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Abundant Life Indeed – Even though miles apart!

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As God would have it, I am adjusting to being a long-distance grandmother.  Not saying I like it, just learning how to deal with it.  After the initial punch in the gut that my new grand baby is going to be born in a land far away, God has had mercy on me and is providing me with the grace I desperately need to accept this.

Sending my son off to this far away land is especially hard for me and now adding to an already hard situation is the fact that his sweet wife is expecting their first child.  Why is this so hard?  Well, several reasons. My son and I are close and over recent years, we have shared many memories and many heart-to-hearts.  He is my only son and came along at a time when I had given up on having a boy.  My husband and I had been abundantly blessed with 3 wonderful (in every way) daughters.  So when I realized that my cup was full to overflowing, I was able to release my desire for a son to God and peace reigned in my heart. Shortly, thereafter, we found out a 4th baby was on its way!  Honestly, I thought I was going to have another girl for I felt that was why God had conditioned me to release my desire to have a son!  Sometimes, God’s ways are past finding out! (Romans 11:33)

Raising Bobby has always been an adventure; not just for me, but for his dad and his sisters as well.  An adventure that has been downright challenging but a whole lot of fun at the same time!  When my son was 10 years of age, we moved to the family farm.  So during some very formative years, he had the privilege of growing up in an environment that reinforced a lot of what we were teaching him in our home.

And as wonderful as it was to raise my children on a farm, it sort of had an adverse affect on me eventually.  For you see, Bobby, for years, felt God was preparing him to become a farmer and that made perfect sense to me.  It gave me such peace in my heart to think that I would not have to worry about him moving off someday, but would have the joy and comfort of him being always nearby.  But that was not to be.  For when Bobby was a senior in high school, about to take up the responsibilities of farming, it was made clear to me that he was not to have that opportunity.  I had to break the news to him and he took it in stride.  His acceptance to this turn of events was my model to trust God to keep Bobby in the center of His will; even though events weren’t working out as we had expected.

After that time in my son’s life, God set him on a completely different course–working for a local industry while being heavily involved in youth work at our church filled up my son’s life.  Then while taking classes at a local community college he met and became friends with a family who would prove to be major figures in his future (his future wife’s family).  This relationship introduced him to an out of state Christian camp where he eventually went to work and live.

After that initial move, life for us became a series of goings and comings.  From camp, to hiking the Appalachain Trail, to 2 years in South America, then marriage, followed by graduation from college for both of them, leading them to replant their lives in Africa. All along the way, God empowered and enabled me to release my son to His care and keeping.  No easy task, let me tell you, but a task that by God’s grace was doable.

I think that one of the reasons I have found the strength to release my son has to do with God allowing 2 of my daughters and their 5 children to live only a few minutes drive from my home.  While my other daughter lives way off in Florida, I have had the privilege to visit her several times.  Unlike my son, we are able to email and video chat often which makes up for a lot.

So when I’m asked if I find it hard to deal with my son, daughter-in-law, and now grand baby being so far away, I have to say, “Yes.”  And for all of the reasons which I have shared with you in this post.  But like my son learned several years ago, I have learned to take things like this in stride.  When God calls your child to serve Him on the foreign mission field know that is going to require sacrifice.  But also know that when God places that calling on your life then He will equip you to be able to make those sacrifices.  Oh, it won’t be easy.  In fact, my adjustment has been characterized by a flood of tears, accompanied by an ache in my heart that I have found a way to live with, but a willingness to do what God has called me to do.  My heart is full of peace and as God continues to amaze me in how He provides ways to maintain that close connection I have with my son, I find that I can praise Him for the calling He has placed on my son and daughter-in-law’s lives.  They and we,their families, have an abundant life indeed!

Sacrifice brings glory?

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Maridith's washing machine!

A few days ago Bobby & Maridith posted this picture.  They had been visiting the people who are living in the house they hope to be moving into in a few weeks.  Maridith is preparing the washing machine they will be using for 4 adults and 3 small children.

A sweet lady at my church, after seeing this picture made the following comment, “I now have a whole new appreciation for my electric washing machine and dryer, and for the sacrifices Bobby & Maridith are making.”  This lady loves Bobby & Maridith and supports them in prayer and various other ways, so I knew that God was doing a work in her about sacrifice.

Her statement prompted a thought of my own.  Sacrifice is something we are all called to.  What it looks like for others may be different than what it looks like for us, but we can’t live for Jesus as we should if we aren’t willing to make sacrifices.

AND THEREIN LIES THE PROBLEM!

The issue of sacrifice is completely foreign to most Americans, given the luxuries that are ours in abundance.  For those of us who are Christians, this abundance makes it difficult to keep the concept of sacrifice in balance.  Here in America materialism makes sacrifice an unattractive concept.

And for some of us it’s not so much the material things we would have to give up but giving up our children and grandchildren to answer a call that would lead them to a far away place becomes the greater challenge.

But does anything of great worth in this life come without sacrifice?  I think not.  My mind ponders the gripping pain of contractions that brings the birth of a child.  You ask any mother if the sacrifices her body endured during her pregnancy was worth it and you’ll hear a resounding yes!  Great sacrifice brings great rewards.

And, of course, the most powerful of all sacrifices was made by Jesus when He paid the price for our sins on the cross.  The Bible gives irrefutable evidence that Jesus thought His sacrifice was worth it!  Your own salvation says as much!

Here’s the deal.  It’s all about perspective.  A mother willing makes sacrifices during her pregnancy because her focus is on the baby that will be born. Jesus was able to make His sacrifice because He looked beyond the cross.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – (Hebrews 12:2)

So when we are called upon to make sacrifices (like giving up your children to go live in a foreign land and having to become a long distance grandmother when those babies start coming), we have to avoid focusing on the sacrifice and instead focus on the glory.  Just think of the souls that will be introduced to Jesus because your child was willing to make sacrifices so those souls could hear the Good News. (When you get to heaven, that’s going to be a really big deal!)  Just think of the adventure and experiences they will have and don’t be surprised if God includes you in some of those along the way.  If we can get ourselves out of the way and start focusing on how our children’s lives will be blessed and benefited, (and ours too) because they answered God’s call upon their lives and we were willing to give them up, then the sacrifices made begins to dim and the glory we and they will experience  grows brighter.

Now, take a look at this picture:

How would you like to wake up to this view every morning?

 Bobby wrote the following words after being inspired by such a view,

….I have found a new peace here. A peace that comes not from the serenity that surrounds me, nature can be deceiving, but from my God, the One who brought me here. What is it that You have brought me here to do? Am I ready? Will I be strong enough? God help me to trust in You for all of this. It is You who brought me here, it is You who will keep me.

The God that created the beauty surrounding them, will tenderly and lovingly provide for my son and daughter-in-law’s every need.  They are willing to trust Him and follow Him.  I will do no less!  Was their sacrifice and mine worth it?  Already, I can give a resounding, YES!

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