takes a Detour
Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.-Genesis 12:10
“I feel alone. This house is no companion. My children are uncommunicative. My husband is too tired to talk when he finally gets home. Everything takes too much effort. Why did we have to move here? I tell myself this was the right direction for our family but today I’m not sure. God, do you even care?”
I’m not proud to admit this ranting came from my journal. This was my husband’s dream assignment. We purchased our first home in a community that had high ratings for quality of life. Yet the promise that led us to this place faded as the challenges of real life arose. In a symbolic sense there was famine in the land.
On the heels of God’s appearance to Abraham, he walks right into a famine. God did not say anything about a famine. He spoke of promise—land—children—a great name—not a famine! Perhaps Abraham questioned if he heard God at all.
What did Abraham do in the face of this obstacle? He took a detour from God’s itinerary. Egypt was not on the route, but famine was not on the agenda. He had to do something to feed his family, didn’t he? Or did he? Doesn’t this detour to Egypt argue against God’s care for Abraham promised in the blessing? Was God really able to care for him in this new land?
Doubts and questions are common when obstacles appear. We face the same challenge today that Abraham faced: Will we allow God to use obstacles to grow our faith? Abraham took his eyes off the God of the promise and focused on the threat to the promise.
If Abraham and his family, who held an exceptional place in God’s plan, encountered challenges, we should approach our Christian life with the expectation that we will face challenges too. There are times we struggle to hear God’s voice and question the direction we are sure he told us to take. When we decide to take matters into our own hands, even then, we can rest assured that the Lord can turn us in the right direction.
Are you struggling with an obstacle that seems to keep you from growing in your relationship with God? Write it down in your journal. If you cant put it in words yet, ask God to show it to you more clearly.
Lord, help me to trust you when obstacles seem to block your will for my life. Strengthen my trust that you care for me and will provide for every need. Amen.
Resources & Info
Resources to help you and other military wives in your community.
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