God is Sovereign Over Military Assignments
By: Keith Manry
The PCS (Permanent Change of Station) window opens, and our family eagerly (and sometimes anxiously) awaits the news: where will the assignments division send us next? Will they consider our requests? Do our preferences even matter? Where will we live? Will we need to sell a vehicle or a home or both? Where will the kids go to school? Where will we go to church? Can the kids make new friends – again? What impact will this move have on our finances? This cycle of regular uncertainty and continuous transition is part of life for a military family. While military spouses and kids are resilient and seemingly transition with relative ease, the stress caused by the uncertainty and instability of these frequent moves is often palpable. But we submit ourselves to the system because the needs of the military come first. Or do they?
Throughout God’s Word are examples of those whose permanent changes of station created as much and, in most cases, more stress than do our own transitions. When Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, his distress must have been great. When Esther is collected into the wicked King Ahasuerus’ harem, she could never have envisioned her lofty calling. When Daniel was taken into exile by the Babylonians, I’m sure he didn’t embrace it as a new opportunity. And when Ruth followed her aging mother-in-law Naomi to her homeland, I doubt she imagined things would turn out as they did. For each of these, it must have seemed that the desires and purposes of other people determined their new stations in life.
Yet from these examples, we learn a vital truth – that God is sovereign over the affairs of our lives. For even when it seems as if the needs of others determined the outcomes in these accounts, a read of the entire story reveals that God had a greater purpose for each. Joseph himself acknowledged that what his brothers meant “as evil against” him, “God meant…for good” (Genesis 50:20). Esther is moved by Mordecai’s challenge that she may have “come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Daniel interpreted a dream of the king with the truth, “the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Daniel 4:17). And Ruth, while never seeing her role on this earth, would ultimately be the great (many times over) grandmother of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-16). Each of these are a testament to the truth that “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
After 15 years of military service, 10 moves, eight different assignments, four states, one U.S. territory, a combat deployment, and multiple short tours, I can testify to God’s sovereignty over every facet of my life – even over the military assignment system. On countless occasions, I’ve endeavored to arrange my next duty station through the channels available to me and seemingly helplessly waited for the actions of an assignment system completely out of my control. While I have only once received the assignment I requested, in every situation, I have learned that God’s plans were greater than mine. Most recently a move (against my wishes) to San Antonio, Texas resulted in the adoption of two (and soon to be three) children as well as the planting of Pillar San Antonio. While the needs of the Air Force seemingly have taken precedence over my assignments, God has had greater purposes with every move and every new job. And his purposes, his plans, and his priorities have without exception been better than mine.
Perhaps you wonder how the same could be true for you. To you, I commend the truth of God’s Word. Through Isaiah God declared, “As I have planned so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.” In Proverbs 19:21 God reminds us that “many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Through the Psalmist we learn that “the steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23). And James admonishes those of us who are tempted to boast about tomorrow to remember that we are “but a mist” and should approach life with a mindset that “if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15). God has always been and will always be sovereign. There is no military assignment, no change in station in our lives, no event in the life of our families, and no activity in the world around us over which God is not in control. Never once is he surprised or caught off guard. Through it all he has never once abdicated his throne. Whether we accept that reality or not does not change its truth.
Even as I write this article, I await news of a potential assignment. While I do not know what next month or next year has in store, I remain confident that God works through an imperfect system run by sinful men to accomplish his glorious purposes. For while the needs of the military seemingly come first in deciding the locations to which I will be assigned and the positions I am to fill, ultimately, I know that God’s purposes trump it all. Living with that knowledge and that certainty provides not only peace during uncertainty, but changes what could be anxiety and stress into eager anticipation of the great things God has in store for us next.