The previous lesson prepared me for the next; sell our home, walk away from 20+ year careers and financial security and health care and serve the destitute-wherever God may lead. This was not the hardest part, nor was it where we received the majority of criticism. It was the fact we were taking our children to “unsafe” places. Where is the line of parental responsibility to keep our children safe? I had to wrestle with this question a while for the answer my children and I would live (or die) with. There were a few intense shaming sessions from well meaning friends who were convinced I was not doing the right thing by my children. (I wonder how often we use our children to avoid the sacrifice and discomfort we might be asked to endure? I know from personal experience that it’s easy trap to fall into.) Possible poverty, loss of family and friends and home, exposure to sickness and disease and danger and war- many are convinced this is all detrimental to a childhood; yet millions of children are all ready suffering these tragedies at intense levels. Do I turn my eyes and leave them to suffer and die in order to keep my own children “perfectly safe”? Even if I revolved my life around safety, American children are dying by the dozen in school shootings and in the thousands every year on the highways and from suicide, homicide, cancer, etc. This is so hard!
We chose to step out and trust God. (This is going to be different for everyone. In our case, God had invited us to go to some scary places. Stepping out for you might be a matter of the heart first. That is also where we started, dedicating our children to God and trusting Him with His plan for them). Due to our choice, our son
suffered the fever and chills of a life threatening malaria on his fourteenth birthday. Thankfully, we had the resources to treat him, unlike so many of his new friends who die from lack of seventy-five cents worth of medicine. He also lost twenty-five pounds and came out of Africa skin and bones, but he now has a concept of the hunger millions of children around the world live with every day and empathy to balance the entitlement he has struggled with.
My oldest daughter spent months feeling very isolated and lonely due to the fact that all other girls her age were in the village working from sun up to sun down. She studied in solitude while watching lines of teenage girls going miles for water and firewood and came to appreciate the education she had always taken for granted. Her pain motivated her to engage with the younger girls and love, encourage and teach them as much as possible. The isolation she suffered has helped her to overcome the self-consciousness and shyness that once defined her, and instead act with compassion towards the lonely.
My twelve-year-old daughter suffered severe stress and anxiety in general with our traveling and moving, so she shadowed me in the clinic in order to feel safe and ended up assisting a dozen deliveries. She heard me yell and pray in panic as a teenage mother was bleeding out and the last dose of Pitocin had already been given. She held the flashlight while I bagged a baby for 45 minutes (in a power outage in middle of the night) who had been born without any life due to five exhausting hours of a first time mother’s pushing-the hospital two hours away but too many highway bandits at night to safely get there. She witnessed a surprise birth of breech twins and laid on the dirt floor to comfort a very ill school girl suffering with malaria. She experienced God’s presence come and rescue us time and time again. I worried about her the most and doubted our decision many times as I watched her struggle, but she blossomed when shoved out of her comfort zone.
We are now living in the states and my children are still not safe. This week we have been pummeled with terrible news of terrorist attacks, a good friend just died in a car accident and another lost a child to cancer. The world is not safe. In my simplicity I see few options; hide my family in a cellar and curl up in a ball and hibernate (ensured safety from most risk but definitely a swift death by starvation), live in fear while attempting to control the people and world around me (probably not any safer in reality but for sure death emotionally) or daily put my trust in God and push aside fear while chasing after all Jesus has for my family (certain death eventually, but a life well lived) Better yet- lets run this race together and encourage each other with truth!
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one! Isaiah 44:8
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears.He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17 N
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38