Military life can be a little bit different than “civilian” life. The biggest difference, or at least the one I get asked about most, is moving. “How do you move so often? How do you make friends? Will your kids ever be normal?” Okay, I made up that last one, but the idea of moving as frequently as we do is foreign to some.
It is about that time again here in Kansas. We head out in December to an unknown destination – we should find out eventually, but just not yet. I have learned a lot from moving, like what to have movers pack and what we will take with us, what kind of furniture to buy so it has a better chance of making the move, and how to survive on sandwiches and air mattresses. Many lessons learned along the way, but one most important of all.
The biggest struggle people see with moving is leaving something behind, usually in the form of a home church and friendships. There is truth to that. Of all the challenges that come with moving, these two would be my most difficult. I don’t get sappy and cry, or sulk for days, but I do find some along the way that I wish I could take with me. We struggle sometimes finding the church home God has picked out for us, and have to catch ourselves when we start comparing with the one we came from. God puts us in a very different place every time.
In these moments, the temptation is to look back and long for something different than what God gave me today, but doing so would make me disobedient to the call of Jesus on my life. We are doing exactly what God has called us to do. A cost is required to following Jesus. Check it out.
“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”” (Luke 9:57-62)
In this conversation, Jesus talked to three different people. The first said he would follow wherever Jesus went, no stipulations. The second two said they would follow Jesus as well, but wanted to take care of something else first. Their “something else” was legitimate, mind you, but not nearly as important as following the Savior. God does not want us to just disregard our family, friends, or church home, He just wants to keep us from looking back.
My driving is not very good sometimes, (surprise, I know) but I have one issue I struggle with most of all. The one thing I have struggled with since the day I took defensive driving in high school is to make sure that the vehicle stays on course even when I am looking over my shoulder. My children have inherited this same trait when they ride their bikes. I look back over my shoulder, and have to concentrate with everything I have to simply stay on course.
I have a feeling Jesus knew there would be people just like me. He gave instructions 2000 years ago to keep your eye on the prize, keep looking forward, following the path He lays out. When we start to look back whether in wishfulness or regret, we start to veer of course. My driving is the perfect example! I have learned the same thing in this military life. I have to keep looking forward to see the Savior. I have to concentrate on what He calls me to do in the place that He planted me or I start to veer of course as well.
I sometimes start to think about the friends we have made along the journey and the times along the path that we have been able to serve and grow in a community of believers. I think how cool it would be to get all those friends in the same place and put all those churches together. I simply have to make sure that I look back with admiration and thankfulness on the tapestry He has woven in my life and not with longing. I think He wants the same for all of us, military or not, to follow the words of Paul: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). The cost is worth it. Press on.