And yet, being here in the States, I am seeing that following God's call on our life as overseas missionaries has been costly on us as a family. We have given up much. Each member of our family has had to pay a real price in order to live and serve our Lord overseas. I don't know if things would have been better or worse living this time in the USA, but I do know it has been costly to us as a family emotionally, spiritually, physically. In a real sense we bear real "scars" of our choice to follow Jesus like we have.
I have often thought about Jesus response to Peters words in Luke 18, "Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You." And He [JESUS] said... "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life."
These words were the text of the message preached by Keith Parks at our appointment service as missionaries back in December of '86. I have always focused on the last part that promises we will receive "many times as much" for the little we might have sacrificed. But there is no skipping over the high cost entailed in leaving behind those things and people in order to fulfill one's calling. There is a price to be paid. It isn't easy.
These days we have spent in the States have highlighted in so many ways, "what might have been" had we NOT chosen to heed His call. While America is far from perfect, there is so much good and abundance of opportunities and blessings that few people in the rest of the world can even come close to dreaming about. When we see the houses, cars, and lifestyles of our peers, we can't help but wonder if, we too, might be living like that had we not chosen to follow His call on our lives. When we see all the missed opportunities available for our children, one can't help but have second thoughts about them getting "second best" by our living overseas like we do.
Don't get me wrong, we aren't thinking about resigning. I don't believe God is finished with us yet in what He has for us to do in Ecuador, but we have had a lot of time to reflect the past few weeks. Stateside Assignment (furlough) is indeed a time for reflection, evaluation, processing, restoration, healing, rest, and re-equipping for returning. We have been so grateful to the Lord for this time made available to us to deal with our own needs.
Some of the questions going around in my head these days are:
- has it been worth it?
- are we really making a difference overseas?
- have we really made any kind of lasting, significant contribution?
- is it time to move on and do something else?
- is the work better or worse off for our being there?
- have we been faithful?
- are we supposed to go back?
- does God have more for us to do there before relieving us of this responsibility?
- how do we balance of obeying God's call with the needs of our children?
Will you continue to hold the ropes for us?