David: Stressed or Blessed?
In what ways have you seen the Lord establish your way?
A Permanent Change of Station is stressful. When Samuel anointed him, David might not have anticipated that packing up and moving—at times with very short notice—would be a necessary aspect of serving as king. God authorized each step of David’s journey from unnoticed shepherd boy to king. This week we learn from David’s psalms that God’s doing the same for you.
About This Journey
Relocation is one of the top stressors in Military life. Learning to be content in our circumstances is hard, and too often we allow complaint and comparison to rob us of daily joy and peace. In “Determined to Thrive in Relocation”, we study how God’s presence and direction during times of relocation can bring peace in the midst of change.
This Week's Readings
A Change of Course
And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.-1 Samuel 16:10-13
When you put all you can do in the hands of the Lord, he can make it more than
The day the prophet Samuel knocked on the door of Jesse’s home changed David’s life forever. God had sent Samuel to recruit the one he had chosen to be Israel’s next king. Instead of a signature on an official form, Samuel sealed the deal by pouring oil on David’s head. The anointing of oil carried a contractual or covenental significance between God and David.
As with David, the day your husband signed his name on Uncle Sam’s dotted line changed the course of his life—and yours. God used a prophet with David, but the Lord can just as easily use a military recruiter to set you on a new path.
It is probable that with the oil still dripping from his chin, David began to mentally and spiritually pack his bags for the inevitable first move. Recruiters say, “Join the military and see the world.” The world is a big place. After your husband raised his right hand, and before the movers knocked on your door, the important question was, “Where are we going first?”
The verbal picture the recruiter painted of your first assignment location likely looked different from what was printed in black and white on the contract above your husband’s signature. David probably asked himself some of the same questions you did. After all, Samuel anointed David to be king when he was still too young to enlist in the military, and he did not become king until he was thirty years old. David, and eventually his family, made multiple moves before he unpacked his bags in the palace.
Sister, God authorized each step of David’s journey from unnoticed shepherd boy to king. He was at work in all the awkward situations and moves in which David found himself. When Samuel anointed him, David might not have anticipated that packing up and moving, at times with very short notice, would be a necessary aspect of serving as king.
For military families, even though PCS includes the provision of professional packers, the preparation for a PCS move can be awkward and trying. Yes, I heard you shout, “Amen!” This week we will look at a few of David’s PCS moves. Perhaps we will learn something that will help us navigate our own PCS process.
What does 1 Samuel 16:7 tell you about how God views you? What are some of the things PCS season reveals about your concerns and desires?
Lord, guide me today in the way I should go. May my words and actions be pleasing to you as I walk through this day. Give me grace to triumph in any awkward and trying moment. Amen.
From Pasture to Palace
Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.-1 Samuel 16:19-21
David’s first PCS was from the pasture to the palace. If David had been married at the time Samuel recruited him to be king, his wife might have pictured in her mind how the furniture would look in a king’s palace. However, David’s first move in service to his nation was not directly to the office of the Commander-in-Chief. Sometimes the picture in our mind of what a duty station will be like may prove different when the moving truck rolls through the gate. Though David would one day be king, his first headgear was not a crown but that of a servant. He would make several moves before his own family set up house in a palace.
The historic quarters assigned to my family at our first duty station were charming. The charm faded when I met the nocturnal two-inch creatures who thought they were permanent residents. New challenges give us an opportunity to learn new things. My husband found a way to avoid sharing our home with these unwanted occupants—Roach Prufe®!
You cannot know all the details of what to expect when you PCS. The recruiter or military sponsor may have painted a rosy picture of the installation or overestimated how much free time your husband would have to spend with you. Nevertheless, focus on the big picture of God’s plan. David’s path to the position for which Samuel recruited him had some unexpected turns and detours. Yet, God was mapping out the course for David to follow. One of the keys to David’s success was his recognition and reliance on God’s plan for his life. He later wrote, “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23). Trust him to establish your way as well.
Many years later, I still have fond memories of living in that first set of quarters. The other residents (the two-legged kind) were great neighbors, and the community was a perfect place for my two boys to safely play and make friends. God was indeed ordering my family’s steps and the place where we laid our heads. As an added bonus, we learned the first thing to do when we signed for quarters—buy some Roach Prufe.
Read and meditate on Psalm 37:23. In what ways have you seen the Lord establish your way? How are you delighting in the Lord wherever you are in the relocation process?
Lord, thank you for the promise that you will establish the direction of my life. Help me to delight in you today and trust you for my future. Amen.
The Reward of Small Talk
As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.-1 Samuel 18:1
My birthplace is Tennessee. A southern upbringing instilled the importance of courtesy. (I was actually voted “Most Courteous” in high school.) When I became a military wife, I knew how to be “sweet” and courteous. I could match anyone’s small talk and smile no matter what I was thinking. But y’all, I’m a girl who is not content with surface relationships and I wondered how that would jive with the transient nature of military life. Small talk can get tiresome but it is the initial step toward friendship.
I quickly learned that the shared experience of military life is rich soil for friendship to flourish. The idea of moving and going through the process of making friends—again—can be exhausting. I felt that way with every PCS move. I often wished I could hand out a “friend résumé” to offset the initial awkward new girl stage and skip the small talk. Each time we moved, though, I would polish my “Most Courteous” crown and begin the process of introducing myself—again.
Do you know what happened? I found other military wives who wanted to go deeper than small talk. Over the years, I connected with women who shared my joys and frustrations and I made lifelong friends who are like family.
1 Samuel 18:1 notes that Jonathan’s soul was knit to the soul of David. The use of the word “knit” implies a family-like relationship. The story would make more sense if Jonathan looked at David as a rival, since David had been anointed to be the next king. After all, as King Saul’s son, Jonathan was next in line for the throne. Out of jealousy, King Saul wanted to kill David, yet his son made a covenant with David to treat him as a brother. Here, in David’s first assignment, he met his best friend for life.
This transient military lifestyle seems the most unlikely place to nurture deep and lasting relationships, but our overlapping lives bind us together. Not everyone will be open to being a friend, but I guarantee someone will be looking for a friend like you! Sister, a new location is a new opportunity for new friendships. If you stay in the military long enough, you may begin to chronicle the places you live by the friends you make in each place. Military installations may close down, but the friends you make will last a lifetime.
Take some time today and thank God for the lifelong friends you have made in the military. Go one step further and connect with one or more of these friends via text, email, or, better yet, a writing note.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of friendship. Thank you for this military life that has brought me friends who feel like family. Bless my friends today and continue to knit our hearts together. Amen.
What “PCS” Really Means
David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.-1 Samuel 22:1-2
The Department of Defense’s acronym for relocation is PCS, which stands for Permanent Change of Station. A PCS normally results in a new job, a new home, a new school, and a new community. You find new places to shop, eat, and explore. Most importantly, you always find new people. Interesting people make up every military community, each with a unique life story to tell. You can research many facts about your next PCS location, but there is one fascinating aspect of your next move that you cannot know until you arrive—the people you will meet. In fact, PCS could stand for People’s Captivating Stories!
King Saul became jealous of David and his success and sought to kill him. When David fled for his life, he ended up in a wilderness location surrounded by four hundred people who were trying to get away from difficult situations and start a new life. Some of the people were in debt. Others were simply not content with the direction of their lives. A few may have been fleeing from the authorities. The Scriptures paint the notion these folks were passionate for change. Reading about David’s associates makes you wonder if they were the first ones to sing the jody or cadence call some troops sing today: “Got a letter in the mail; go to war or go to jail.” These men joined David and eventually they became known as his “mighty men.” They were men who could say, “Don’t judge my future from my past.”
Recently I rejoiced with a young military wife as she celebrated the completion of a beautiful new home. Building a new home is a major life event, but for this friend, her new home was uncommon. I was privileged to hear her story of growing up, often homeless, with a dim view of the future. In desperation, and as a way out of poverty, she joined the military. She met people in the military who introduced her to Jesus, and today she serves as a faithful leader in her chapel women’s ministry. She is one of the many mighty women I am proud to know.
In the military you meet folks from all walks of life that you may never otherwise meet. The military creates community where the paths of people can cross in an environment that produces bonds that tie us together. May I encourage you to share your story and listen to the stories of others? Find those who are eager to create a new future and be mighty women of God together.
Who are some of the people you have met since being a military spouse whom you would not have otherwise encountered? How have these people blessed you?
Lord, thank you for new beginnings. Thank you that in you we can forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13).
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.-1 Samuel 30:6
The military offers checklists for the practical logistics of a PCS—before, during, and after. You can download handy lists just begging for red checks regarding everything you need from packing to setting up your new home.
While such lists are helpful, especially for unorganized people like me, I wish there was an Emotional Logistics Checklist. Logistics is a term the military uses for handling the details of an operation. I must admit that a PCS often brings logistics that are hard for me to handle. I need a checklist for getting to the other side of:
No matter what spin you put on the event, one or more of these emotional logistics will accompany your PCS. You cannot deny that moving is a distressing experience.
Relocation can make you feel like an exile with loss of place and person. British military wife Sue Jervis writes of the relocation experience, “There can be few other situations that remove individuals so completely from the people, places, possessions, and projects that make their lives meaningful and underpin their identities.” Preach it, Sue!
One of David’s PCS moves took him to the village of Ziklag to escape the jealous wrath of King Saul. While there, he went on a raiding party to another village. When he returned he found that his enemies had burned Ziklag and had taken captive the women and children. In anger and grief, he and his men wept to the point of exhaustion. David’s men took their grief to the extreme and wanted to stone him. David’s identity went from hero to villain. Nothing about his circumstances was encouraging.
The time in Ziklag was one of the greatest crises David faced. Sister, don’t miss how David dealt with this emotional logistic: “He strengthened himself in the LORD.”
He did not turn to other sources to numb his pain. He did not have supporting agencies from which to seek advice. Google search was not even a dream. However, he had a personal faith in God that could sustain him in the time of crisis. I am thankful for the multiple resources available to provide help with my emotional logistics, but I am careful not to overlook the best resource to handle them: The Lord.
What PCS details cause you to become discouraged? In what ways you can strengthen yourself in the Lord?
Lord, I cry to you for help. I know you will hear and deliver me out of all my troubles. You are near to the broken hearted and you save the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:17–18).
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