Enlisting in our nation’s great armed services is a choice made by the few and the proud. Those who join up are strong souls, possessing a mammoth desire to serve their country and an unwavering willingness to complete whatever mission is set before them – no matter the personal sacrifice.
Anchors aweigh – to the shores of Tripoli – over hill over dale – and off into the wild blue yonder they go. They may not ever know what’s next, but they’re trained, prepared, expectant – and they have the support of their buddies.
There’s no finer group of people, although there’s one that comes mighty close.
Last week, a friend’s husband passed away suddenly. He was too young to go – and she was too young to stay – alone.
Those who have lost their spouses are walking a tough road. Would-be soldiers are enticed and rewarded with free education and exotic travel (and they should be), but in great contrast, there are no promised perks for the widowed. They never drove down to a recruiting office and signed up, yet here they are, on the front lines in some kind of surreal struggle. Somehow, after a long period of dreaded preparation, or maybe suddenly, with absolutely no warning, the two who had become one now feels like one-half. Manuevering through their day becomes equivalent to a military mission – dodging the onslaught of questions, munching on rations that require little preparation, surviving long days and even longer nights.
But here’s the thing. There was no training for this mission.
The women I admire most are those who “joined the ranks” before they were “of age.” I grew up in a church of very wise men and women. They were faithful, and they trusted God in big and small ways. When the rubber met the road – they just put one boot in front of the other and kept walking. They placed every single Scripture they had memorized into imaginary grenades and hurled them all day and all night, if necessary, at the Enemy who tempted them to quit on God. They fought hard, they fought back, and they fought well.
Over time, they became generals in a different kind of army.
Some of these women have been widowed for years and years and years, yet they smile and live fully and trust God completely.
Trust – that’s the weapon in their arsenal that has been the key to their survival. Just that.
If God allowed it, He would get them through it. And through it, they got.
These women exercise, laugh, teach Bible studies, pray for people and keep color on their hair. They have a beauty that comes from deep, deep within, and it has kept their peaceful faces nearly wrinkle free.
This week, as I’ve prayed for my friend and felt so heartsick for her, I also pondered how I would respond if it were me. I remember hearing Beth Moore say we should try to keep from learning everything the hard way – we should attempt to learn some things off someone else’s page.
So, let’s learn this one off the pages of their stories.
Man or woman, we need to get ready. We need to work on our survival skills. Let’s sharpen our swords and build up our stamina, hiding more of God’s word in our hearts, that if even the most dreaded kind of trial besets us, we can stand firm against the Enemy who would love nothing more than for us to crumble in a heap of disappointment and despair.
Over hill, over dale – into the wild blue yonder, may the Lord rise us up, generals every one, trained for battle by the ones who have gone before and have shown us how to do it right.
Family members and friends who have lost a spouse before you got to live a long life together, you are loved. Your courage is an inspiring legacy of faith and fortitude. May God richly and abundantly bless you today as you forge on.
Encouraging intentional adventure and the faith of a soldier,
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