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Photo By Kelly Sikkema

Just a Piece of Paper?

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“You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” — 2 Corinthians 3:3

During the debate over the pros and cons of marriage vs. living together I would often read that one party would say, “Why get married?  It’s just a piece of paper. We already FEEL married.” In the military, that twisted logic just doesn’t hold up.  A military marriage begins with one piece of paper—the marriage certificate. If you are not married “on paper,” your relationship doesn’t count. Shortly after the official marital documentation follows the military ID card, another important piece of paper. Without that important document, there are no privileges that come with being a military dependent.

Here are some other “papers” which will impact your life in the military:

—military orders to use to set up a move
—passports for military dependents
—travel orders
—leave and earnings statements
—training certificates
—promotion orders
—efficiency reports
—diplomas for training completion
—medical records

And those are just for starters. Before a deployment there is also what I call the “ugly” paperwork—but it should probably be referred to as being “well prepared.” Wills, powers of attorney, life insurance, beneficiary information, contact information. . . .all are part of the process of getting ready to leave. And we can’t forget budgets, passwords for accounts plus lists of phone numbers in case of emergency.

And after deployment there are new papers which affect dependents—perhaps orders for a PCS, appointment slips for medical evaluations or marriage counseling, notification of awards, change-of-command ceremonies, maybe even re-enlistment, separation or retirement paperwork.

My genealogist-friend claims that she can recreate lives by putting together the paperwork of someone’s past. In the military, we can re-create our own lives simply by opening our filing cabinets and putting together the documents.

Paper, paper, paper. Our lives are described by these documents—but not defined. From report cards to paychecks, the world tells us that our worth is reflected on paper. Our task is to look instead to our Maker for our value. The paper He gives us, His Word, should be our mirror. In the Bible we learn we are significant. If we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Bible says that we have the right to be called children of God. John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”  As His dependents, then, what are some of our privileges—His promises to us?

—We are heirs:

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” (Romans 8:16,17)

“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:6)

—We are loved:

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

—We are forgiven:

“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13,14)

—We have access in prayer:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“This is the assurance we have in approaching God:  that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14)

—We are partakers of His divine nature:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3,4)

—We have peace:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

—We have the promise of eternity with Him:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Are these promises on paper? You bet they are, and written on our hearts, as well. A dependent’s military ID states whom we “belong” to, but once we give our lives to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we belong to Him first and foremost. And the benefits of that are out of this world!

Questions to Share:

1.  What are the things that you feel define you in your life?

2.  What are the promises of God concerning your worth to which you can cling in times of despair?

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