Monday, December 17, 2012

A Father's Love

JR was somewhere between the ages of one and two when I sat in church and listened to an African missionary tell of how God had already prepared his heart for his 14 year old daughter's potential death.  
The missionary's sermon started off innocently enough.  There were pictures of orphans and stories of God's great works in Africa that brought tears to your eyes and joy to your heart.  The missionary told of his great love for the people of Africa, his calling to that land and how God had worked in the life of his family.
And then he dropped the bomb that shattered my perfect little suburban world.  It seemed this missionary's daughter had a dream of becoming a missionary herself.  Only she wasn't called to Africa.  No, she was called to the Middle East.  To countries with scary names like Iran and Sudan.  She was called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in these Muslim countries whose leadership is so radical they will throw you into their disgusting prisons if you even so much as look the wrong way, much less attempt to practice freedom of religion.  
The missionary told of how proud he was of his daughter and how he knew that her calling might mean her death, but he was prepared.  And that he would never dare to stand in the way of God's calling on his daughter's life.  Never.
And I knew immediately that God meant that message for me.  JUST for me.  I knew what God knew - I considered my son "MINE" - mine!  Given to ME by God to love and protect.  JR was mine and there was no way I was going to allow him to even consider, much less encourage?!? a living where his life was in mortal danger.  I mean, I wanted him to go on mission trips and all, but I was looking forward to those missions having a certain start and end date.  To them being to at least 'safe-ish' places, led by protective leaders whose one goal was to return my son home safely to me.  

But I knew in that instant.................... I had gotten it all wrong.  I drove home with a heavy heart.  I knew that I too was called to relinquish my child................... no.  not my child............... God's child to the calling on his life.  I was to pray less for his protection and more for his mission.  After much wrestling in my heart (weeks of wrestling really,) I was ready to say the words that I still find difficult to speak, "He's yours God.  He always has been.  Thank you for entrusting him to my care."  Gone were my hopes that my son would grow up to be a nice, professional man with a 401k, a picket fence and some extra time to devote to 'good' works on the weekends.  
Instead, I now have no plan what so ever.  Kind of hard for this OCD gal, but my only plan is to take it day by day.  And each of those days to instill in my child the following, "God loves you.  God has a plan for you.  I don't know what that plan is, but you will.  Draw close to Him and He will guide your steps."  
And do you know what?  Releasing my child into the loving arms of God has brought me a peace about my children that knows no end.  That shouldn't be a surprise to me, but it is.  It's amazing - I can hardly believe it myself, but it's true.  One of the greatest joys of my life was being allowed to live long enough to see both of my children accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and to see them take on their faith as their own.  Such peace in my heart.  The peace that passes understanding

When I hear the news of Connecticut I am even more thankful for that day, so many years ago when God helped me to realize that He is in control. Today, instead of wrapping my children in bubble wrap and locking them in their rooms, I am able to send my children to school knowing that even in the face of great evil, God's got this.  He has a plan.  He is at work in their hearts and lives and in the world at large.
And that work is for good.  That work is to bring light and life and unfailing love.  That is my hope - my only hope.  I pray that you also have that hope!

"In him was life and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it." ~ John 1: 4-5