Do You Have
Our Story for His Glory
“What a romantic life you lead!” our neighbor said as he tried to conceal a mocking grin. I wish he was serious, but he was actually being facetious. Alexei couldn’t help but chuckle as he stood in our living room, looking on as the paramedics loaded my husband into an ambulance to take him to the nearest hospital to have a cast put on his broken leg.
When we first arrived in Central Asia, this young, Russian father-of-three rented his home to our ragtag family, fresh off the airplane from America. He knew we had come here on business—our Father’s business.
As a fellow believer, he and his family were eager to help us get settled and to be part of what we were sent here to do. Our children attended Russian preschool together, we practiced Russian lessons together, we shared meals together, and we worshiped together. During those times, I was always taking out my camera and snapping photos. I asked if they minded when I took pictures. Alexei just smiled and said in his broken English, “It’s okay; it’s for your family story.”
Our family story...what is it?
Years ago, as we prepared to come on this mission, it seemed almost a surreal adventure. People marveled at the journey that lay ahead. Many people even spoke longingly of their desire to do “such a great thing for God.” In some ways, it was a “romantic dream” to leave everything behind and embark on an exciting journey with only God as our guide. Well, it’s exciting, all right. And yes, every day is a new adventure. But it’s just an adventure called Life—life on the mission field, life as a family who said yes to God.
Every day, that same God reminds me He didn’t send us here to save the world, or even to save Asia. It is only God who saves. He sent us here to live daily for His glory in front of a lost and fallen people. It’s the same calling we’ve always had; now it’s just on the other side of the ocean.
God asks all of us to go all in—to give everything we have to serve the world around us with the love of Christ. The how and the where look different for every person, for every couple, for every family. For us to go, to do, to be what He intends for each of us, three foundational elements are crucial: faith, family, and friends. Faith is our core; family is our comfort; and our friends are the community through which God allows us to accomplish His work in the world.
Faith is trusting God has a plan and purpose for our family and goes before us and with us. I remember when we first told our children we were leaving the parsonage of our country church in Tennessee to cross the ocean to a place they had never heard of, to a land they had never seen, to tell people they had never met about Jesus. Their first question was “Do we have to?” and their second was “Why?” Have you ever shaken your fist at God and asked Him those questions?
We offered photos of impoverished children, statistics of the lost and dying, and even dangled a little guilt trip here and there. But, in the end, our middle son had it right when he said in his little five-year-old voice, “Cuz God told us to…duh!”
In the end, we have to trust that our Father, Creator, Savior, and Protector has a plan for us that is bigger and better than we can understand. And if He says go, then “Duh…let’s go!”
And when you go, and it gets tough, or you don’t see the glamorous results you anticipated, then fall back on that faith you have in God and His plans. Our family held to 2 Corinthians 9:13 while we were on the field, and even now as we serve stateside. Basically, this passage says other people will give God glory because of our ministry, and our generosity proves our obedience to the gospel. It reminds us of the reason we do what we do.
Family brings the ordinary rhythm of life that provides comfort to our souls. It’s no coincidence that the word familiar shares the same root as family. It’s the place we fall back to when we need to find a place to totally be ourselves. It’s our center. It’s our comfort zone. It’s not the adventure or excitement that we are drawn to in family…it’s the familiar.
It’s the taste of Mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, the sounds of Grandpa whistling, of Little Sister humming. It’s the sight of Daddy reading his Bible, or a family pet waiting for you at the door with tail wagging frantically. Those things welcome you home.
I actually get a little twinge in my stomach as I picture myself standing just inside our huge steel gate with its many locks and latches. Each day, we headed out the door of our home into our courtyard and walked up to that gate; it was the last step before heading out to a strange land where everything was different, unfamiliar.
You look different, sound different, walk different, and even if you wear local clothes, they still know you don’t belong. But you take a deep breath, say a little prayer, and pass through that gate. You spend all your energy and coping skills adjusting and adapting to the culture around you. You battle the weather, the traffic, the language barriers, and the customs. And you do it in the name of Jesus for the sake of the gospel. And it’s worth it—every day.
In the evening, as the sun goes down, you head back down your little street towards home, and you come back to the gate. But this time, you wait until you walk through the gate and lock it behind you to take a little breath and say that prayer of thanks that God has brought you back home.
We must be cautious not to be lulled to sleep from its comfort. The secure foundation we need to take the risk is not an excuse to avoid those risks. Family is basecamp. It’s where you refuel, recharge, and obtain the energy to go back out into the world and do it all over again.
Friends are the community of people God prepares, wherever we are, to be conduits of God’s love and recipients as well. No matter what city or even continent I have been, God has placed special people to walk beside me. Friends who encourage, instruct, comfort, and cherish. The ache of leaving friends behind is soothed by the revelation of another God has waiting for you.
The new friend may be a different race, color, language, or background but is one who understands your heart, is there for your needs, and commits to serve with you as a part of God’s bigger picture.
Alexei was right...it’s not a romantic life we lead. And he would know. He came to my aid when I had a
wreck and hit the police chief’s car. It was outside his gate our van slid on ice, right through our other
neighbor’s fence! It was his wife who gave me medicine for my hand when I burned it on the radiator and for my kids when they had chicken pox. He shares his generator when our electricity goes out—almost daily. It’s his well we pump water from now that our area is without city water.
Together, we take it a day at a time. We rely on His grace. We share His love. And we give Him the glory. We don’t keep a record of all our successes, or an accounting of conversions or baptisms. We just want to share His glory woven through the fabric of our family story.
What is your family story?
Not sure? Follow these steps to figure it out.
List major events in your lives that have been defining for you and your family. Write down God’s hand in those events.
What are four things that define “who” you are as a family?
What do you do to relax?
What is one special holiday tradition you have?
What is a family inside joke you share?
Finish the sentence, “in our family, we always….”
Choose one verse to be a defining verse through which your family is able to filter its decisions, plans, and activities.
Pray God will show you what He has in store for the next chapter in your family story.