Thursday, February 5, 2015

On the Altar... Again

I am going to tell you a secret...

          Missionary women are human, too.

Sometimes we lay things on the altar submitting them to the Lord, and then we pick it right back up again. Other times we think we have fully laid something on the altar only to realize we don't fully trust the Lord like we should. Such is the case when it comes to our children.


The Lord often uses experiences on the mission field to help us see what is truly in our hearts so that we can grow and so that we can see Him for who He really is.

I asked a group of some wonderful missionary women to share some tests God has used in their lives on the field to help them learn to fully put their children on the altar. The following is a compilation of some of the situations they shared with me.

Please come walk with me as we lay our children Back on the Altar.


He gave them to us, and we gave them back to Him. 
I placed my children on the altar because I can trust my Father.

The call to the field came and we were excited to go...
Until I realized the sacrifices my children would be making.

Cold winters with little heat.
     Separated from grandparents.
          Culture shock.
               The comforts of home.
                    Everything familiar... gone.
                          Real sacrifices.

But then I remembered God's strength. 
     And I placed my children back on the altar because I can trust my Father.

Bundled up to stay warm while doing school

A pregnancy... a loss. Over and over. My heart breaks. I long to hold them, each and every one. I am giving so much on the field. This sacrifice feels more than I can bear.

But then I remembered God's compassion.
     And I placed my children (those I never got to hold, those I may never have,
         and those that God may or may not give) on the altar because I can trust my Father.

Clean, fresh air miles away. They cough and wheeze as they breath in the pollution. My heart breaks for them. I can see their health isn't as strong as it would be in some other place, but God called us here. I struggle inside. What should I do? Some say we should just leave. But this is where God has called us.

But then I remembered God's wisdom.
     And I placed my child back on the altar because I can trust my Father.

Overlooking the smog-filled valley

So far from a hospital. Sickness strikes. But he's only a baby! Can we make it in time? Will I be able to be there? It's so far away even to see a doctor. A child struggling, developmental delays and no help nearby. Maybe it would be better in the States. Maybe things would be different. Maybe it would just be easier for me to deal with it. I am plagued with "what ifs."

But then I remembered God's faithfulness.
     And I placed my child back on the altar because I can trust my Father.

They are so lonely. Painful and difficult to watch them feeling so isolated. Culture shock and language barriers. I see the tears they shed. I cry for them. I cry with them.

But then I remembered God's grace.
     And I placed my child back on the altar because I can trust my Father.

The dangers are real. I try not to worry, but then tragedy becomes a reality. Hit by a car on a busy road. An assault. A robbery. Rape. Years of recovery. And I struggle. Will they ever heal?

But then I remembered God's love.
     And I placed my child back on the altar because I can trust my Father.

This is so hard! I am trying to teach them myself. And I struggle wondering if they are getting what they need. Their education is important, but my options are so few. I feel so inadequate.

But then I remembered God's sovereignty.
     And I placed my child back on the altar because I can trust my Father.

I feel like I am leaving my heart on the other side of the world. They are going to college, but I must head back to the field. Who will watch out for them? Who will take care of them when they are sick? I will not be there. I will be thousands of miles away. Surgeries? Struggles? I have always been the one to take them to the doctor and to pamper them in their sickness. I have been the shoulder they have cried on. Now what's going to happen?

But then I remembered God's infinite presence.
     And I placed my child back on the altar because I can trust my Father.

We tried so hard. We raised them in God's Word. We raised them in God's house. We lived it in front of them as best we could. But now they have strayed. Drugs. Alcohol. Jail. Our heart breaks. How could this happen? And they are so far away from us. There is a tug to leave the field, yet the call keeps us here. I want to run to them and fix it. My pillow is stained with my tears. 

But then I remembered God's long arm and
      how there is no one too low that He cannot reach them.
          And I placed my child back on the altar because I can trust my Father.

This journey of parenthood is hard. Combining it with the difficulties of being missionaries is too big for me. But through these difficulties, I am learning more about my Father, and how much I can trust Him and lean on Him. I am learning that the best parenting isn't done by those who are great at it. The best parenting is done by those who realize they cannot do it without completely relying on the Lord. Good parenting isn't Pinterest inspired. Good parenting is opening God's Word, getting on our knees, and asking God (often with tear-streaked cheeks) to parent through us... to teach us... to sustain us... to guide us.

And even in the difficulties, even in the moments that seem like total disasters, we can place our children on the altar because He is worthy of our trust.

"Casting all your care upon him;
for he careth for you."
1 Peter 5:7 


Helensue Christian said...

My husband and I were just discussing this yesterday. Are we doing our handicapped son a disservice by keeping him on the field where he can't work, where he can't get life skills to live on his own if anything ever happened. He will be 20 soon and there are many things he cannot do. Thank you for the reminder. We placed our older children on the altar and had peace, but with our youngest we struggle.

Tori Leslie said...

What beautiful words to remind us of the faithfulness of God. I have had to remind myself often, not that two of our children are stateside that the Lord loves them far more than I do.
Thank you for a lovely post!

Lisa Sampson said...

Be careful, you may be able to trust God but the kids never will because God never came through for them so they will never trust Him. Be care not to give your kids on the alter of ministry and not nurture them in in the hand of God. God says he will father the fatherless never said he will father those in a Godly home , He gave you charge of them with his strength and to teach them and if they never experience the merciful, fulfilling, loving God, all you teach will be void. A call should never be above your kids it should coincide with them to nurture them in Christ. Sorry to be bluntly honest but your kids are your legacy not your ministry. I totally believe God will never say well done thou good and faithful if you loss your kids to the world. As an MK and now a missionary with kids in an isolated area,who has seen a lot, I know not all will follow Christ, I do not want to give missionaries an excuse to neglect the emotional needs of MKs. I may not be being kind to the missionary but I want to be kind to the MKs struggling. God loves them but you are in charge. May God give me and you all knowledge and wisdom as we raise our precious MKs. God bless!

Lou Ann Keiser said...

Beautiful post!