My husband embraced me tightly before walking out the door with his bags slung over his shoulder. I trailed behind him as he stopped in the driveway for a hug and photos with our oldest son. My husband, dressed in full uniform, stood with his arm around our little boy, who held a small, black chalkboard sign that read “First Day of First Grade” (it also happened to be his seventh birthday). After photos and final goodbyes, the kids and I watched my husband’s silver pickup truck back out our driveway and pull away. As soon as he was out of sight, an adrenaline rush of anxiety hit me like a shot of caffeine awakening me to the danger he drove toward.
A birthday, the first day of school at a brand new school, and a deployment all in one day was a lot. But this was not our first experience with deployment. In fact, in ten years, I’d lost count of the birthdays and milestones interrupted or missed and the number of goodbyes we’ve said that made us wonder if they’d be the last.
I stood there in my driveway, closed my eyes, and breathed in deeply, slowing my racing heart. I attuned my spirit to the Lord’s dwelling within me. I would live in awareness, not of danger and of the unknown but of the presence of the Lord with me.
Several weeks later, the buzz of my phone woke me just before dawn. The screen showed five missed calls. I immediately knew something was wrong. My phone vibrated again as I held it. I sat up and answered. It was my husband. I exhaled an anxious breath from my lungs. He wanted to reach me before I turned on the TV and saw the news. Through hurried, hushed words that lacked detail, he told me he was safe, but others were not. I felt weak and weepy, but I just listened quietly. He spoke with composure, but I’ve known his voice long enough to hear the emotions he was trying to repress. With forced stoicism, he told me to pray and to tell our two sons that he loved them. The goodbye felt permanent. I slid off our bed onto the floor as tears slid down my cheeks and prayed with my forehead resting against our mattress.
During that deployment, my husband was on a mission that killed one of his friends. Any comfort we tried to offer each other thousands of miles apart in the midst of a traumatic tragedy fell short. And due to his position, I could only confide in a couple of friends. I spent days and nights battling rounds of worry and crying. In the panic, I wanted peace, and in the mourning, I wanted comfort. But I had become a veteran of mental, emotional, and spiritual battles, and I’d learned how to move through them intentionally with the Lord and find endurance through hard seasons. He is the only true source of peace and comfort.
While I could breathe through anxiety and find solace in the empathetic eyes and arms of friends, the only way through the battles I faced was with a surrendered dependence on the Lord. The Lord was with me always, and His presence went with my husband. The Lord’s presence is a provision of peace that sustains us through the scariest moments of life. I had first learned this almost a decade ago when our newborn daughter died, and it has stayed true through every hard season in our lives.
Life doesn’t always work out. People we love will die. And we might find ourselves in harm’s way, intentionally or not, no matter how hard we pray or how much faith we have. But no matter what arrows come by night, we can find consolation in reminding ourselves of who God is, surrendering the moments out of our control to His sovereignty and drawing near to Him in prayer. God’s divine peace dawns in the dark moments of our lives as we depend on Him.
Wherever you are, whether abrupt news has interrupted your peaceful plans, or the vast unknown looms before you, choose to lean on unchanging truth, not on changing circumstances. Pray without ceasing to discover the permanence of the Lord who goes with you, dwells within you, and will never abandon you. May you take heart in the Lord’s presence and live out your full dependence on Him. It’s in our dependence that we discover that His power strengthens us to fight our battles and endure with the peace of His presence.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have what I need.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
he leads me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff — they comfort me.
You prepare a table before
me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.
Psalm 23 (CSB)
This is beautiful, Kristin!
anyone know where i change this picture? not sure what’s its linked to since i just put in my email address
Kristin Vanderlip says
Thanks so much for reading Amanda. I hope it touched your heart with some hope. Blessings, Kristin
Alison Kozlow says
Just beautiful Kristin! Thank you for this much needed encouragement today. I will endure with the peace of His presence♥️. I choose to lean on God’s unchanging truth not on my changing circumstances. Blessings,
Kristin Vanderlip says
So glad these words met you, Alison. Amen! Blessings, Kristin
Natalie Hilton says
“He is the only true source of peace and comfort.” Thanks for sharing your heart Kristin!
Kristin Vanderlip says
Hi Natalie! 🙂 Thanks for reading. Blessings, Kristin
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
That is so true God is with us no matter what. I look back at my life. In it all and all that has happened in my Family and me. Maybe not or no were near as bad or a worrying as some people had to go through in life. Especially when I was small and big today. But I look at it all today that has happened in my life to me and too people I love. Even though not here today. I am thank full to God that he has given me the strength to forgive the people that have hurt me. Hurt those I love even if not here anymore. Over things they done they should not have. I can pray for them in a different light God’s light. Love them in a new light. See Divine Peace Out Of those Dark Days. Now they don’t annoy me anymore. But I never forget what they did. But it don’t eat me up anymore. I pray for the person Salvation. God showed me light at the end of the tunnel. Yes I cried. Yes I was hurt yes I sad hurt for the other peoples as well that I loved. I can because of prayer and prayer from other good Christian friends in my Church I got the help I needed to let go and love them all the way God would want me too. I glad today I have done that. As God light now’s shines brightly in me. I can talk to the person that hurt me and the other people it hurt to me. God would as followers of his want us to do that. Love this reading xx.
Kristin, you have written so beautifully what words often cannot communicate. As a fellow military spouse, we can often live in a place of worry and anxious thoughts but as you so thoughtfully said we can “choose to lean on unchanging truth, not on changing circumstances.” Amen.
Beth Williams says
What a testimony you have to share. In uncertain times Jesus is the only one we can lean on. I know from experience. My aging dad went through geriatric psych & was hospitalized twice. God saw me through those trials. In the midst of these trying times we live God is the one constant. Lately I have been ruminating on Psalm 23:4-5 “Yea though I walk through the valley of shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me. Thy rod & staff they comfort me.” No matter what comes my way fear will not get the best of me. It is fought off with the word of God & plenty of prayer.