“Mommy, there is an airplane!” Micah’s little voice piped up from the back seat as we were driving through town. I quickly glanced out from my window and saw a jetliner leaving its slowly fading trail in the pristine blue sky. “Yes Micah, that is an airplane! Soon mommy, daddy and Micah will be on an airplane just like that. We will be way up high in the sky. That airplane will take us to Africa.” Micah was quiet, then asked, “Mommy, will it be for a long time?” “Yes, I answered. A very long time, in fact you will be eight years old once we return.” As the words left my mouth an emotion of deep sadness filled my heart. Warm tears filled my eyes and ran slowly down my cheeks. The thought of leaving all that is familiar, leaving ones homeland for one so unfamiliar and to include my child in that change was in the moment, suddenly unbearable. And then in that moment of such sorrow a quiet voice filled my mind, reminding me, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”(Proverbs 3:5, 6). As suddenly as the tears had began a feeling of quiet confidence in Christ and reassurance in His strength settled into my heart.
I share this very private moment in my day with you for one reason, and that is for you to realize the struggle that goes on daily in the minds and hearts of those who decide to follow the Lord by faith and to see how good the Lord is through it all. The closer we get to leaving, the nearer the Lord becomes to us.
Years ago, I remember when we first stepped out in faith. We had left South Dakota and were traveling to Idaho to find a place to call home. We knew no one in Idaho, we had no job waiting for us, we had no idea what town we would settle in or what job opportunities laid in wait. With our Buick Regal packed full we left all that was familiar to us because we felt the Lord was leading us. During that trip I distinctly remember joking that we were like Abraham, who left all that he knew to be familiar, to follow God’s calling. As Neil and I set up camp every night in various parks throughout our journey to Idaho I thought of Abraham even more, he who had set up camp wherever the Lord had called him, and after the sun had gone down and I was sitting next to a dying campfire I once again thought of Abraham as I gazed up into the cold clear night sky and saw the stars. I couldn’t help but imagine that the scene I was looking at in that moment was probably much like what Abraham saw as God told him, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” God offered promise and confirmation to Abraham, and Abraham believed God.
As we set off on yet another journey, this time to a different continent, my thoughts have once again turned to Abraham. I wonder what it would have been like to have been him. At the time that God called Abraham he lived in Ur of the Chaldees, which was a very rich, affluent society. The people lived in homes with courtyards boasting of lush gardens and many modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing. The people that dwelt in the land had mastered the system of irrigation and as a result crops and livestock thrived and wealth was plentiful. And in this place of comfort Abraham was called. I often wonder what his thoughts were initially after God spoke to him and said, “Get out from your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” In my mind this is a pretty steep command from God, especially for someone in those days. Families depended on each other for survival and yet God was telling him go against his culture, to leave his father’s house and his homeland for something unseen. Then God followed up this difficult command with this, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” If the command from God for Abraham to leave his family was steep then the promise that God followed it up with soared to the heavens, indeed to the very heart of God Himself. He would keep all his promises to Abraham, unconditionally, and the Bible says that Abraham believed God. Because Abraham stepped out by faith, believing what could not be seen, grabbing hold of what could not be felt, the Savior of humanity would one day come through him. Throughout his journey of faith there were times of doubt, perhaps when he lingered with his father’s family in Haran, or when he doubted that God would provide a son through Sarah. Even once the promised son was born there was the time when God asked Abraham to put his cherished son’s life at risk on top of a mountain. Yet throughout God’s relationship with Abraham, God confirmed over and over his love for him. A perfect example of this is in Genesis 17:1 when God revealed Himself to Abraham as El Shaddai or Almighty God. This is the first time El Shaddai is mentioned in Genesis. God said, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.”
When God put the burden of missions on our hearts and we began tapping gently on the door to see if it would open, and when it did swing wide open, we were amazed and dare I say a little afraid? Perhaps I have felt a little like Abraham did when God asked him to leave his country, his comfortable surroundings, his family and his father’s house for something he did not know. Yet if I felt like Abraham in that moment then I certainly can identify with Abraham once he heard the promises of God that followed the calling. How can I be certain? Because the same God has called us, "He is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8) and these are the promises that He has given to our family:
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Being confident of this very thing,
that He who has begun a good work in you
will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure.
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves,
but our sufficiency is from God.
-2 Corinthians 3:5
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you
and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Casting all your care upon him for he cares for you.
-1 Peter 5:7
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them;
for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.
He will not leave you nor forsake you.
Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing
of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
…Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.