My baby boy has a stomach virus today. He is almost sixteen and is a head taller than me. But he is still, and always will be, my baby. We were up most of the night together, me feeling helpless while he lay in the bathroom floor in misery. Now and then he would call out to me, wanting a drink of water or a cool wet towel. Now he is resting, so of course I am writing.
I’m at my desk now, but I’ve kept the house quiet, listening in case he calls out to me. Waiting and ready for whatever he needs. Several times, he has roused up from sleep and called to me. Each time, I drop what I am doing and say “Here I am. What do you need?”
It wasn’t long before God began to talk to me and use the situation as a parable for me. I have a lot of those “Parenting Parables.” God knows my dense and stubborn self all too well. He knows how to talk to me. And often, he uses situations with my children, knowing they are so close to my heart and soul. Knowing my love for the them may be the closest I ever get here on earth to understanding His love for me.
I am leaving on my first foreign Mission Trip in two weeks. Traveling to a third world country to help fill the most basic need we human beings have: food. Both for physical hunger and spiritual hunger. Rice and beans to nourish the body. Scripture to nourish the soul. It will be a life changing experience for me. Out of my middle class American comfort zone. Everything there will be different. Different language, different culture, different temperature, different way to dress and act. Different style of worship. Only one thing will be familiar. The most important thing of all. My God will be the same. Whether I am at my kitchen table in hills of Arkansas or in the poorest part of Nicaragua. He will pave my way. Guide and protect me. He will be my tour guide, my body guard, my inspiration and my interpreter.
I am getting more excited each day. There is a part of my soul that has been preparing for this trip, and possibly others to come, for many years without even knowing it. There is a part of my heart that feels this is really the beginning of something very important. I am praying hard, packing carefully and counting the days till I board the plane.
I almost said no to this opportunity. It was last minute. Someone had to drop out due to health. I got the call to go. My first reaction was to let Satan answer my phone and say “wrong number.” Not me. I had no vacation time at work. No money. No training. Not enough time to prepare. I don’t know people who do these things. My church sends money. I read books about people who go. I study scripture about the disciples who went. I enjoy the slideshows about modern missionaries. I tape their names on my fridge. I give extra during the Mission drives at Christmas and Easter. I do my part. No thank you. I’ll stay here at home where it is warm and safe and familiar. I’m a sinner. Not a Missionary. God will understand. Only He didn’t.
My second reaction to the call was to grab my Bible and search. I looked for any place where God would confirm my “no.” I looked for where He says it’s okay to stay home and pray. I looked for where He says He understands that I don’t like rice and beans. I looked for the verses where He says he wants me to be comfortable, to stay in my own house, in my community, in my familiar home church and watch the Missionary slideshows on Sunday nights.
I looked and looked and looked. I couldn’t find those verses. I was sure they were there, because I’ve been living by them for years. But I couldn’t find one single verse where God says “stay.” Instead I found “go, go, go.” He even chose those as his very last earthly words. Go! Go! Go! To the remotest parts of the earth. To wherever we are called, to whatever chance we are offered. To the places that are hot and cold. Dirty and hungry. Hungry for physical food. And more importantly, for spiritual food. The kind that lasts forever. I have it. They need it. So I am going to go and give. I am going to share. I am going to say yes to the chance.
I am scared. Not of something physically happening to harm me. Not of death or disease. I am scared I will fail to do enough, to say the right things, to make the most of this opportunity. I am scared I will mess up and let God down. But I will go and I will trust. Because He told me to.
And because, just like when my son calls out to me…I should be willing, waiting and ready to answer God the same way. “Here I am. What do you need?”