And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
…and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
Luke 2:33-35; 51 (NASB)
But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.
John 19:25-27 (NASB)
In Christian circles, when we talk about God’s calling in our lives, we speak boldly about how God has called us to the corners of the earth, where no Christian has gone before! We are so eager, so excited to serve, that we can talk of nothing else. And sacrifice? We’ll gladly sacrifice for the sake of Jesus. After all, He sacrificed His life for us—why wouldn’t we give up a secure job or Western culture or a love life? Our sacrifice is so insignificant to His.
And all of this is good and holy and I don’t write these things to belittle my fellow Christians or God’s sovereignty or Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s just that I’ve grown up in a culture that has held such callings in high esteem but there is little recognition of the sacrifices made by those who are affected by our choice to leave and to follow.
So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him. He left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” So he returned from following him, and took the pair of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the implements of the oxen, and gave it to the people and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him.
1 Kings 19:19-21 (NASB)
Towards the end of the summer, I realized that God was calling me to something huge, and I was very excited because for the first time I felt like I had a true purpose.
But I was terrified to tell my family. Which is rather ridiculous because my family is used to this. Christian ministry is what we do—my childhood was soaked in it.
I went to see one set of grandparents and then the other to tell them in person what I was planning. And it was hard—I could see it on their faces—but the four of them were all so encouraging and so supportive. And they’ve continued to be so, even after a rather rough four months for my family.
But my heart breaks over them.
They’ve shared their pain with me, their loneliness. We praise the one who sets out in the Lord’s name and yet we don’t think to rally around the ones they leave behind.
2015 has proven to be a difficult year for my family. And yet every time I feel overwhelmed for them, they speak up and encourage me. They destroy any thought of doubt or guilt over what I am doing with my life. I am so humbled by their faith and by their strength at letting me go.
For a while now I’ve been mulling over the Biblical accounts of Good Friday, specifically John 19:25-26. I find it so encouraging that here, on the cross and in His final moments, Jesus takes the time to care for His mother one last time.
When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”
He takes time out from dying to ensure that she will be okay. There are many things said about this passage: Jesus is sparing his mother added heartache (1). Jesus is making a legal contract, addressing his mother with respect but distance, and in the presence of witnesses, as He passes His role as the firstborn son to another (2).
And that Jesus shows how we as the Church and body of Christ are supposed to act: to care for each other as a family (3).
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families.
Psalm 68:5-6 (NIV)
I am so humbled and overwhelmed by the calling God has given me, and I know that He in His infinite wisdom and in sovereignty will care for the family that I leave behind as I follow Him.
But that doesn’t stop the ache in my heart for them. Rather, it makes me fall on my knees and pray. To pray that someone, someones, would remember my family.