A PCS move is a prime opportunity to challenge the concept of dwelling together in unity.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is, when brothers dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1)
When asked to share their best PCS advice, my friend Malinda reported her husband’s response: “Deferred travel!”
How Deferred Travel Can Help
Deferred travel means the service member travels to the next duty station, and the family follows later. My friend’s response was probably a tongue-in-cheek one. Malinda’s husband could make the argument that he would go to the next duty station ahead of her in order to scope out the living conditions, get comfortable in his new assignment, and learn his way around their new town to better introduce it to his family. The unsaid argument of course is, “I will go ahead and let you take care of moving with the kids.”
However, deferred travel actually worked for our marriage for several PCS moves. When we moved to Germany, traveling alone with two preschool children to meet my confident soldier on the other side of the ocean was best. Our delayed arrival gave him the opportunity to acclimate to his job and the new culture without worrying about his family. Our transition overseas was much easier. The plan worked well enough that we did it again when we moved to Korea years later.
Dwell In Unity
A PCS move is a prime opportunity to challenge the concept of dwelling together in unity. The pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem needed the reminder as they journeyed together. In the context of Psalm 133, traveling in a group would generate plenty of opportunities for tensions to simmer. Competition for resources, supplies, and dwelling en route provided the potential for conflict among families and tribes.1 The song they sang reminded them of the importance of traveling in harmony with one another. The unity they displayed as families would positively affect the entire nation.2
My sisters and brothers in Christ, unity is a testimony to the world of the reality of Christ and will convince people that you have something they do not.3 Jesus spoke of this unity in a prayer for his followers—“I in them and you in me. So that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23 NIV).
What are the triggers that cause disunity in your family during a PCS move? How can you prepare to combat disunity during a PCS move?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, I pray our family would treat each other “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2–3). Amen.
1 John Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Wisdom and Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 563–564.
2 James D. G. Dunn and John Rogerson, Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003), 42.
3 John Phillips, Exploring Psalms, Volume 2 (Grand Rapids: Kregal Publishing, 2003, 538.