You know the movies where the operative receives the message that explains the job he’s asked to complete? Once the situation/circumstance is described, he hears “Your mission, should you choose to accept it”, followed by a summary of the mission. Then the method of conveying the message explodes and the operative is sent into action, working nonstop until the mission is complete. Kind of like a marriage, really.
I enjoy road trips—time alone in the car to sing along with praise music on the radio, see some pretty countryside, stop for coffee a time or two, and get caught up on some Bible studies on CD or my iPod. Recently I was listening to some really good Bible teaching on marriage and family issues from a favorite pastor/teacher. He said something like, “A great marriage will last at least 100 years.” I just about slammed on the brakes right there on the interstate! What???
I’ve been working on this writing for the last nine years. And it’s not done yet. I wanted to put down in writing, on “cyber-paper,” what I have lived and observed for most of my adult life. It’s what I love about our military . . . the people, the mission, the life. The truth is . . . as members of the United States military, people are watching you.
It was her favorite Christmas present, she said. Perhaps it was his, too, but he was still recovering from long months at sea and was needing to catch up on sleep. As they stood before us they still had that “newlywed glow” about them, even though most of their wedded life had been spent apart due to military duty. So when they were telling us about their first Christmas together there were smiles going back and forth between each other, and eyes sparkling with the chance to tell what was so very special about their first time of giving and receiving gifts as husband and wife.
Have you ever wondered. . . . Where in the world did we get the idea that sin has no consequences?
“From Carleene—‘Another Saturday night alone at Fort Bragg, NC, exhausted from another day alone with toddlers, alone without a husband to talk to, the kids without their daddy . . .I had been ruminating for months about giving up. I could not stand the stony silences on the one hand, and the sharp retorts, the anger, the constant fighting when he was home. Is this what marriage was supposed to be?’
During childhood many of us were taught the Lord’s Prayer. We can recite it “from memory” and it doesn’t mean a thing, if we’re not careful. Whether we call it the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Model Prayer” it reads like this in Matthew 6:9-13: “. . . Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts (some say ‘trespasses’), as we forgive our debtors (or ‘those who trespass against us’). And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Whether praying this prayer before going out on patrol in the desert, before going to bed at night, or as part of worship or a discipline of daily time with God, it’s a good reminder to examine this prayer for our “heart attitude” so that it doesn’t become just part of a “check-list of to-dos.”
Picture this—both sides in a battle are lobbing grenades at one another. The grenades blow up causing much destruction on each side. Now imagine that the two sides fighting are really a husband and a wife. The “grenades” are words and actions—and somehow both partners seem surprised when they “blow up”! Lots of hurt. . .lots of anger. . .and it just gets worse and worse. The fighting can continue right into the divorce court. If you’ve ever seen this happening in a couple, or experienced it yourself, you know that it’s just crazy!
I would be surprised if you have gotten through this deployment without any tears. Tears when your spouse left; tears during the long months of separation; tears at special occasions when your loved one’s presence is especially missed . . . tears matter. Tears matter to God.
I think I’m like a lot of military professionals in that I pride myself in being able to make a good plan. After all, I’ve had over 20 years of training and practice in making plan after plan and having them tested, refined, tested again, criticized, tested again, refined and the final test of all, executed. We in the military should be good at making plans, and not just one plan either. We have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C, each of which have branches (contingency plans) and sequels (follow on plans) – all designed to ensure that when we set out to achieve our mission, our execution is robust and effective. The success of our plans in achieving a mission is where the rubber hits the road in the military. It can accelerate or decelerate our careers. It can lead to honor or to shame. Plans are pretty important, and I haven’t restricted my planning only to what I do in the military.