Orders from the US Air Force
Keith stood in the doorway fidgeting. “Talked with a guy who was stationed at Clark AB. He told me what it’s like to live in the Philippines. Geckos live inside the house. Uh, there are flying cockroaches, and you have to watch out for cobras in your backyard.”
I threw myself on the bed and cried.
All alone on an island, no phone (before cell phones), no Internet (before the Internet), no family … all alone with geckos, flying cockroaches, and cobras! Over 8,000 miles from family. Just Keith, 18-month-old Kristin, and me.
Fear of the unknown and the little-known. We had a choice: Keith could go alone or take Kristin and me with him. There really was no choice. We had married for better or for worse. After six years of marriage, I thought I might get the “worse” out of the way early.
When we landed at Clark AB on Friday the 13th. We found geckos, flying cockroaches, cobras, and challenges, but we also found a land of beauty and opportunity.
Orders from God
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, … Genesis 12:1-4
Abram gathered his wife, servants, nephew, and possessions, and started walking.
Over 400 miles later, they ended up in Canaan, a land filled with people who worshipped Baal and Ashtoreth. Baal was believed to have authority over the rain, wind, and clouds, and Ashtoreth brought fertility to her worshippers. Cult prostitution was a part of their worship.
Alone in a strange land and evil practices. Alone with a promise.
“Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.” Genesis 12:7
Testing at Clark AB
The stories about the Philippines were accurate.
A captain picked us up to go to dinner the first night. I slipped into the back seat.
Yikes! A gecko on the hood scurried up the windowshield.
Jet-lagged and partied out, Keith unfolded Kristin’s rollaway bed. A giant cockroach shot from the bed. This was the biggest and strongest cockroach either of us had ever seen. Keith pulled off his size 11 shoe and pummeled the cockroach; it darted from corner to corner, Keith swung his shoe from side-to-side swatting the B-52 bomber. It landed on the wall. Keith hammered it, and it fell to the floor. It zoomed past his head. Five or six poundings later, Keith completed his mission.
That night, Kristin slept with me in my twin bed.
Cockroaches and geckos served as gentle, preparatory challenges.
Two kids from Oklahoma with a toddler on a sojourn.
Smiling faces emerging from Nipa huts.
Children playing with cockroaches.
Machine guns on every corner in our off-base housing subdivision.
Strip clubs and prostitution surrounding the base.
Sniper fire between our house and the base.
Typhoons threatening our sanity.
Off-base water unfit for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
Broken marriages distressing families.
Testing in Canaan
God’s commands, the promise of blessing, and obedience brought testing.
Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. Genesis 12:10
In Egypt, Abram’s marriage was tested. Sarai was beautiful, and Abram was afraid that the Egyptians would see her beauty and kill Abram, so he asked her to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister.
“When the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.” Genesis 12:15
Pharaoh blessed Abram with many riches because of Sarai, but God sent great plagues to the house of Pharaoh. Pharaoh learned that Sarai was Abram’s wife and that the plagues were a result of him taking Sarai into his household. He sent Sarai and Abram away with all their possessions.
Walking the Promised Marriage
This marriage that God had given us had its wanderings. God led the three us from the Philippines to the East Coast, West Coast, Italy, Mid-America, and again to the West Coast. Our extended family did not understand our lifestyle and what God was calling us to do. For that matter, I don’t think that we understood what God had in store for us.
Each place had its blessings and its trials, and with God’s leading, they brought us closer to each other and to God.
Walking the Promised Land
And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD. Genesis 13:3-4
Abram and Lot, his nephew, were very rich in livestock, silver, and gold, and the land could not support all the livestock. Abram told Lot to choose the land that he would settle in, and Abram went the opposite direction.
Finally, Abram and Sarai were alone with God.
“The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, … Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.’ So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.” Genesis 13:14-18
God’s revelations to Abram and Sarai were gentle and sure. When Abram was 99-years-old, God changed his name to Abraham and revealed to him that he would be the father of many nations and that Sarai’s name would be changed to “Sarah,” for she would bear a child, Isaac, with whom God would establish an everlasting covenant, resulting in the nation of Israel and blessing many nations.
By faith, Abram and Sarai left their land, their family, their lifestyle, and trusted God to lead them into the Promised Land.
By faith, they walked the promise.
By faith, Abraham bought the cave and field at Machpelah where he buried Sarah.
By faith, Abraham and Sarah trusted God to bring descendants to Isaac.
By faith, Abraham and Sarah obeyed God and lived the promise
This week, take a moment to prayerfully share in the Comment Section your responses to these three questions:
- What are the promises God has given you?
- How is He leading you on the path to the promises?
- What are you learning about the nature of God as He leads you?
Father, thank You for the promises that You have given us in Your Word. Thank You for calling us to live differently and leading us in Your promises. Almighty God, stepping out of our comfort zone is difficult. We’re strangers walking this world, and sometimes, it’s hard to know if we’re really walking the path You have set before us. Take us by our right hands and help us to know that You are truly leading us towards the promises that You have for us. We love Your leading; we love You, Lord. Amen