Wednesday, January 4, 2017

To See the Son Rise

It was November of 1991 and I was wondering what to do with my life.  I was stagnant in college, had no love life AT ALL and really did not know where I was headed in this life.  To say my life was going opposite to what I had planned was an understatement. I figured I would grow up, become a teacher, get married, have kids and live my life in Kentucky.  But God! He has plans for us and it's typically better than we could ever imagine.

That night, as I was reading through my Bible (more like skimming) I came across the following verse that pretty much jumped off the page at me:

II Timothy 2:4.  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 

Helicopter ride somewhere over the Gulf of Arabia, 2010
Okay, so that's an unusual verse...unless you were, at some point in your past, considering joining the military.  For quite a few years my mom had suggested I go into ROTC in college. In high school, I had toyed with the idea of a military academy (yeah, my math grades didn't come close to qualifying for that but God had bigger ideas).  So there I was, laying on my water bed wondering what in the world was I in for with this verse.  Was God speaking to me?  And what in the world was He saying? (I actually heard him LOUD and CLEAR but chose to ignore him at that point).

Sunrise from the USS Winston Churchill, Arabian Gulf, July 2010
Fast forward 5 months and I was playing volleyball with two men from college practicing for a tournament and wham, I landed wrong and my ankle touched the floor (while my leg was still vertical) with the distinct sound of shredding muscle/ligaments to follow.  Needless to say, I was out of commission for a while. I had ignored the Lord and his "nudge" 5 months earlier and now had a glorious 3 weeks to lay on my back, foot in the air, unable to work and just going to school and thinking.  This little "vacation" gave me 3 weeks to think. It gave me three weeks to consider my future and at the end of it I knew what God wanted me to do. I was supposed to join the military. 

As a naïve young lady, I did the only logical thing I could do.  I started to consider my options.  I knew if I joined the military I would I want to go to the beach, someplace warm. I wanted to be where I could see the sun rise and/or set over the ocean. So I did the


train of thought.  Which seems logical right?  Sure! So off to the recruiter I went.  And off on my little unexpected adventure I went.  It wasn't where I thought I would end up though.  But the Navy was where God wanted me, at least temporarily.

I didn't take this picture but THIS is Northern Japan!!!
Well, typical of life, my first duty station was anything but warm.  Stuck in Northern Japan for 2 years, I learned the meaning of cold. I learned the meaning of snow (and yes, I grew up with snow but this was SNOW...FEET-OF-SNOW, COLD-FEET-OF-SNOW). 

Through my far eastern adventure I learned the meaning of "Land of the Rising Sun".  I was enjoying the rising of the sun even if it was not on the beach I expected.  Because really, do we ever get to watch life from the place we expect?  "Bloom where you are planted" is a favorite saying of mine and this was definitely the case in Misawa Japan.

Through two more duty stations, I learned the meaning of resting in Him. I learned that no matter which beach I was on (and I was on MANY beaches), the sun would still rise and set and through it all Jesus was still the same.  God even chose to allow me to see the sun rise and set from the deck of a warship which is simply amazing.  To be standing on a ship, and see the sun rise knowing that you are out there, standing watch for those who sleep is an overwhelming, humbling, amazing experience.  To add to it He even allowed me to watch the sun set over the beach in Israel.  Now, you want to talk about blessings!  THAT was a blessing. To walk the very land my Savior had walked:  Amazing!!!  But back to the story.

Sunset over the Arabian Gulf from a US Warship, July 2010

Why did God allow me to take the path I took all those years ago?  What was the meaning behind it all?  Why was I allowed to have things happen to me that shook me to my core?  As a young lady, all I had wanted was to go to college, eventually get married, be a teacher, have some kids and live in Kentucky the rest of my life.  Small town dreams for this small town country girl.  BUT, there was a part of me that wanted to travel the world.  Israel, Paris, Rome, London, you know, THE WORLD.  Honestly, I didn't think it would ever happen.  Yet God!  God allowed for my deepest desires to come to fruition.  ALL OF THEM!!! He took all the dreams I had of seeing the world, having a family and laid them at my feet.  He used all of those things that at the time may have seemed bad and led me to a place where I could watch the sun rise and set.  A place where I relied SOLELY on HIM.

All of those steps, that seemed so very chaotic at the time and totally unexpected were actually to bring me to where I am today. You see, had I listened to the Lord in November of 1991, I may not have gotten into the schools I got into for my job(which ironically is HEAVY on the math part, go figure).  Yet, had I not really listened 5 months later and ignored His still small voice, I may not have had the chance to see the places I was blessed to see. I would have never met my husband which means I wouldn't have had my step-daughter and son.  It all worked together in HIS time.

Romans 8:28 says: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
Through it all, God has placed me in locations where I can watch the Son rise; places where I can easily see His hand in all the things around me.   Are you watching for the Son to rise?  Can you see God's hand in your life?  Look around, it is not as difficult as you may think.

Do I have regrets? Sure.  Don't we all?  But I know that God placed me right where He did on so many occasions to bring me right where I am today.  And He wants me to be PRESENT today.  He wants me to live my life, loving those around me like HE does because HIS love is perfect.  And for this life I am very thankful.  This life is much better and bigger than any dream this small town Kentucky girl could have ever imagined.
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