Starting out as a disciple of Christ, I had stars in my eyes. Dreams, destiny, purpose, and calling into the ministry were words of love and passion in a new-found romance with Christ. They gave me courage, built and established faith, and sealed my decision to live a life not my own.
Jesus Christ saved me. I was a lost, sinning, proud, aching mess. On my knees on rough Berber carpet with eyes blinded by tears I accepted the Lordship of Christ over my life. November 1997. Something changed that day. It is not enough to believe in Jesus Christ. Even the demons believe that. But to accept his Lordship over your life is the door to living a crucified life. It is how He can use a foolish, weak person to expand the reach of the gospel. To borrow a quote from the beloved Princess Bride, I died that day. Grateful to finally be rid of the false pretense of religion, I took a breath of spirit-life. Exposed, vulnerable, my Father took me and clothed me in righteousness. Seated me on high with his Son. Called. Chosen. Works prepared in advance for me to do.
15 years later, I am coming to a realization. Well established in ministry, I am not where I thought I would be. I am not old, but each year that passes makes it increasingly unlikely we can easily uproot our family and live a life of adventure. Settled in the midwest isn’t what I thought it meant to be a pioneer.
I have come to realize, you see, following hard after God is not only about passion and adventure. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith. Simply put, it is not our choice how He will use these years we have on earth. I assumed that my calling into ministry meant I would live on the mission field, raise my children in a third culture. My dreams centered around reaching unreached people groups with the gospel. Even with the birth of our first child, I held on to vain imagination that I could go on, without sacrificing any of my dreams, and still raise secure, godly children. I couldn’t fathom God asking me to lay down my dreams for a new calling on my life! That of motherhood.
‘Before Babies’ I imagined myself hiking in the Himalayan Mountains with a kid in my backpack or taking a longboat to a remote island in Thailand with a baby in a sling. Any experienced mother could have (but kindly did not) burst out laughing at me. I had no idea what it meant to offer your body as a living sacrifice until going through pregnancy, childbirth, and the state of sleep deprivation those blessed new parents experience. And what exactly was I planning on doing with the diapers on that trek through the Himalayas? Oh, and the threat of malaria at Mozambique border in South Africa? The busses in Asia teetering so close to the edge of a cliff that you can see the remains of rusted engines who did not stay on the road? Nine hour layovers with this fussy baby…what’s that you say about babies needing routine?
I will fiercely hold on to the dreams in my heart to reach the nations with the gospel. Keeping them alive gives me passion to impart God’s heart for the nations to my children. If God says go, we will go. If he says stay, we will stay. He has allowed our roots to go down deep in Missouri. This soil is ours.
I’d like to share with you two visions God gave me. The only ones I’ve ever had. Maybe it will give you renewed hope that God planted dreams in your heart for a reason, and he will bring them to fruition from his eternal perspective unbound by time. In 2002, sitting in a boat on the Mai Kong River in Northern Thailand. We were on our way to Laos, in an area known as the Golden Triangle. Far up the muddy, wide, thick river was China. To the west, Myanmar. As clear as anything, I sensed the Lord saying, ‘Your children will inherit that land.’ He went on to say I may never go to those places, but my children will. They will inherit a double portion of what I have received.
Later in that same year, in South Africa we were traveling in a small bakkie (pick-up truck) to a region known as Mafeking. Bumping along, I glanced out the window to see vast sunflower fields, stretching as far as the eye could see They were in full bloom, each yellow and black face turned toward the glowing sun. The field stretched on as we drove for several minutes. As I saw these fields, the Lord spoke to me about seeds. One small sunflower seed multiples itself 100x as it grows to be its own plant. Each of those seeds then grow to produce their own plant. As this repeats itself an entire field will grow, reproducing a countless number of seeds. As you lay down your life in faith, letting the seed fall to the ground and die, he will raise up a crop of righteousness and praise that will fill the earth.
Little did I know then what those two visions would mean to me now. I was a newlywed, with no children at the time. Living the life of adventure. My children are now my adventure, unpredictable yet ordinary. It’s not trekking through the mountains of Nepal, or chasing nomadic sheep herders in Bhutan. But I need to ‘treat each day as sacred in their development’ as Sally Clarkson writes. The eternal significance of giving yourself wholeheartedly to the calling of motherhood cannot be measured. Embrace it, as I am learning to do, and trust the Lord with the precious dreams of your heart.