A table buried beneath papers and books became mission central last week as the first homework of the new year arrived. We had taken special care in choosing colorful backpacks they would like. On this day, however, backpacks turned into the dreaded things from which math, science, and spelling assignments came. The days of unlimited Nintendo Wii play were over.
We sat watching three tired children slide into blank stares and self-defeat. “I’m just a loser,” said one with a heavy sigh. “I can’t do anything,” said another, close to tears. It was hard to listen to and watch.
We could only look ahead to a time very soon when they will face a much more difficult challenge. We looked at each other through this scene and knew what had to be done. Love them. Help them steer through this. Empower them to look beyond the first day or the first week to a time when they would thrive.
This was all being played out in a context we’ve been living in for years here in Tyler, TX. Just new grade levels. New teachers. Same school. Many of the same friends. Same distance as we walk to get there. But, what about when we walk them into their new school in Italy after beginning a new life? How will they bounce when we leave them the first day to meet new friends and teachers speaking a new language?
This for us is one of the most exciting things about doing missions: Cultivating a global vision in our children and the courage to be bridge-builders for the sake of the Gospel. Building a holy flame beneath them and blowing the kindling. Teaching them to take hold of the Word of God for direction and strength as we launch as a team into the unknown.
It’s their calling, too, after all. God didn’t just call parents who drag children along. God’s dare to “Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possessions” (Ps 2:8) is just as tangible for Lilly, Zach, and Story as it is for mom and dad. What a sweet thought that God is working in their child-sized hearts even now, whispering promises and planting seeds in them that will stay buried until the proper time.
Homework for now, inheriting the nations soon enough. Their calling is secure. Until that day, we pray for them and prepare them. And God will put them to flight.