I'm not sure why it is, but recently people have felt the need to tell me horror stories of missionaries that they have known. So far, none of them have dealt with children. For that I am grateful.
Let me back up quickly and mention that God has been tugging on me recently. He has been working to remind me that my dreams are simply not the point of this life I lead. He has been pointing out some issues of pride and over-confidence that need to be dealt with. He has used several methods to do this, including aforementioned horror stories, this morning's sermon, and a song that I had probably heard a thousand times before, but had never really listened to.
All of this has left me feeling heavy. I'm grasping the risk that we are taking, and the possible sacrifices that may have to be made along the way. I couldn't care less about the stuff we'll be getting rid of. I'm grateful for the need to unload the junk that clutters our lives. The single greatest concern that I have is my girls. Although bad things happen everywhere, even in the grand ol' U.S. of A, it would be naive to deny the fact that by going overseas, we are upping certain risks. I have said it before, and I will say it again: anyone who wants to get to them will be forced to go through me. And I can be pretty scrappy when it comes to my babies. All the same, it is a risk.
I am completely confident in the decision to go overseas. To not do so would be disobedience on our part. That doesn't mean that every aspect of this decision makes me happy or leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy. When I think about the future that lies ahead of us, I keep coming back to one thing Jesus said.
Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."
Whenever this verse comes up in Sunday school, someone will usually say something to the affect of, "This doesn't mean that you really hate your family. It just means that in comparison to your love for Jesus, the love that you have for them appears to be hatred." I think that this is completely accurate statement. The command to honor and love your family members is reiterated time and again in the Bible. What we fail to do is discuss what this actually looks like in real life. For me, right now, this means accepting the fact that following Christ into the mission field may mean harm coming to my girls. He has not promised us physical safety for this adventure. It does not mean that I am not extremely careful in protecting them, but when it comes down to it, He takes precedence. If He doesn't, I am mistreating my girls by not teaching them the most important of all lessons. That being, Jesus is first!
I mentioned a certain song earlier. It's called, "The Hammer Holds" by Bebo Norman. It has seemed to me that it must have been written for me personally. In the first two verses, we are introduced to a piece of metal that is being shaped. He doesn't know what that shape is or what his purpose will be, but he is confident that he will find out. Toward the end of the second verse, he wonders whether he is to be a piece of art, and all of the pain of refinement will pay off in the form of beauty in himself. In the final verse, however, we discover that he is just a nail. Not only is this piece of metal a simple piece of hardware, he is to be used to kill an innocent man and hold Him to the cross. So often we hear that God is refining us into something beautiful, and that all the work He is doing is a way of getting to the point where He can point to us and boast in how wonderful we are as a final product. This is true in some aspects, but at the end of the day, we are meant to hold Jesus up in all of His pain and suffering. When we contrast the minor pain of suffering that we experience to the intensity of His sacrifice, it is obvious that our focus is misplaced. He is the point. If it means that I must place my children, whom I adore and would willingly endure any type of physical or emotional abuse in order to protect, on the metaphorical alter, that is His call. I serve a good God, and His goodness is not based on what He does for me. He has already endured the weight of my sin and the punishment that I deserve for my sake. What right do I have to ask for my personal comfort in light of that?
Below is a recording of "The Hammer Holds". I hope that you enjoy it, and that you are able to listen to the words. It has been a great source of comfort to remember that in this task, as in all others, my Father is the One holding the hammer that refines me and prepares, and He is the One who held the hammer that placed the nails into His own precious Son for my sake. How can I hold back my children when He refused to hold back His?
The Hammer Holds - Bebo Norman