Saying Goodbye - August 31, 2010
Jesus said in Luke 14:26 that a true disciple must "hate" those close to him. Although Jesus did not advocate hatred as we would define the word, He demanded that a Christian put Him first in his life, even above his own family.
It is easy to agree with such a statement, but when one is confronted with the reality of choosing Jesus over those closest to himself, the reality hits home.
Most missionaries must choose to leave behind what others take for granted. Spending time with family during the holidays, being able to attend weddings, graduations, funerals, and the birth of grandchildren are givens for most people. However, those serving the Lord overseas must forsake those things as they put Christ first in their lives.
In fact, some missionaries on the field must either send their children to boarding schools or back to the United States to receive proper education. When church members back in the States hear of such things, it is difficult for them to understand the emotional duress this places on the missionary and on the child(ren). The missionary must say "goodbye", at least for some time, to the ones he holds dear so that he can continue to do the Lord's work in a foreign land.
We came to understand the heartbreak of having to allow a loved one to go in a different direction than us, at least for a while. Our oldest daughter Krista is in her last two years of high school. She is in advanced placement and is actively involved in marching band. We feel it is best for her to finish high school with her grandparents rather than endure the rigors of deputation and homeschooling, which would be inadequate at her level and would leave her unprepared for college.
After spending six weeks with us over the summer of 2010 in Ohio, we took her to the airport in late July to send her back to Texas. As we spent our last few moments with her at the security screening gate, we said our
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
"goodbyes". We then watched her disappear into the sea of people beyond the security gate. It was then that the words of Jesus in Luke 14:26 echoed in my mind: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." It was also then that I understood the anguish missionaries feel when they say "goodbye" to loved ones in order to accomplish their ministry on the field.
Yes, we get to see and spend time with our daughter when we are in Texas, but the closeness we shared as a family was changed from that time forward. We shed many tears over the situation.
This is not meant to be a plea for pity because we do all for the glory of God and for Jesus and he will reward our losses many times over. However, please remember the many sacrifices missionaries make on behalf of their home churches, especially the closeness they must sacrifice with loved ones.