Preparing for freedom, or at least its celebration. On Thursday, the United States will celebrate its 243rd birthday. Two hundred and forty-three 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 for Freedom
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.”
Those of you who have been in church for years may recognize those words. 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 (verses 34-37).
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. Few of us will face literal lions or bears or spend 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 do His job.
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Six books. Essentially, six chapters to add on to the end of The Warrior’s Bride. Although all are written with military families in mind, most of them are broadly applicable to civilians too!
Your Extended Family: Whether you live close or far away, problems can abound without good boundaries and agreement between you and your spouse.
Reintegration: How do you prepare for deployment, love your spouse well during deployment, and best reintegrate him back into the family afterward?
Moving: In addition to my best advice, you’ll find a hugely helpful checklist!
Finances: Ugh! Money is the downfall for a tremendous number of relationships. Don’t let it divide you from your spouse!
Other Military Spouses: Even for the civilians, other women can be difficult. But this book helps you find great friends!
Retirement: While this book directly addresses military retirement, if you are considering a major job change, you might find this book helpful.
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