A Cherished Life
How has a test of faith actually strengthened your trust in God?
Abraham died knowing that, even though there were times he failed to trust, he had pleased God. Abraham and Sarah became different people as they traveled with God and witnessed His merciful interventions. So it is with us—sometimes our faith has to be tested before it will grow. See how Abraham and Sarah’s journey of faith can encourage you in your journey as a Military wife.
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
Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back
From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you did this thing?” Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”
Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him. And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” To Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated.” Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.-Genesis 20
At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do. Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my descendants or with my posterity, but as I have dealt kindly with you, so you will deal with me and with the land where you have sojourned.” And Abraham said, “I will swear.”
When Abraham reproved Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized, Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today.” So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant. Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock apart. And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” He said, “These seven ewe lambs you will take from my hand, that this may be a witness for me that I dug this well.” Therefore that place was called Beersheba, because there both of them swore an oath. So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Then Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army rose up and returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned many days in the land of the Philistines.-Genesis 21:22-34
“I know better! How could I make the same mistake again?”
Can you relate? Have you asked yourself how you could do something you thought you would never repeat? Welcome to the human condition. I call it the three steps forward, two steps back syndrome. Abraham knew something about this pattern.
After the destruction of Sodom, Abraham traveled south. Again he gave in to his fear that trouble would come from a foreign king. He went into panic mode yet again and lied about Sarah, yet again. Didn’t we just read about him becoming more mature in his faith—praying for others—believing God for a son in his old age? Why would he put the promise God made to him in jeopardy by allowing his wife to be taken into a king’s harem, yet again?
Yes, we can see a pattern with Abraham, but we can also see a pattern with God: When we take steps backward, God is always willing to take steps forward. In this case, God appeared to King Abimelech in a dream and told him that Sarah was a married woman and, in essence, that Abraham was an object of God’s special care.
The dream did not keep the king from asking Abraham a pointed question: “What have you done to us?”
Abraham made excuses: “I thought you would kill me.” “Technically, she is my half-sister.” “This all happened because God made me leave my home.”
Excuses, excuses. I know them too well when I fail to trust God. What about you?
The fact that Abraham failed to trust God is really no surprise. The surprise is the merciful way God intervened. Abraham acknowledged God’s intervention and mercy by planting a tree as a landmark of God’s grace. What a perfect symbol of the journey thus far. The longer he journeyed with God the more his faith was rooted in God’s trustworthy character.
What are some symbols you have that attest to your relationship with God as rooted and growing? Are there steps you take or can take to protect you from repeating sinful patterns?
Lord, thank you for being a God who is faithful even when I am faithless. Your mercy and grace are amazing. Help me stand firm and trust in your power and not my own. Amen.
The Lord Takes Note of You
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”-Genesis 21:1-7
Do you understand the significance of the opening of Genesis 21? Take a look: “Then the Lord took note of Sarah …”
When it came time for the promised son to be born, the focus of God was not on Abraham, but on Sarah. The words of this verse refer to the direct intervention of God. Beyond the realm of human possibility Sarah became a mother. God focused his attention on Sarah and her part in the fulfillment of the promise that she would birth a son. God made an appointment with Sarah a year earlier—and sisters, God keeps his appointments!
God took note of a young military wife named Julie. She and her chaplain husband met in Bible college. Julie graduated a few years before he did and then worked full-time to support his seminary education. She patiently waited until finally they headed into what she thought would be joint ministry.
Her husband became a chaplain, and Julie was disillusioned as he sailed into his role and there was no place for her. He wore the uniform and was fulfilled in his work, and that made Julie angry.
“I remember shaking my fist at God,” she told me, “and asking him why it took a college degree to wash someone’s underwear! (I know, I know … not my best moment.) But I found the end of my rope and relinquished desire for my own ministry. A heart that has come to its end is a heart God can use, and he has used me! By the time we left our first assignment, I was convinced God had assigned me to that place and my husband was the tag-along. In every posting, God has given me assignments. I have permission to minister to the people that I do because my husband is in the military; it would never work otherwise. God has given me favor and influence and a more powerful ministry than I ever envisioned. All glory to God!”
You can find hope in the story of God’s attention and intervention in the life of Sarah and in the life of a military sister like Julie. Your purposes in God’s plan as a wife are as important as God’s purposes for your military husband. God can assign your husband to the place you are supposed to be for his purpose. Be encouraged today—the Lord takes note of you!
Do you ever feel marginalized as a military wife? How can you encourage other military wives to know that God takes note of them?
Lord, thank you for taking note of me! Help me to take note of others and affirm their value to you. Amen.
Test of Faith
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.
Now after these things it was told to Abraham, “Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor: Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” ( Bethuel fathered Rebekah.) These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. Moreover, his concubine, whose name was Reumah, bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.-Genesis 22
Fortunately, there is no test to become a military wife. Can you imagine the questions: Fill-in-the-blank rank structure? Match letter groups to the correct acronyms? Multiple choice answers for military protocol or history? An essay question on “why I want to be the best military wife ever”? Yes, I’m glad there were no tests because I doubt I would have passed.
The reader of Genesis 22 is let in on a secret: there is going to be a test. Abraham was not aware of the upcoming examination—much more than a spiritual pop quiz. Finally, the promised child Isaac had been born. The Scripture jumps from his miraculous birth to the potential nation he represented, now in jeopardy. How could God ask for such a sacrifice?
We watch the father-son trek up to Mount Moriah. God’s instruction to Abraham was to go. It was the same word used when God first called Abraham to leave all he held dear in his homeland and go to a place God would show him. Now the word required him to go and offer the Lord what he loved most. This time it was not home or land. This time it was his son—his only son. God had met him at each turn in the road. Would this time be any different?
The journey to Moriah meant Abraham had to lay his expectations and hopes on the altar along with his son. He had to ask if his faith was focused on the hope wrapped up in his only son, or if his faith was focused on God. Was Abraham willing to follow God if there was nothing in it for him? I must ask the same question when tests come to me. Tests of my faith force me to rely on God. Abraham’s experience with God thus far allowed him to go to a most difficult place with the trust that God would provide exactly what was needed at the exact time.
None of us gets an exemption from the tests of life. The question Abraham had to answer is the same one each of us must answer: Will you serve God regardless of your circumstances?
Lord, help my relationship with you to grow stronger in the midst of challenging circumstances that test my faith. Amen.
Memorial to a Dedicated Wife and Mother
Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.” Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. And he said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.”
Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city, “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.” Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “But if you will, hear me: I give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” Ephron answered Abraham, “My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.
So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites.-Genesis 23
On a beautiful hilltop overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains is a tombstone inscribed with the name of my mother-in-law. Her final resting place is in the Georgia National Cemetery, where one day her veteran husband will join her. Our nation has set aside beautiful pieces of land to honor and remember those who serve our country through military service. The military wife and her service alongside her husband are included in this gracious memorial.
Sarah came to the end of her life and there was no place to bury her. Was Abraham to take her body back to Ur? Should he accept the offer of a gift from the inhabitants of the land? What was a sojourner to do?
Abraham strategically negotiated the purchase of ground on which to bury Sarah. Isn’t it remarkable that the first piece of property Abraham owned in the Promised Land was a plot to bury his wife? He realized the importance of a place for successive generations to memorialize their faith. God led them to this land that would one day be theirs. Sarah’s grave was in essence a spiritual beachhead for the borders the Lord would expand to become the nation of Israel.
Sarah was buried east of Mamre, a place where some of her happiest memories had taken place. It was here that the Lord promised her she would give birth to a child. It was here the sojourner rested, no longer a stranger.
Sarah did not know the impact she would have on others. We read of the significance of her death, but it was her life that held the greatest impact. Did you know Sarah is the only woman in Scripture whose lifespan is mentioned? That says to me that God takes note when we live a life devoted to him, and others. The words we say and the deeds we do establish a beachhead of God’s plan and will.
Perhaps one day I will join my mother-in-law on that memorial hill in North Georgia. Until then, it’s the people I bless while I’m alive that will make my life a memorial. You do not know the blessing you are to others. Go out and be a blessing today! God will not forget you!
Our nation does not forget a military wife. Abraham did not forget Sarah. God will not forget you. With this assurance, what courageous actions will you take today?
Lord, thank you for a nation that does not forget the service of a military wife. Most of all, I thank you for being a God who does not forget me. Help me today to be the blessing youve called me to be to those I meet. Amen.
Satisfied with Life
These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life, 175 years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.-Genesis 25:7-8
What could be a better obituary than to read a person died at a good old age and lived a full and satisfied life?
What does it mean to be satisfied with life? To enjoy the journey? To have no regrets? To let go of the things that would cause remorse?
Abraham’s life was not easy. He spent most of his life without a place to call home. He knew the pain of loss. He knew the impatience of waiting. He knew the disappointment of personal failure. He knew the frustration of fear. He knew the anguish of sacrifice. Yet he ended his life satisfied and content. He was far from perfect, but he left a legacy of faith because he learned to live by faith. He learned something you and I can learn as we journey through life.
In studying the life of Abraham and his journey with God, it is easy to be impressed with his obedience and his sense of adventure, but I am most impressed with the role God played in the journey. God was the one who always initiated, helped, and waited. He revealed himself step by step as Abraham traveled. Through the relationship Abraham was invited to have with God, all nations of the world would be blessed as they were shown what God was like. Abraham’s satisfaction was not in the life he lived, but in the God he served.
A military survey recently reported that Army spouses are increasingly satisfied with their way of life, supportive of their soldiers’ careers, and generally coping better with deployments. In fact, they want to stay in the Army more than their soldier spouses. There is never a way to know if a survey like this represents the opinion of an entire group. I do know, however, that when it comes time to depart this life, our satisfaction will not be based on a husband’s rank, a retirement home, or money in the bank. Satisfaction, at that point, will come when, like Abraham, we know our relationship with the Lord is established and sure.
How satisfied are you with military life? How does your relationship with God affect your overall satisfaction with life?
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11) Amen.
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