Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, If I settle on the far side of the sea, Even there you hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. Ps. 139:7-10
“Mommy. God talked to me today in church.” That was the statement from my 7 year old daughter Hannah.
I was interested to hear what this was about, so I asked, “What did he say?”
“That’s what God said? Go? That’s all?”
And off she skipped, leaving my mind arguing with my constricting heart. This, my daughter who suffered with extreme separation anxiety from me. The same one who they had to peel off of my leg when I dropped her off at school each day. This girl, heard God say to go? Hmmm.
My mind said, “Wow, she heard God. It is what you have prayed for…that she would know his voice.”
“Maybe he didn’t mean go. Or at least not far. It doesn’t mean she has to go into missions and live in some foreign country. I mean she is so young. She may have not heard right.” rationalized my heart. But deep down it knew then that one day she would go. I have watched her heart for people of the world develop in the years since this first encounter with God’s plan. Just a few years later, when she was 12 she came again to talk.
“I feel like I am supposed to go to Brazil on the mission trip at church. I think God wants me to go.”
“You know that means getting on a plane…something you have sworn not to ever do? And it means shots? And raising a lot of money?” (I was such an encouragement )
“I am supposed to go. So I will be able to do those things.” my bold daughter replied.
“Okay then…you should go.”
And so she did. When she returned her face was beaming. She could not stop talking about her trip and those people. Once again, my heart constricted. Next she was off to England. I went along, and I saw the excitement shining in her eyes to be in a different culture. Her love for the nations, only grew. Over the next few years, she went back to Brazil four more times. By the fourth time, my heart knew that it should prepare itself.
When she went off to college she had another opportunity… to go to Israel…for 6 weeks. When I got the first flyer about the trip, a peace came over me and I knew she was to go. I was beginning to learn to let her follow her heart. She would do an archeological dig and tour the country, including some of the most dangerous areas. The idea was to get an up close look at the mid-east conflict by experiencing the culture of each different party involved. She would get a full semester credit, and I would learn to trust God with her safety. For weeks after her return, she missed Israel and the people. When she declared a religion/anthropology double major to study foreign cultures, my heart finally stopped its wrestling and smiled.
So I knew today would come. ..the day I put her on another plane to another foreign land. This time it is Africa and it is for 6 months. She will go to the University of Ghana as a student, but one of her main goals is to work in an orphanage there. I can see already that she will leave part of her heart there when she returns, just as she has in each previous country.
Other moms ask me how I can be so calm. I tell them I am not calm, but I am at peace with this. There is a difference. God has been preparing my heart in stages just as he has prepared hers. I still fear for her safety, but I cannot let my fear hold her back from her calling. I have come to realize that she belongs to God, and that he will care for her. I hold her with an open hand. I will be honest with you, I worry about pretty much everything that could go wrong. But I am no longer bound by my worry. I can lay it down…I might have to do it every day, but God is faithful to remind me he is the one who told her to go. Therefore she will go, and I will watch her. I will pray and support and encourage…it’s what moms do. I know he has a plan for her. I am privileged enough to get to participate in it. I cannot wait to see how it unfolds. Today my heart goes to Africa.