There is an old country western song, Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys, which is, of course, performed by cowboys, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. I have often thought of the irony of the song telling mamas to not let their children be what they themselves have grown up to be. They list all the bad qualities about being a cowboy, things that they themselves are. Such a strange idea. This may be an odd way to start this piece because it is NOT at all about cowboys and it is not at all about any mama letting any baby do anything. But it is about babies growing up to embrace what the parents themselves have spent a lifetime living out.
Our son, Joel, and his wife, Rachel, feel invited by God to join a mission work in Costa Rica. They have sold their house and are in the midst of selling most everything they own. They will soon move to an apartment where they will live for the summer, free of household responsibilities, to raise support for this venture that may last three to five years. They are hoping to leave in September to get a house set up, start language school and become prepared to join the team already there at the University in San Jose, Costa Rica. The work they will be doing will be similar to what Rachel has done here in the states with InterVarsity. They will be connecting with and building relationships with college students to enable spiritual conversation and introduction to the truth of Christ. Joel will join her in the work, setting aside his Physical Therapy work for a season.
This is fabulous. We are proud of them and this amazing venture. They are trusting God for this invitation, for this timing, for this work, for this ministry, for their family and for their provision. . . and for this grandma who is trying to get her heart wrapped around having her grandchildren so far away for such a long time.
To say the least, this has been difficult for me.
Brian and I have done much mission work. We have traveled to Ukraine many times and worked with the Ukrainian Christians building a camp for God's work to be continued outside of the usual Sunday morning gatherings. We went to China for 5 1/2 weeks to build relationships with people so that the fresh message of faith in Christ could be made known to them. We traveled to Mozambique twice to solidify the message that God does see them and provides for them in physical and spiritual ways. We support numerous missionaries who are on the field overseas and here in America. We pray weekly for these soldiers in the faith and the hard work they do to enter into that which God had invited them in a far away land. Why would we be surprised that our son would be watching and finding his own call to the mission field?
I've not given much thought to the grandmas of these hard workers, though.
Of course, now I do. I realize that giving up what is closest to you is difficult. I realize that God has his purposes that we can't see here. And I know, yes, I've been told by countless people, that we can Skype and talk on our face time phones. Brian and I will travel to this beautiful country in the coming years and yes, it will be lovely. Yes, I know. I know.
I also know that babies are little only for a short time and I'm going to miss a lot of it. And so I grieve.
And within this grieving I am trying to dig deep to grow, learn, trust what God has for me in all this.
- Do I trust God in this invitation?
- How do I find comfort in His presence?
- Where do my thoughts dwell, in fear or in faith?
And as much as I want to be a strong woman, believing and trusting God for all of this, I find it difficult.
But this I know: God sent Jesus to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot ever be good enough. We don't have the capacity to really forgive. We can't just find joy on the side of the road. We can't even believe without his help.
So...I am asking for that same kind of help from God for this one. I am not against their going. I am not against God's invitation. I am not against anything. But I am for me...and my heart...and those babies who are growing every day. I have lived with faith in Christ long enough to know that, just like the gospel, Christ can do for me what I cannot do for myself. He will play this out in ways that I cannot see now.
And that's as much as I can do at this point. I daily hold them up and ask God to take care of them.
I've had some dear souls cry with me, like my sweet sister, Ann, and my good friend, Carolyn. They expressed such kind understanding, it has helped me to feel truly cared about.
Should I rewrite the lyrics? Mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be missionaries? No, I don't think so. Mission work is faith growing, trust building and God honoring work. I believe that God is faithful to do what only He can do: Bless the calling of this dear family and make their work fruitful. I ask him to also, PLEASE, take this humble heart of mine and lead me into a deeper trust in Him. So he doesn't have to pry my fingers off the sweethearts, I open my hands and offer them in love and hope for a future I cannot predict and will do my best to walk in faith day by day.
In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
(If you have interest in becoming a part of Joel and Rachel's support team, through prayer or financial giving, let me know and we will connect you to them. And if you want to be a part of praying for Grandma, I'd LOVE that too!)