Freedom. On Monday, the United States celebrated its 240th birthday. Two hundred and forty years of standing on our own two feet, as it were. Of figuring out what that means. Of discerning where the balance lies between the freedom to do as you please and the responsibility that infers.
Because all freedom confers responsibility.
Oh, I know. Most of us like to talk about freedom, but we’d also prefer to stay away from the responsibility aspect of it. It’s nice to talk about the freedom of speech or religion or security within our homes.
- It’s hard to talk about the damage our words can cause.
- It’s sometimes uncomfortable to practice peace with faiths very different from our own.
- It’s difficult to know when you should break through a door — whether that door is physical, mental, or emotional — to reach the person within.
Preparing to face a giant
First Samuel 17 tells of the time that a giant of a man stood before King Saul and his men. “This day I defy the armies of Israel,” he said. “Give me a man and let us fight each other.”
Yes. It was Goliath.
Twice a day for forty days, Goliath issued his demand. Twice a day for forty days, Saul and his army cowered in fear and uncertainty.
When David arrived on the scene, he heard the giant and immediately stepped forward to face him. When King Saul questioned him, David replied without arrogance.
Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.
You see, David understood an important principle that we know but often neglect. Preparation for battle comes in the years and months before the battle lines are drawn. Thankfully, David did his homework, so he was ready to hand freedom to Israel when Goliath stood in their way.
Good battle preparation leads to freedom
Our battles tend to look different today. None of us are facing literal lions or bears, and we don’t stand for hours in meadows guarding sheep. But the principles of preparation are the same.
First, gain wisdom.
Whatever training ground God’s placed before you, go through it. David honed his skill by practicing with his sling not just when danger appeared, but also during the hours of peace. Over the years he would have learned other lessons, like where the lions and bears liked to hide, how they approached the sheep, and what sounds gave them away.
He also would have learned more about himself, like when he was weakest or more prone to mistakes. A wise person learns the dangers around him but doesn’t neglect to learn himself.
Second, obey instructions.
What good does it do you to hear valuable advice from a trusted resource if you never put it into practice? It is through the daily, seemingly inconsequential acts of obedience that you build the mental, physical, and spiritual muscle to face the coming battles.
Think about one of the best quarterbacks within the National Football League. He doesn’t merely go out and have a great game.
- He shows up for practice with his team.
- He shows up in the gym to work his muscles, heart and lungs.
- He shows up for strategy meetings with the coach.
- He shows up to watch old games to see what he’s doing wrong and how the opposing team works.
- He takes the time in the kitchen to eat healthy.
- He takes the time to rest his body.
Little, daily choices work together to train us and to show God how serious we are. Sunday morning is not the time for the quarterback to catch up on his sleep or to eat healthy. It’s the time to suit up, show up, and trust his training.
Which leads me to the third step.
Trust the Holy Spirit.
John 14:26 tells us that two of the jobs of the Holy Spirit are to teach us and to remind us what we’ve learned.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
We don’t have to stress ourselves over what we need to learn. Don’t worry so much about which books of the Bible you should be reading or which verses you should be memorizing. Just get in God’s Word on a consistent, daily basis and trust the Holy Spirit to His job.
A giveaway during my July 4th celebration of freedom
A good stock of books that point you back to the Bible are always a good idea. And a friend and I want to help you fill your shelves (or a friend’s shelves) with such books.
In order to be entered to win, all you have to do is comment below! Yes, it’s really that easy. I’ll pick a winner next week.
Here are the EIGHT books you’ll win ($46 value!):
Resilient Warriors by Robert F Dees, Major General, US Army, Retired (autographed paperback)
Whether on the battlefield or in the board room, the home front, or the highways of life… We are all Warriors! Resilient Warriors describes the realities of this lifelong fight, and provides relevant, enduring principles of resilience for warriors in every foxhole of life. Our military, as well as those in every other marketplace across this land, need resilience like never before. Resilient Warriors provides urgently needed information and inspiration to help us all recover from the wounds of the past, weather the storms of the present, and build resilience for the future challenges of life and liberty we will most certainly face.
The Warrior’s Bride: Biblical Strategies to Help the Military Spouse Thrive by Kathy Barnett and Carrie Daws (autographed paperback)
The call came down from Command, and your warrior husband is out the door, leaving you behind to handle whatever he has left undone. Whether it’s the day-to-day monotony, the inevitable appliance that breaks, or the months without his presence beside you, being a military spouse brings challenges few appreciate. Yet God sees you and longs for you to boldly step into His plan. He purposely chose you for this moment- for your man. He wants to give you abundantly more than what you have right now and desires you to thrive as your warrior’s bride.
Beyond Warrior’s Bride ebook series by Kathy Barnett and Carrie Daws, including:
Your Extended Family: A Military Spouse’s Biblical Guide to Surviving Within and Without Your Family
Family. They can be one of our biggest blessings and one of our biggest stressors. Family members that don’t understand the military system can complicate your life, and sometimes the best-intentioned relative can undercut everything you are trying to build with your husband.
Living far away can also be hard if you have a medical emergency. Deployments and high ops tempos give loneliness and depression the opportunity to take over. Are there really any practical answers? What does the Bible say about dealing with and living apart from family.
Deployments are inevitable in military life. Short or long, relatively safe or extremely dangerous, time away from our men is standard issue. How can the family left behind best deal with the transition before and after deployment? And what should we do if he comes home different? Those who deal with long separations due to a career know that the first weeks back can be trickier than when you first began living together as a couple, particularly if the mission was stressful or life-threatening. While the Bible doesn’t specifically mention reintegration, God still gives us great advice on preparing our hearts and minds so that our marriage can thrive even through Reintegration.
We’ve got orders! As many military spouses know, these simple words change your life. Whether you are moving just a couple of states over or around the world, a flurry of activity is about to consume your calendar. Where do you start? How do you begin to process all your emotions or prepare your children to say goodbye to their friends? How do you know if you need to host a yard sale or even what your weight limit is? Take a deep breath and know that help is available. This book and the free moving checklist will get you started in the right direction.
Money. It’s one of the biggest stressors in marriages. Many live paycheck-to-paycheck, struggling to both cover all the bills and save for retirement. Often husband and wife disagree over petty expenses, forgetting that they are on the same team. But money doesn’t have to be a constant battle. Not only does the Bible give a lot of guidance, but God also provided examples of people getting it right. With a shift in focus and a little disciplined effort, you can gain control over your finances instead of your finances controlling you.
Other military spouses can be one of the biggest stressors in a wife’s life. From gossipers to back-biters to spouse shamers, the problem is reaching epidemic proportions, and many don’t know what to do about it. What if you could find a better way? Instead of attacking the problem-women head on or avoiding all women entirely, what if you could find women worth knowing and cherishing? No matter where you are, God placed around you women of great value, women who strive to love Him first, and women who want to love and encourage you. Instead of resigning yourself to a life of loneliness, let me show you who to avoid and what characteristics to look for in quality friends.
The years have been hard, filled with deployments, trainings, moves, forced flexibility, and uncertainty. Retirement finally looms, yet a fresh uncertainty takes hold. Gone are the days of someone telling you where to live and providing a house for you. No longer will someone tell your man where to go and what to take with him. Now all those choices are yours and his. Where do you start? Among the plethora of options open to you, pieces of the military will likely always follow you. As your ETS (Expiration Term of Service) nears, learn from retired military spouses Kathy Barnett and Carrie Daws, who have already walked the road you face. Make the journey forward a little easier by arming yourself with what they’ve discovered in retirement.