My Long Journey To Goodbye, Part 2

A Look Inside the Journal of a Mother of a Missionary

This 3 part guest series is written by our friend Lori Strickland and it shares her experience watching her son’s journey to the mission field. We hope you gain insight on what it’s like for a parent who’s child is called to GO.

The Journal Entries…

April 11, 2017 2:32 p.m.

I had a realization a few days ago. I’m ashamed to admit it to anyone…even myself. When I heard of new support being committed, instead of being happy that they are reaching their goal, my heart sank. That meant it was one dollar…and one step…closer to when I would have to say goodbye. I’ve come a long way in my thinking, but I’m not ready yet. I am still selfish in my thinking. I don’t want them to reach their goals. I don’t want them to get all the support they need. I don’t want them to leave. It’s not fair. I don’t want to be the understanding, supportive mom anymore. I don’t want to try to hold back the tears as I try to explain to people what they’re doing. I don’t want to smile when they share a piece of good news about the field. I don’t want to be nice anymore. I want to run away. I want to leave the room. I want to scream until they understand what this is doing to me. I am weary of it, and yet…what else can I do?

April 12, 2017 8:29 a.m.

…I want what I want. I don’t want what God seems to want. I have pleaded with Him to change His plan, to make some other way for them to fulfill their calling on their lives. I have prayed for a burden on their hearts to work domestically. I have prayed, even, for setbacks so that there would be more time for them to change their minds. (In my mind…for them to see the light.) I realize that sometimes (if not every time) when I prayed like this, I was praying against God’s will. What kind of a person (or Christian…or even Mom) am I? Sheesh. I see the “wrong-ness” of it, yet it is what I want to do. I know the outcome is never good when you are working against the will of God, but I find myself doing it over and over.

5:55 p.m.

I actually had a lady say to me today, “Boy, I wouldn’t want to go over there (my son’s intended destination). Those people are crazy.” Thank you…that helps a lot. Think about what you say people. This is my son!

10:34 p.m.

God, as I come to the close of this day, I’m trying. God, You know I am. I am trying to want Your will for my kids and for me, but it’s hard. I know You already know that, but I just have to say it to You…it’s really hard. I’ll keep trying.

April 18, 2017 10:11 a.m.

I’m trying to remind myself today that I have to want God’s will more than I want my own will. I have to trust God to take care of my kids. I have to want other peoples’ salvation more than I want time with my own kids here on earth. I know all this is true. I will remind myself of this today…over and over if I have to.

May 24, 2017 9:49 a.m.

As I was sitting at a dinner after a revival service in Burlington, CO this evening, the conversation somehow turned to our children, and someone asked about mine – how old they are, what they do, where they live, etc. When I said that my oldest and his wife were raising support for missions work and would be leaving (we think) sometime in the fall, I got this look. She smiled at me, but it wasn’t a regular happy smile. While she smiled, she looked sad, tilted her head to the side and sort of said, “Ahh..” It was pity. She felt sorry for me. Part of me hated that look she gave me. She was trying to be nice, to sympathize with how I must feel, but I hated the look. Another part of me felt satisfied. I want people to pity me. I tell the story of my kids leaving in hopes that someone…anyone…will feel sorry for me. I hope that they will have enough pity to hurt along with me. I want them to understand the feelings that go along with this life, but then when they try…I hate the look they give me.

I’m pitiful.

May 28, 2017 9:00 p.m.

Today was hard…and good. I have known for some time that Evan was supposed to preach this morning at church. I always shed a few tears when I watch my kids speak or perform. I’m not sure why. It’s just an emotional mom thing I guess. I was prepared for that. What I was not prepared for was the way his words rocked me to the core.

He spoke on “The Question of What”. My son and daughter-in-law get a lot of questions from people when they find out they are planning to move to the mission field. Things like, “Where are you going? With whom are you going? How are you going to do that?” These are questions that they expect. But they also receive questions they almost wish they didn’t have to answer. Questions like “Why? Why would you ever leave the United States?” “Why would you throw away financial security?” “How? How could you leave your family?” “How could you call yourself a good husband…a good father and drag your family off to a foreign country?” “You want to go where? The largest Muslim nation in the world? And you want to talk to who? The witchdoctor?”

Who…where…why…how…All perfectly valid questions for somebody who does not understand the question of…WHAT.

Matthew 13 records the parable of the great treasure in a field. When a man finds out about this treasure, he sells all he owns and buys the field…and therefore, the treasure. I’m sure some people thought he was crazy, but he knew it was worth it. Jesus said that this is what the kingdom of heaven is like. It costs everything you have, but it’s worth the price.

So that brings us to the “what” question. What is Jesus worth to you? What is Jesus worth to me? People are always looking for a way to get something for nothing. That’s a dangerous place to be when you are talking about your relationship with God. Don’t you think? We want to obey the easy commands, but like it or not, Jesus asks of us some pretty hard things. “Do not kill.” Ok, that’s easy. But, “love your enemies?” Who wants to do that?

We try to make the hard commands more palatable by saying things like, “Well, I know Jesus said that, but what he really meant was…” When we do that, we distort Jesus until He no longer looks like the Jesus we see in the gospels, or throughout scripture. We end up portraying Him as a picture of whatever we want Him to be. That’s blasphemy. We each have to decide for ourselves if we really believe who He is. If so, then we have to be devoted to whatever he asks us to do. We cannot say we believe He is who He is and not obey. It’s impossible. It comes down to total, complete, non-negotiable surrender and obedience. Is Jesus worth that to you?

(At this point in the sermon I started to see a little glimpse of the train wreck that was headed right for my heart. What is Jesus worth to me? Is He who He says He is? Yes, I believe He is. Am I willing to do what He asks of me? In theory, yes…but I know in my life, my answer would have to be no. I have not been willing. I have not been willing to give my son away to a land and a people with whom I am not familiar. I have not been willing to give up the close relationship that I have with my grandchildren. I have not been willing to say goodbye to the relationship I have had with my son and his family and build a different kind of long-distance relationship.)

In Mark 10, there is a rich man who asks what he must do in order to follow Jesus. Jesus gives him a list of things, but it’s the last one that he really has a hard time with. Jesus tells him, “Go sell everything you have…Then come, follow Me.” He went away sad because he was rich and was apparently unwilling to give it all away. Jesus wasn’t worth that to him.

“Are we not rich people? Use what you’ve been given to advance the Gospel, and hold it with an open hand, because God will ask for it, and He doesn’t want reservations. Is Jesus worth that to you?”

(When my son said those words, I knew that train was bearing down on me. It was too late to dodge it or get off the tracks…which is what I’ve been doing to months. It hit me head on, and I knew…it was like I heard God saying, “Lori, you better hold that boy of yours with an open hand. I’m asking for you to give him to me with no reservations. Am I worth that to you?”)

The Gospel is free. God’s grace is free…to any who will accept it. However, it is most certainly not cheap. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship said this, “Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

“No, this…is not cheap. It costs everything, but everything is something that everyone can afford to pay. Is Jesus worth that to you?” When Evan said those words, I knew I had to make up my mind. I knew He had to be…worth it, that is. The thing was, now I had to live like it. I had to quit wallowing around in the muck I had cultivated for myself. Yes, Jesus was worth it. Yes, I would have to say goodbye to my son. Yes, I was willing to do that…finally.

It’s funny to me that it was my own son’s words that finally brought me to a place that I was willing to let him go. It was his wisdom conveyed to me that made me realize there was really only one decision I could make.

I once heard someone say, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” I don’t think I’m an outstanding mom. I don’t think I’m any more important, or even much different, than any other mom trying to raise her children to follow God. While I do anticipate that my son (and all my kids) will accomplish great things for God, I think the most important thing I could do is to let go. I did the best I could at raising this kid. Now, I need to let go and let him do what he was raised to do…follow the Lord, love Him with all his heart, and listen to His call. I have accomplished something if I can do that.

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