Gas chambers, obstacles, and uniforms… oh my!

Yes, those are the things my partner in life is facing this week… yikes!  It has been a challenge being separated from my husband, but this week it all becomes real in a new sense.  All of his PT gets put to the test on the obstacle course, which he has been stressing since he first signed his papers!  He also has to face the dreaded gas chamber… no explanation needed on that one.  And, finally, he gets issued his real uniform, complete with his name and the real Air Force logo.  He is pretty excited about that- the most excited I’ve ever seen him get over clothes!

It’s amazing that we are halfway through this first separation period.  In ways it seems like years, yet somehow it seems to be going quickly.  In four weeks I’ve received three real calls (not scripted, 60-second calls) and seven letters, and with each call and letter I am filled with more pride and respect for my husband than I ever dreamed possible.  His faith has grown immensely in this short time, and his confidence in sharing God’s love with others astounds me.  In his last letter he mentioned that the instructors were giving him a hard time about always smiling, but he said he can’t help it.  He’s filled with joy even in the midst of harsh circumstances, and now he says they’re smiling along with him.  He is out there on a real mission field, surrounded by opportunities, and he is giving God all the glory and honor.  Nothing makes me prouder of my husband than that.

I have fought this plan of God’s for a long time.  I could not for the life of me understand why God would call my husband, my little girls’ daddy, to leave our home, leave his job, leave our comfortable little world to go to military training.  It made no sense!  I have cried and argued and protested, but not trusted.  Fortunately, my husband did trust and obey, and, for me, it’s another lesson learned… God knows best.  He’s let me have my temper tantrums, and has been patient and merciful, as always.  And when I decided to close my mouth long enough to listen, He was right there, whispering His words of wisdom.

Just this evening, He led me to a passage in Ephesians (Ephesians 1:7-10, to be exact).  In this passage, I love the words that are used to describe how much God loves us.  “In Him we have redemption, through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding….”  Wow.  He has lavished His love, His grace, His mercy upon us.  I looked up the word lavish, and the definition I read says that it means “to bestow in generous or extravagant quantities.”  We are extravagantly blessed, but it doesn’t stop there.  Paul goes on in that verse to point out that not only does He lavish us with His love, but He does it “with all wisdom and understanding.”  He knows our flaws, our imperfections, our insecurities, our inadequacies… our junk.  Yet He chooses to pour His love and grace and mercy all over us anyway.

That’s good stuff, but it doesn’t end there.  The following verses remind us that He reveals His will for our lives so that we can live according to His purpose.  Oh, that’s right- it’s His purpose, not ours.  He is the master designer, the man with the plan… this life is not about what we think we should do.  He provides the direction and instruction for His plan, walks alongside of us for every step and stumble (and even those dreaded falls), and all He asks of us is to love Him and trust Him.

So, now that I’ve fallen, it’s time to let my Father pick me back up, brush me off, and lead me on down the path a bit farther.  Once again, I am covered by His mercy and grace… time to live a life lavished in love!  Things may still be challenging, and I still miss my love with an intensity I didn’t know I was capable of, but now I see God’s purpose in this, and I’m looking forward to seeing what He has in store for our family.

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