I’ve often wondered how to know with certainty that I am living my life according to the Lord’s will and His purpose for me. Is my gut the voice of God? Or are the desires of my heart His blueprint for my being?
I have personally felt His voice of guidance and direction most clearly by His firm grip on my heart — and with time I am learning that where He sends me is where He will be nearest to me. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). The more aligned my life is with His will, the stronger I feel His presence, His faithfulness and His steadfast love.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
Christ has used my life as a military spouse in several ways to draw me nearer to Him. For it is when we live life according to His will, that we allow Christ to dwell within us and work through us, and I’m not sure any relationship can get closer than that.
1: When my spouse cannot [fill in the blank], Christ can.
“We come into our marriages driven by all kinds of fears, desires, and needs. If I look to my marriage to fill the God-sized spiritual vacuum in my heart, I will not be in a position to serve my spouse. Only God can fill a God-sized hole. Until God has the proper place in my life, I will always be complaining that my spouse is not loving me well enough, not respecting me enough, not supporting me enough.”
I always come back to this quote from Timothy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. Keller explains that not even our spouses can ever meet all of our human needs. The Lord is the only One with the capacity to completely fulfill us. For “You open your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16). He designed us this way so we would more readily seek Him and follow Him. For, if it was possible that we could depend on humans and earthly things to fulfill us the way that only He can, then why would we ever have an inclination to call upon His glorious riches?
There is undoubted truth behind Keller’s message of wisdom, and I have found this concept to be only magnified as a military spouse. As a military spouse, not only will your spouse sometimes fail to love you how you need to be loved (as any other spouse will), he may fail to come home to you every night, to be there for some of the big moments. At times, he will fail to put you and your family first, because the Lord has called Him elsewhere. You learn quickly that your dependence on Christ alone is ultimately what will fill you and make you whole. He is the only constant, the only one who is always there to hold your hand, to listen to your cries, to wipe your tears, to smile when you find joy. For He is the God “who takes hold of your right hand, and says to you, do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13).
2: When I find comfort in Earthly things, He pulls me back toward the Heavens.
As a military spouse, you cannot rely on deeply rooted friendships or nearby family as safety nets for security and companionship. You learn what it is to have no friends–and once you do make friends, you try not to cling too tightly to them because you know they’re not meant to stay.
The Lord seems to intervene in my life most often in the times when I’ve finally built up yet another collection of Earthly comforts. He does not let me remain in my comfort zones for very long. It is when I’ve acclimated to a new duty station and I begin feeling less dependent on Him because of good friends, a familiar community, a home and neighborhood that I love–that He allows the Army to move us again. It is as if He takes the page with the beautiful painting I’ve made of my new life, flips it over, and tells me to begin a new painting. He fills my palette with the familiar colors of loneliness and discomfort, and he becomes the paintbrush that allows me to create my next picture. He does not do this to harm me, in fact quite the opposite. He is teaching me a lesson again and again: It is not the earthly “constants” that keep me grounded; rather it is He. The continual process of letting go and starting over reminds me to fix my eyes on Jesus.
3: He has made me more Eternity minded.
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of Heaven…Think about things of heaven, not the things of earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).
God has called me to a lifestyle where it would be easy to spend many of my days dwelling over lost time with my husband, the moments he’s missed, the experiences my son will endure because of the life he was born into, the relationships with extended family he will miss out on because we live far away. I could easily hang onto the bitterness about all of this, about missed milestones, holidays and anniversaries.
But the Lord uses my disappointments to renew my mind and shift my focus to the Heavens. It is those times that I remember He has promised our suffering–but He has also promised our redemption. He said “I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4).
I’m learning that the purpose of my marriage is not only to please myself and my needs, nor the needs of my husband; it is to glorify God. He did not design our unique marriage to be spent together each day. In fact, He equipped us in our marriage to survive gaps and periods of months apart. Sometimes, my husband and I are glorifying Him by existing in different parts of the world, and I’m learning to be okay with that. Meanwhile, I do squeeze all of the time and joy I can out of the time we do have together.
The military spouse life is not always an easy road, even as I walk beside the Lord. It has been a painful process at times, and I still get ‘let down’ and feel disappointed when things don’t go my way. But I am slowly shifting my perspective to the big picture of eternity, and that mindset takes the sting out of the harsh realities I face;
And I am reminded by the cross that our earthly sacrifices are nothing compared to the sacrifice of our precious Jesus. How we live here on this Earth should be all for Him, and for His glory alone.
4: He has blessed me with many spiritual opportunities, experiences, and relationships.
As a military spouse, the Lord has given me more opportunities than I would have had otherwise to meet so many other strong Christians, hear more testimonies, share my testimony with more listeners, and see God working in so many different places. In our three years in the Army, we have become a part of two wonderful church families who have blessed us in countless ways. They are a big part of why we felt “at home” as quickly as we did, and the reason we’ve had so much support all along the way. So far in our Army experience, the hardest goodbyes have been to our church families.
5: He has made my calling clear and known to me from the beginning, and He is always faithful.
The Lord once called me to be an elementary school teacher for two years. He is calling me now to be a devoted mother and homemaker. A few years ago when my fiance got down on one knee, He was calling me to become a military spouse.
Agreeing to marry my husband was the first act of trust I put into the Lord about His call for my life as a military spouse. There was a period of time I was unsure if that life was what God had chosen for me. Shortly before we got engaged, I parted ways with my now-husband for some time of praying and seeking clarity before making one of the biggest decisions of my life. The few months without him left me feeling more unfulfilled and directionless as ever, and it was in my emptiness God made His path for me clear. While I doubted myself and tried to cling to what I had envisioned for my own life, He believed in me and pushed me. He helped me to understand my plan was not His and my well being would be under His authority if I followed Him.
The more I’ve trusted Him, the more He has proven himself faithful. Through all the struggles, He has poured down countless blessings into my life to ensure I can endure the calling; blessings like the people who stood beside me in the delivery room when I had my son, the homes in my neighborhood that were filled with friends and not strangers–friends who felt the most like family at times, who filled lonely deployment weekends with companionship, and He gave me church families that welcomed me and guided me and ran to me in my times of need, just as Jesus would.
And when I remind myself that the struggles and sacrifices are glorifying Him, I never lose my sense of hope or trust. I still get sad and I still get scared, but it’s okay because I have His arms to fall into any time I need.
It has been in my time as a military spouse that I have seen the hand of God in my life more than ever before. I have seen how He is present everywhere and always. I have watched in awe as His faithfulness has followed us wherever he’s sent us, and I know that it will continue to follow us wherever we go.