Few Sailors and Marines lie awake in their racks at Boot Camp. Maybe for the first time in their lives, exhausted recruits find that they can sleep on command, in any position, at any time of day or night, almost like turning off a light switch. It’s not uncommon to hear two comrades-at-arms comparing stories over chow about the most unlikely occasion during which they caught a few winks. Some can even boast the gold standard—snoozing while standing in formation.
However, after the feverish pace of Boot Camp ends, sleep can be harder to come by. Marines and Sailors at their first command finally have a chance to slow down, to “take out their soul and look at it.”
In those early months after Parris Island or Great Lakes, when the pace of life slows, there is more time to miss family, to miss home and to wonder where you’d be or what you’d be doing if you had never signed on the dotted line and raised your right hand. Dwelling on this can make sleep, which was once so easy to steal, a little harder to come by.
Everyone second-guesses the choices they’ve made from time to time. From purchasing a vehicle to getting married, we wonder what would have happened if we had gone left instead of right. On those nights when we’re particularly bothered and sleep won’t come, we might wonder if we are really where we are supposed to be.
The Bible teaches that wherever we are, it is where we’re meant to be. Paul said that God, our creator, chose when in history we would be born and where we would dwell. He did this so that we would seek God and live in him. We don’t always know in the moment “why” we are in the present situation, but we can trust that God is sovereign over it and it was orchestrated “for our good.”
I think about Joseph, who found himself betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. After rising up the slave ranks, he was wrongly accused and tossed into jail, where he spent many years, perhaps wondering why his life had gone the way it did. But in time, circumstance led him to be found by the king and raised up to govern Egypt through a tumultuous time in her history. He didn’t know at the time of trial what God was doing, but looking back on the winding road, he could say “God meant it for good, and to save his people.”
Let us, then, be encouraged, trusting that wherever we are, it is the right place. That whatever stirred in us the desire to join up was a God-given motive. That it was not a detailer or monitor that dropped us here at random, but the Almighty who carefully set us in a time and place that would render the most good.
With this in mind, sleep should come easier.