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Letting Go; Pain with a Purpose

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bobby & me

The Pain

     Recently I had the sweet privilege of meeting a brand new missionary’s mom. A few days after Christmas her daughter, son in law, and one year old granddaughter will leave for the mission field. She is about to embark upon a difficult journey. The same journey that I began January 4, 2012. I have been where she is about to go. And because I was standing there in front of her, living and breathing (and smiling), she has reason to hope!

Flashback

    I remember that Christmas in 2011. We had enjoyed a Christmas for the memory books. All 17 of us (at that time) sharing, laughing, cooking, then snacking and overeating, watching White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Christmas in Connecticut, Muppet Christmas Carol (that’s just the short list). Oh, we packed as much as was possible into those few days before my son and daughter in law left for the mission field. We had a bulging album of pictures and memories before it was all said and done.

     But the dreaded day came, nevertheless! It’s strange how; yes we can feel pride for our children for answering the call to missions. But honestly, when describing the feelings I felt on that day when we stood on the porch waving our last goodbye, the feeling of pride evaded me.  I kept thinking about how life here was now going to happen without my son and daughter in law.  And their lives were now going to happen without us.

     Yet through it all, I never felt abandoned by God or that all of this was impossible for me to deal with. He was faithful in sending me to verses that addressed my pain. (like Psalm 30:5b, Weeping may be for a night, but joy comes in the morning) Verses like this and so many more empowered me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and breathing in and out consistently.

The Purpose

     My new friend has God’s faithfulness to look forward to (and so does anyone facing a similar situation). God’s grace will enable her to do the difficult things she will be called upon to handle. God’s word will guide her, lift her up, sustain her, comfort her, and bless her with peace that passes understanding.

     The beauty of it all is that by cooperating with God in the letting go process, we are being prepared to serve God more effectively. Our letting go serves a purpose! We are not hurting in vain. For the comfort we receive from God can serve to help others who are hurting as we have. 

 

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Compensations of sacrifice

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   A call from God can present some difficult challenges. So God always equips those He calls. God called my son and my daughter in law to the mission field.  Therefore, they have been and continue to be equipped by God to be able to deal with the challenges of such a life. But just as my son received God’s call to go, I received God’s call as well–to let him go.  

  Since their departure, God has given me opportunities I could never have imagined.   I’ve traveled to Peru where I have walked the ancient stone paths of Machu Picchu. In Africa I experienced the excitement of a safari, floated down the Nile River of Moses fame, and lived in a thatched roof mud hut in the savannah bush. A lifelong dream to go to Scotland was fulfilled not once but 3 times while my son studied for his masters at the University of Edinburgh.

   All of these adventures went a long way in compensating me for the sacrifice God had called upon me to make. But these adventures alone couldn’t have made up for the heartache my son’s exodus brought about.

But the following  has

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

My pain forced me to rely on God

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

In God I found comfort

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them from all their troubles.  The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17

I learned to focus on God, not my pain

  You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on You. Isaiah 26:33
  It was good for me to be affected so that I could learn Your statues. Instructions from Your lips is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Psalm 119:71

I learned that my pain would not overwhelm me

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

I have drawn again and again upon the lessons I’ve learned from my experience as a missionary’s mom. And that is compensation far beyond any sacrifice I could have made.

 

A Sending Mom!

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One last photo!

It was 6 years ago on January 4, 2012

   when I first said goodbye to my son and daughter in law. They were leaving for their first term on the mission field.
   If you go back and read those first blogs (and if you have just sent off a child to work overseas, I recommend you go back and read them) you might find just the comfort and resolve needed for the journey you find yourself traveling. (search using the dates above)
  My first posts do not shy away from describing the realities of the pain I felt. I knew other mom’s in my boat wouldn’t want me to sugar coat the trauma I was going through. But as my readers will note, I walked this difficult journey with Christ as my guide. Through many a painful experience along the way, I’ve found Jesus to be faithful. He allowed me the freedom to be honest with Him about what I was feeling. Because in describing my feelings, the Holy Spirit would impart verses of Scripture.  Words from God that would bring the strength and healing that I needed. My posts shares those particular verses.
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   Since 2012 my son and his family, (yes, two grandsons have come along) have come home once. That was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Extreme highs and extreme lows intensified by the fact that two of my daughters and their families moved out of state about the time my son and his family returned overseas. (Refer to  my other blog: http://www.fierydarts.com, posted 1-18-18)

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   It’s not been easy. Yet here I sit, posting yet again on my blog as a mom who by God’s grace has survived more separation than I care to mention. And I can honestly say, if it weren’t for God’s guidance, grace, and comfort I would be of all mom’s most miserable. But on the positive side…I can honestly say the joys and blessings I have received through this separation far, far exceeds the pain I endured. 

If you are sending a child to a far away land, turn to God’s Word. It will light your way!

God’s plans can be trusted as He points out in Jeremiah 29:11.

And when you feel too weak to carry on remember 2 Corinthians 12:9, & Isaiah 40:28-29

When you need sustenance , ponder Ps 55:22

Cry out in your pain, God will hear Psalm 34:17

And someday, you too will say, my joy can’t be described with words!

Not just another homecoming!

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  My excitement builds as we get closer and closer to April (that’s when I will lay my eyes on  and wrap my arms around my son, daughter in law, and my 3 year & 1 year old grandsons). Plans are in the making and for some of them we are running out of time. I suppose I will probably have to accept that some things just won’t get done. I have a hard time with that but what will be will be. I purpose to  keep my focus on the important stuff!

   A lot of things are racing around in my mind. For you see, my grandsons have never seen most of the people in their family (this is not the land of their birth as it is for their parents), my son and daughter in law have been living in a new land (with new people, new climate, new culture, new friends–most of whom we have never met). I’ve been warned that they will experience what is referred to as reverse culture shock. Sounds ominous doesn’t it!

   I’ve got a feeling we can’t expect just because they are coming home that this will  be just another homecoming, that everyone will just pick up where we left off 4 years ago! For during those 4 years we have moved forward without them and they have moved forward without us. Now our lives will be blended once more (but only temporarily; that’s an adjustment all by itself, sigh). We will all have to make the necessary adjustments, while always being sensitive to what each other’s needs are. But not sure at this point what that is suppose to look like!

   So in order to gain some insight into all of this, I am reading blogs about what this re-entry process (for them and for us) involves and am trying to prepare myself for the little surprises along the way.  We will learn from this (probably by making a few mistakes–I hope it’s only a few) and next time we travel this path we will possess a more realistic perspective about what to expect. So in the meantime,

there’s a verse that has always served me well for occasions such as this:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.1 Peter 4:8 NIV

We certainly have that in abundance and,  in addition, we have a sufficiency of grace, 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

   Therefore we will depend upon Love and Grace to smooth the way before us as we anticipate  this ‘not just another homecoming!’

God’s continuing faithfulness

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   Being a pastor’s family, getting to meet real live missionaries wasn’t an uncommon thing for us. I was always inspired by their testimonies and was curious about their uncommon lifestyles. But I dared not allow it to go any further.

Why?

   Because I feared what would be required of me if God called any of my children as missionaries.  So, I just lived in the moment, cherishing the time & space that I shared with my precious children, and tried not to think too much about what God might require of them (or me) in the future. 

   But eventually, the day came when God tenderly and lovingly sat me down and had me face this issue. It was a crisis moment for me. But I vividly remember laying it out before the LORD, in this manner.

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Dear LORD, I believe with all my heart that the safest place on earth for my children is in the center of Your will. But You know that I can’t bear the thought that Your plans for them someday might be to transplant them somewhere far from me. (I was sobbing at this point in my praying) Nevertheless, I surrender each one of them to You, and I will raise them to seek to be in the center of Your will. But would you please make it possible for me to go and visit them wherever You might lead them? But if this is not to be, I will trust You to make a way for me to do what I cannot do in my own strength.

And the results of such a prayer?

   While that prayer of release drained me, at the same time it set me free. The fiery dart of fear that had held sway over my mother’s heart, no longer held me in its suffocating grip. For God kept reminding me that His love for my children was far greater than I could imagine. He had wonderful plans for them (Jeremiah 29:11) and my job was to encourage my children to seek God’s best. God’s grace empowered me to do this (Philippines 4:13) and His grace (in my weakness) has always proven sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

   Now, here I am, 3 daughters married to ministers, and a son, living with his family in a far off land as a missionary (with 2 of my grandchildren, I might add). And while it’s not easy to live life separated from my son, the fact that 2 of my daughters (and 5 of my grandchildren) now live less than an hours drive and the other daughter (and 3 of my grandchildren) live less than 5 hours drive, is my sustaining comfort.

  God has indeed been faithful in providing the way and means for me to visit each of my daughters when they lived in other states. And only God could have provided for me to fly half way across the globe to be with my son. (Philippines 4:19)

   To this very day, God’s faithfulness continues!

 

 

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