Today feels like the winter is almost over. Something about the melting snow, blue sky and singing birds says 'it's not far off'. I know spring really is quite far off. I won't complain that it's not spring though. I'll enjoy today and every day of sunshine between now and sweet May.
Something else is over though. Something that always seemed so far off, and now has come rather quietly, with the strange freedom and bittersweet sadness that I'd waited for so long. On Sunday night, my travel-weary, uniformed husband came home from his last military drill. The seven years of army service are ended. Today I hung out post-drill laundry for the last time.
I met my husband after his first deployment to Iraq. The time between that and his second deployment to Kuwait sufficed to just accommodate our acquaintance, friendship, courtship, engagement and our wedding squeaked in two weeks before he left again. The reality of his uniform and duties always marked our relationship and I've always known him as a soldier. He was the first soldier to join my complete extended family - both sides considered. He's still a soldier. Even the reality of his wife and toddler, whom he dearly loves, could not hinder him from a twinge of sadness over not being able to accompany his unit on their next deployment. I've always been proud of him for the real old-fashioned patriotism and love of service that marked his military career. That same love of service is now leading him to other things that make military service an added burden. It's become more of a burden as those duties increased. And now it's over. No more wondering if he'll be deployed again. No more weekends spent apart for drills.
But our true warfare isn't over. That's the battle in which I get to be his comrade, in a way I never could in those dusty battle zones of the middle east. To fight sin, to follow our Commander Jesus, to obey His orders, to help each other up when we stumble. We can't hang up our shield of faith yet, not till all the soldiers come home together. That's why this ending isn't quite as freeing as I'd dreamed - because it's not the real end of duty and service. How far we shall march before we reach that, only our great Captain knows. My husband was awarded for good service as he bid farewell to his company. But my prayer for both of us is much more that we will be found good and faithful servants when we are called to enter into the joy of our Lord. How good it is to know that our Lord Himself with us is the strength that will make our service faithful to the end.