I don’t regret the life I’ve chosen. Not at all. In 18 moves, we have been within easy driving distance of our extended family only twice. That’s actually a pretty extravagant blessing compared to many who could not boast the same. I know I am blessed. Yet, I am keenly aware that the lifestyle we have chosen won’t always be convenient or easy for everyone my heart cherishes.
When the miles are long.
When the news isn’t what you prayed for.
When the birthday gatherings are way too small.
When the Thanksgiving dinners are far too quiet.
When the Christmas holidays leave you longing for home.
I get it. It’s my story, too. This military life is as beautiful and blessed as it is heartbreaking and hard. And when the latter just weighs heavy, I find it helpful to lift my eyes to the One who also “gets it.”
I never cease to be awed by the fact that Jesus left His place in heaven to come be among us. But with great sacrifice and devotion for all that mattered (us!) He did it. He crossed immeasurable miles to wrap His arms around our brokenness. He willingly separated Himself from His Abba Father to intercede on our behalf and ultimately laid down His life for the ultimate redemption of ours.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
Philippians 2:5-7 (ESV)
And in that sacred space, Jesus “emptied Himself” and willingly took on “the form of a servant.” To be “emptied” means to be poured out. Willingly. Lovingly. He chose to be a servant. For you. For me.
Just think about that for more than a moment…
Choosing to serve in the military (in any capacity, really), perhaps we can feel more “emptied” and poured out than most. So, yes, beloved, in all those places that are hard and far and long remember this: He chose to walk this road so He could look you in the eye and you would believe Him when He tells you He understands…that He gets it.
All of it.
And though we cannot even pretend to suffer or endure loss or emptying like Christ did, we can find solace in the simple and the profound.
There is nothing we are going through that He doesn’t sympathize with.
There is no distance we are grieving that He will fail to journey alongside us.
There is no news that is a surprise to Him.
There is no heartache that He hasn’t a plan to redeem.
There is no loss that He isn’t wrapping His tender arms around.
There are no spaces He can’t reach.
There is no suffering that He doesn’t empathize with.
And though the distance between our loved ones may be great, there are no miles between His heart and ours. Not one mile. Not one inch. Not one bit.
And though I realize Valentine’s Day fluttered by a week ago, it occurred to me how painful that day just might be for some of us…for those of us separated by duty station locations, oceans, deployments, illness, and even death and profound loss. When the person (or people) you love the most just aren’t around to squeeze in tight, or look in the eye, or whisper reminders of how deeply you cherish them, just remember, He gets it. And He is able to wrap His arms around both of you and draw you in close.
His hands are always trustworthy, and time and space just aren’t the same hurdles to Him that they are to you and me. And that’s always a good thing. So, go on ahead and dare to ask Him to meet you and those you love in the middle somewhere and bridge that gap between. He can do it. He is already doing it…and will continue to do it until there is no longer a need.
The song I want to share with you today is from a personal new favorite band, called City Alight. Their style is hymn-like, but with a contemporary sound, thick with rich theology and truth. It ministers to my soul, for sure. I pray it will for you, as well. This song is entitled, “What Love, O God.” It is powerful. Take some time to listen and I promise your heart will stir with a mighty gratitude for the sweet reminders.
With joy for the journey,