The first time my husband mentioned to me that he had a desire to get out of the Coast Guard was about 8 years ago. We were living in Hawaii. I was pregnant with our first born. I don’t remember the actual conversation, but I can say with certainty that my reply was not supportive of his desire. For me, getting out of the military was not an option. Not at all. I balked. I cried. I said words that were hurtful and begged him not so subtly to never bring up the subject again. I shut down and refused to even talk about in any way, shape, or form. It wasn’t something I wanted to think about. Being raised by two military officer parents had taught me a lesson early in life: “If you want security, the military is the way to have it.” It wasn’t untrue, at least not in a material/earthly sense. I can’t think of any other way (short of the hand of God, of course) that two “uneducated” nineteen and twenty year olds could have gotten married, raised a family, bought a house, and lived what appeared to be a “successful” life by society’s standards, had the military not played a role in it. To say that I was fearful of living without the security blanket that the govt. provided our family would be a gross understatement.
For the next 6 years, any time Austin would talk hypothetically about getting out of the military, my reaction consisted of an argumentative heart, fearful crying, and a sinking feeling in my stomach that everything that made me feel safe was in danger of being taken away at a whim. Eventually, in a moment of compromise, I told him that I was ok with him getting out of the service if he had “a plan.” I didn’t really know what that plan was, but I was realistic enough to know that without a college degree, we would have a hard time finding a job and “a plan” that would allow this family of 5 to subsist on one income. I figured that as long as I told him and told myself that the only way we would get out of the Coast Guard would be if God laid some divine “plan” on our laps, that our futures in the military and in the comfortable American way of life were pretty set in stone.
It’s a funny thing, now, looking back on those days. They weren’t that long ago, really, and all I can do is point to God and to the way He softens hearts and changes lives to explain the way that he has taken my fear filled mind and given me a heart that longs to follow His calling, no matter the cost. I say “no matter the cost” and feel like I should clarify that it is only the Spirit of Christ in me that has given me a peace of mind as we start to really consider what it could mean to obey what God has put on our hearts in regards to His plan and purpose for our family.
You see, for so so many years, I had this illusion of safety. I knew that there was always a chance, in a vague hypothetical way, that our lives might not always be the “comfortable” existence they have often been. I think everyone knows that there is no guarantee of ease and pleasure in this life, but so often we live like there is. I know I can say that I, personally, believed that the treasures of earth were of no value, but I lived like the contrary. It wasn’t until God, in his sovereign wisdom and will, showed me that we were, ultimately, risking more my staying in the military than we were by getting out, that I started to feel my heart soften and my mind become receptive to the calling/command he was placing on our hearts.
A lot of people, upon hearing us talk about what our family is planning to do in the next year or so, have the same question, “What are you going to do when you get to Kauai?” It’s almost become laughable at this point, because our answer is always an unapologetic “We don’t know.” It might seem irresponsible, the idea of moving a family of 5 to one of the most expensive places in the country to live with no concrete foreseeable plan of what we are going to “do” when we get there. There are times where the unknown aspects of this whole journey strike anxiety and worry in my heart (it usually happens right as im beginning to fall asleep) and I wonder, “God, are you sure this is what you want for us? Is this really you calling us and not something we’ve fabricated on our own?” It is then, in those moments of doubt and fear, that I begin to pray that God would show me, again, that this path is His path and that He is going to provide and guide us as we travel it. The most amazing thing about it, thus far, is the way that God ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS answers that prayer. Every. Single. Time.
I know that getting out of the military is going to rip a big hole in the imaginary safety net we have constructed around our lives. The net has done a good job thus far of protecting our comfortable lifestyle from anything that would endanger it. It has also done a wonderful job of shielding us from the very real and impossible to ignore calling that God has placed on our lives. The safety net of the military is a myth. I thought that staying in this job was the only way to provide for our family. I thought that it was the only way to keep our family physically healthy. I thought that it was enough to be a “lifestyle missionary,” by living comfortably in this military life and attending church faithfully, teaching youth group, attending small group, doing the whole “American Christianity” thing that isn’t, in and of itself, a bad thing. You see, for me, this safety net was actually nothing more than a mesh cradle to hold the treasures I was storing up on earth.
I want my safety net to be the promise of eternal life. That net, the hope of Christ, is one that will never break, it will never fill to capacity, and it’s concerned with accumulating only one thing – the precious souls that God created in His image to love and serve Him. As long as God continues to grant me life and breath on this earth, I want to spend my days filling my nets with the only treasure that matters. When the day comes that my faith is made sight and I am finally able to see in whole what I now only see in part, I want to be able to have many crowns to lay down at his feet and I rejoice with the nations at the glory of His goodness.
God hasn’t revealed to us, at this point, any sort of long term plan for what we are to do once we get across the ocean. He has placed a desire on both of our hearts to share the gospel in the South Pacific, and we are praying that God would allow us to do that via some sort of sailing ministry. Whether that ministry will be exclusively in Hawaii, or all throughout the Pacific, we are unsure of. We have precious godly friends who pastor a church on Kauai and they have been a blessed encouragement and steadfast source of constant hope over the course of this journey thus far. While there are many more unknowns than knowns in our futures right now, there is one thing we are absolutely sure of, and that is this, that “God will make this happen, for He who called you is faithful.” 1 Thess. 5:24