God’s Presence Helps Me Learn
What can we learn about the character of God during deployment?
Week five teaches us how The Ten Commandments give us a picture of the character of God and reveal what is important to Him. Deployment is a time when we can learn new things about God and increase our understanding of how He wants to relate with us. The truths found in the commandments, and the entire bible, can serve as a lasting guide not just during deployment but also throughout our life.
About This Journey
Deployment can leave those at home feeling like we’re alone in the wilderness. When we live in the presence of God, we are never on our own. In “Deployed Not Despondent”, we journey through Exodus to help us recognize God’s activity around us and to see deployment through a lens of blessing and gratitude.
This Week's Readings
They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God.-Exodus 19:2-3a
I do not like people to keep me in the dark. I do not like people to keep me guessing. I do not like situations that are a need-to-know basis and someone has decided I do not need to know. What about you?
Unfortunately, deployment comes with the condition of information being disseminated on a need-to-know basis. As a deployed wife, I am not privy to discussions that directly affect my husband militarily. I cannot enter operation cells, step on a battlefield, and know details of location or mission. I may hear rumors, but until someone informs me through official channels, I am in the dark. Such situations force me to exercise trust in the military leadership.
The journey for the Israelites brought them to Mt. Sinai where Moses would meet God on behalf of the people. God did not allow the Israelites to go up the mountain and be a part of the conversation. They had to trust in Moses as their leader and believe that he would tell them what they needed to know. God kept even his select people in the dark regarding what was going on between him and Moses at that moment. Eventually, Moses informed the Israelites of all they needed to know about God and his grace.
The purpose of the Word of God is to teach us everything we need to know about God and his grace. Over thousands of years and by numerous authors of the Holy Scriptures, God revealed his plan of redemption through Jesus.
My sister, the plan of redemption is good news we all need to know. Praise God, he does not keep us in the dark!
What is your response to not knowing details about your husband’s military situation? How can you be an agent of peace when others may be frustrated about such details?
Lord, grant me peace when I am frustrated with unknowns. Help me to trust that you know the beginning from the end, and I can trust and not be afraid. Use me to bless others and allow me to be an agent of your peace today. Amen.
Truth in the Midst of Turmoil
And God spoke all these words, saying…-Exodus 20:1
Rules, rules, and more rules. Just like some people see the military as only a life of rules and regulations, there are those who view the Ten Commandments as a list of rules impossible to keep and made to be broken. If this is your view, you miss a rich and endearing truth. The Ten Commandments are more than rules to live by; they are words that offer insight into the nature and character of a loving and just God.
Do not miss the message held in Exodus 20:1: God himself uttered the words. He issued the commandments based on his personal and sovereign dealings with people whom he loved and who were to love and obey him.
Thousands of years later, the public display of the Ten Commandments is an issue argued by lawyers in the highest courts of the land. Their mention brings contempt to some and comfort to others. The astonishing aspect of the Ten Commandments is that they were not carefully researched, debated, and organized by the wisest men in the best schools or seminaries of the day. As stated, God gave them in the midst of national turmoil for Israel. The Israelites left their homes, were chased by an army, lived day-to-day depending on food from heaven to survive, and never knew if the next place they moved to would have water. In essence, God turned their lives upside down and on the surface, their future looked uncertain. In the midst of this turmoil, God revealed divine truths that not only gave guidance then, but also have been words of truth for every generation since.
So what does that mean to a girl missing her husband? Challenging circumstances such as deployment can bring a feeling of turmoil. However, it may be during such a time that you find God come to you with a fresh understanding of his divine truth. Such truth can serve as a lasting guide not just for this deployment but also throughout your life. Look in God’s Word; see what he has to show you.
It was during a deployment that Marie sought out a Bible study with some other women in her husband’s unit. In Marie’s own words:
Reflecting back on four deployments, I can clearly see how God drew me closer to him during those times. This happened mostly through studying the Bible with other military wives. There, I found a safe place to explore God for who he is. God used his word and the relationships I developed in those studies to prune and grow me in my faith.
What are some things God is teaching you or has taught you during deployment? How have you made yourself open and available to learn things about God during this time?
Lord, I pray for a teachable spirit. Help me to be open to the lessons and truths that will make a difference in the way I live my life today and in the future. Amen.
Tempted in the Downtime
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”-Exodus 32:1
When Glendon Perkins became a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, his wife Kay knew she would need strength to survive and to raise their four children. But she didn’t know how much strength it would take. And she didn’t know she would need it for six and a half years. “Now it seems like it was such a short time,” Kay Perkins said. “While I was living through it, though, it seemed like an eternity.”
Kay Perkins waited for her husband to return from war for over six years. She was faithful. She was vigilant. She even found ways to help other wives who were waiting for their husbands to return. Glendon and Kay did not become a negative statistic of war.
The Israelites needed Kay Perkins around while they waited for Moses to return from atop the mountain. When Moses went on Operation Ten Commandments in the clouds with God, the Israelites down below did not know if he was just delayed or if he would even return at all. Moses was gone approximately six weeks when the Israelites became impatient. Their impatience implied that God had lost control of the situation. Their faith in God was weak, so in the downtime they decided to take matters into their own hands. A later generation describes the scene in the Psalms: “But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel. But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; … They made a calf in Hebron and worshiped a metal image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.” (Psalm 106:13–14, 19–20)
The Israelites went to Aaron and asked him to make a god they could see and touch. Aaron took their gold earrings and formed them into a golden calf. The guidelines for their new god allowed them to engage in immoral behavior. The situation that unfolded illustrates that when people give up on God, they turn to something else to satisfy their basic human nature.
Sister, guard your heart and mind in the downtime when mentally you know your husband will return, but emotionally it feels like it will never happen. Some have convinced themselves that adultery, substance abuse, or excessive shopping and eating can replace faithful waiting. Such activities only serve as an insufficient and superficial replacement for a close relationship with God that will enable you to wait faithfully.
What are some boundaries you can set for yourself in the downtime as you wait for your husband to return? What danger is there in dwelling on the thought that deployment is taking too long?
Lord, it can be hard to wait. I grow impatient and restless and sometimes my imagination gets the best of me. Deepen my trust in you during times of waiting. Give me a calm assurance that your presence is with me and the waiting will soon be over. Amen.
Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.-Exodus 33:11a
If you could speak to your husband’s commanding officer today, what would you say to him or her about your husband, yourself, and your family?
During this difficult time in the early years of the nation of Israel, Moses had the unique privilege of speaking face to face with God—as a man speaks to a friend. Moses was at home in God’s presence. There was unrestricted dialogue between Moses and God. Moses spoke to God in a personal way about issues concerning the Israelites. He even spoke to God about his own personal struggles. This was a unique relationship. No other Israelites could speak with God in this way. The rest of the Israelites had to stand at the door of the tent. For them, God was at a distance.
Today, we have the privilege to have conversation with God in this same manner as Moses, based on the work of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have access to God the Father. We too may have unrestricted dialogue with God. The Holy Spirit helps us verbalize and communicate with God in ways we could not do on our own. The Holy Spirit knows the deep things in our heart that we may not even be able to verbalize. Romans 8:26 offers this description:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26).
Ultimately, that means our level of communication with God today can go beyond even the unique relationship God had with Moses!
The face-to-face discussions of Moses with God resulted in direction and renewed determination to lead. God filled Moses with the delight of his abiding presence.
So sister, pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea or coffee, and sit down with the Lord. Tell him the deep issues on your heart.
If you do not practice writing in a prayer journal, consider starting the practice. Such a journal can be a tool to facilitate spiritual growth and nurture your communication with God. How has prayer helped you through this deployment thus far? Using Scripture is an effective way to pray. Consider the prayer below taken directly from Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Father, help me in my weakness. I do not know what to pray as I ought. Thank you for your Spirit, who intercedes for me with groans too deep for words. Amen. (See Romans 8:26).
An Answer vs. The Answer
Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.”-Exodus 33:12a
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”-Exodus 33:14
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a step-by-step guide for navigating deployment? My guess is someone has attempted to write such a book, magazine article, or blog post. But who are they kidding? There are no formulas or systematic steps to make sure everything goes according to plan. Deployment is something you just have to go through. It reminds me of the children’s verse about going on a bear hunt:
Can’t go under it.
Can’t go over it.
Can’t go around it.
Got to go through it.
It is the how to go through a situation that can trip us on the way.
Moses found himself in need of direction on how to get through the desert and into the Promised Land. He came to God looking for an answer as if to say, “Show me the step-by-step way to get from here to there.” He had a real need for God to give him practical guidance. Face it—this had not been an easy journey. The Israelites were a challenging group of people to lead and, besides, who knew what dangers they might encounter ahead.
At this point, God added a new dimension to the journey when he said to Moses, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Wow! In these few words God did not just provide an answer, God wanted Moses to see he was the answer.
God reassured Moses that he would bring the people through the desert to the Promised Land. He promised rest, which usually meant an end to evil, an enemy, hostility, or adversity. More than that, God promised his very presence.
In the Gospel according to John, Jesus encountered a woman who was drawing water at a well (John 4:5–42). The woman was at the well for a practical reason—she needed water for her physical thirst. Jesus offered her living water. He did not just provide an answer; he wanted her to see he was the answer.
In the process of asking God how to get through a situation, do not miss the message that God wants not only to provide you practical help; he wants to provide you with his presence. Let God show you he is the answer you need.
Where do you fall on the trust versus control continuum? What makes it hard for you to trust God as the answer?
Lord, forgive me when I grasp for control. Help me relinquish control to you as the answer to my every need. Amen
Resources & Info
Resources to help you and other military wives in your community.
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