We recently hosted a missionary who was in town for a medical missions summit. For almost a week, we began our day chatting over breakfast and juice, talking about about where we’ve been and where we’re going. It was such a joy to have her here and to share and listen.
Lydia has been a missionary for about thirty years. She has lived in several places including Columbia and the mountainous northern region of Pakistan. Right now, she serves in a larger city in the middle east.
She pointed out that, as she has aged, she now has an ability to speak more openly to men – a privilege that she did not have when she was younger. Being an older woman in the culture, she is now viewed as an aunt or a sister. What she has to say is now of more value. This gives her an advantage over younger missionaries. She can communicate with a group of people that someone her junior cannot because it would be culturally taboo.
But she admitted, that, at times she feels tired and wonders if it’s time to leave the mission field …. and come back “home.”
As those words streamed from her mouth, I immediately encouraged her not to do so. I said something along the lines of, “If you feel led to quit when things are going well, you might well consider it. But, if you’re wanting to throw in the towel when you are weary and tired, don’t do it. That’s when the enemy comes against us.” Scripture tells us to call on His name when we are tired, discouraged and weary. It is then that God wants us to ask for his strength and stamina.
As the story is told in Exodus 17, Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms and gave him a rock to sit upon when he became tired. God sends us people to encourage us and help us when we are tired, weary … exhausted.
In thinking about it, I don’t recall a story from the Bible where any man or woman lie on the ground exhausted where God said, ‘Yep. That’s it. Just quit. Give up.” Okay, so He probably wouldn’t say it like THAT, but you know what I mean.
As I was out in the yard this morning, working for my delegated “thirty minutes to an hour a day” self-imposed quota, I began to think about my advice to Lydia.
I’m feeling quite overwhelmed with the complexity of what needs to be done with and for my house.
When I became a single mom, I chose to remain in the marital house with the children. The one thing that counselors and mental health professionals say is most important for the children in a family that is disintegrating is that as many things as possible remain as “normal” as possible.
I love everything about our neighborhood ; neighbors and friends, pool, swim team, sidewalks, elementary school, park(s) and location, location, location. I didn’t want to move. But, more than that, I didn’t feel that I should move. How could an unemployed woman who is a full time student with less than stellar credit find a four bedroom home that will accept two cats and a dog for the same or less than what I am paying for a mortgage?
I had to ask myself: Is there something in that equation that is expendable? The dog? That we’ve had for seven years? That was abandoned when we found her? How ’bout the cat? Smudger was a rescue that we’ve familied for about eight. The most recent addition? Brier? Whom the kids love more than the other two combined? None of the children could easily room together. Could I ask a child to move out? It just didn’t look like a good idea to change any aspect of our living arrangements.
So, that leaves me here, in a home that I absolutely adore … but that needs a great deal of work. There is a great deal that needs to be done. Time and skill/experience are as much of an issue as money.
And so, I thought about my advice to Lydia. And wondered … does it apply to me, as well?
Am I just weary or is God trying to tell me to walk away?
Of course, we are already at a point that we could downsize. Glory will be moving out in less than a week. James has offered to sleep on a couch, if we move to a smaller place. But, that still leaves us with pets … and a deposit … and turning on utilities that require deposits …. and physical move itself …. and upheaval. A different neighborhood would mean a new school for my youngest. It’s exhausting to think about. Besides, I truly deeply desire to be still. And the more it is discussed with my sweet littlest, the more chance she has to come up with one more reason to stay right where we are.
So, I take a deep breath and count windows. I have 218 individual panes to re-glaze. And windows is just a START on all the things that need to be repaired. Yet I know that, like the back yard, if I take it slow and steady working consistently thirty minutes to an hour a day, I can accomplish this goal. I can remain still. I can stay here and we can grow, learn, live and minister in our home … in this neighborhood that we love.
I just have to take my own advice.
So, May I Ask You a Question?
Have you recently found it difficult to take your OWN advice?