God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?” Numbers 23:19
Saddle up your horses, boys, this is the great adventure. I was 23 and Judy was 19 when we got on a plane and headed to Germany to live for three years. Of all our adventures this one was one of the most special because it was the first. And speaking of firsts, it was a series of many firsts for us. It was our first trip out of the United States. As great as our three years in Germany were—it was great to finally come home. You know they say that there is no place like home—and they are correct.
I am a gadget guy and Germany held a couple of great gadget firsts. First, if you were in the service (USAF) and went overseas anywhere—you bought a BIG stereo. I had speakers the size of end tables and a rack of equipment that would make any audiophile jealous. Receiver, equalizer, cassette recorder/player, reel to reel player/recorder was just the short list of my stereo gadgetry and I was proud of every piece. I remember coming up with different sale pitches to Judy on why I just had to have whatever was next. I was pretty good at it too.
It was in Germany that I got my first digital watch. One of the pilots in my squadron called me over one day and said, “Hey Sergeant Taylor, check this out.” It was a silver Casio LED digital watch with buttons and a screen. I was instantly enamored. “Where did you get it, sir?” was the question and the J.C. Penney catalog was the answer. Three things happened. First, I checked it out—$69.00 (and trust me that was a chuck of money); two, convince Judy I had to have it. Last, order it and wait a three weeks for the order to be mailed to America and the watch to make the return trip. Finally it came. That same watch is $4.99 today. Imagine that.
It was also in Germany that I learned the wonder of the microwave and got my first one. There was only one brand in those days—an Amana Radar Range. This is how it happened. A senior NCO who attended our church told me one day, “I can boil water in a paper cup.” I said, “No you can’t” and He said “Yes, I can.” That resulted in a trip to his house where he promptly put a paper cup in this magic machine and proceeded to boil water in a paper cup. Done deal. Had to have one. Amazingly, I was in the Base Exchange (the store on base) and there it was—an Amana Radar Range on clearance no less—for $370.00 dollars. Three things happened. I convinced Judy we could not live without this modern marvel. Two, I put it on layaway (remember that?). Lastly, I waited six weeks for three paydays to scrape up enough money to bring it home. Finally we did, but you know you can only boil so many cups of water before it loses its pizzazz.
There was one more first thing that we got in Germany and it had to go into layaway too. Midway through our last year in Germany, we learned that Judy was expecting our first daughter. This time the layaway was for nine months. We left Germany in August of 1980 and Rebecca Dawn was born in Missouri on January 24, 1981. Unlike the microwave, she kept us pretty amazed day in and day out. We were so amazed that we decided to get another one and just 19 months after we got Rebecca out of layaway, Jennifer Lynne came along. I have to say we decided to wait awhile to do that again but it wasn’t for lack of pizzazz.
The firsts didn’t stop in Germany either. I can still remember the day we discovered something called Walmart. We were fresh home from three years in Germany and were setting up our home in Warrensburg, Missouri. We needed a trash can or something and went with what we were familiar with—TG&Y. It was a five and dime kind of story that we had in South Georgia. Judy called it “Tator, Gator, and Yator.” Don’t ask me why, but it stuck. So anyway, TG&Y didn’t have what we were looking for so I asked a clerk to be sure we weren’t missing it. She confirmed they didn’t have it and suggested we try the Walmart down the road. To this day, I remember my reply, “What’s a Walmart?” Apparently while we were gone to Germany this new store started sweeping the Midwest and then the country. In 1980, Walmart 296 stores and today there are 11,501. How amazing is that?
What makes life so interesting is that there is always one more first. Things change—the old moves to the rearview mirror as the next new thing appears in the windshield. And do you know what? I’m good with that. But I am also glad that there are things that remain. Tonight I saw another beautiful sunset personally painted by the God of the galaxies. It was amazing. Tonight, Judy once again confirmed that she liked me and loved me. I thought that was pretty cool. I told her she had way too much invested to start over. She told me she didn’t want to anyway. Nice. But it doesn’t stop there. In fact, that’s just the beginning.
You see, the Bible says “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” The answer is No and No. He is faithful…He can be trusted. I’m glad we have a God that doesn’t change nor change His mind. He loves me and you today and He will love us tomorrow. A zillion, billion years from today—He will still be loving me. That’s good to know. It’s good to know that tonight I will lay my head down on my pillow and rest—rest in knowing that I’m in His care. I am not subject to circumstance, accident or happenstance. He holds me, and He holds you—tight. And tomorrow I’m going to wake up—either here or in an awesome place called heaven—my final first. Either way, no matter what, He’s got this—and that is enough.