As a brief reminder, last time I talked about trusting God with our children as we embark on foreign missions as a family and all that will entail. This blog is taking a totally different approach to children and missions, although it is very similar if you think about it. Consider this letter written by Adoniram Judson (missionary to Burma) to his future father-in-law:
“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world? Whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of the perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall resound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”
(Quoted from The Hidden Help Meet: Stand by Your Man by Debi Pearl and Denny Kenaston)
If you were this parent, how would you respond? Ann’s father let her decide, and she went on to suffer alongside Adoniram and eventually die there at the age of 36 as they sought to plant a church in Burma. Was her life a waste? Consider these words from Jim Elliot, a young man whom many of his contemporaries felt he had thrown away so much potential as he served as a missionary in Ecuador and later died a martyr at the age of 28 while attempting to evangelize the Huaorani people during Operation Auca: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
As parents, we must really ask ourselves some very important questions. What is the real purpose in life? Therefore, what is our purpose as parents? What does successful parenting look like, and how do we go about achieving that? Once again as I said last time, do we truly believe in the God of the Bible and are we truly living for Him above all else? Let’s look how we invest our time and our finances, and those will both give us a startling reality check. Also, how are we investing our time with our children? What we truly believe shows up in how we live.
So, what are our goals for our children? Is missions a detestable option and one that we would discourage if our children felt led that direction? Is our true desire for them a life of comfort, health, ease, a good education, a good job, marrying a nice person, having children, living a “happy life”? Let’s all resolve to live with eternity in mind, but also train and love our children with eternity in mind. Let us resolve to want nothing more than for our children to truly KNOW GOD, to be saved by Jesus Christ who alone is worthy of our love and devotion and lives, to enjoy Him forever and serve and enjoy Him in this life with every breath He gives. Are we devoting ourselves to studying the scripture with our children, reading to them about other people who used their lives to serve him (especially missionaries), investing in their walk with the Lord and their character? Or, is our focus on giving them the next best material thing and filling their time primarily with lots of “fun”, temporal activities? Are we giving them what they need and not just what they may want? We need to be asking the same questions of our own lives as well. Am I just living for myself and my comforts, living a “good life”? Am I pouring myself into the eternal? I will end this with a quote from a book that Logan has been reading to us as a family. It has been a challenging and very beneficial use of time, and I highly encourage it:
“How many Christians set their sights on a “Sabbath evening” of life—resting, playing, traveling, and so on—the world’s substitute for heaven, because they do not believe there will be one beyond the grave. The mind-set is that we must reward ourselves in this life for our long years of labor. Eternal rest and joy after death is an irrelevant consideration. What a strange reward for a Christian to set his sights on! Twenty years of leisure while living in the midst of the last days of infinite consequence for millions of unreached people. What a tragic way to finish the last lap before entering the presence of the King who finished his so differently!”
(Quoted from Let the Nations be Glad by John Piper)
As parents, we must help our children to live for more than themselves, but we must all have this mindset until the day the Lord calls us home. I will leave one last quote as I finish. Logan told me of this account of John Paton (from Scotland, coincidentally), who would one day become a missionary to cannibalistic people, and the word he received from his parents as he was criticized by others for leaving a fruitful ministry:
“Heretofore we feared to bias you, but now we must tell you why we praise God for the decision to which you have been led. Your father’s heart was set upon being a Minister, but other claims forced him to give it up. When you were given to them, your father and mother laid you upon the altar their first-born, to be consecrated, if God saw fit, as a Missionary of the Cross; and it has been their constant prayer that you might be prepared, qualified, and led to this very decision; and we pray with all our heart that the Lord may accept your offering, long spare you, and give you many souls from the Heathen World for your hire.”
(Quoted from 21 Servants of Sovereign Joy by John Piper)
For your own eternal good and that of your children and what you’d desire for them, I highly encourage you (and your teens) listen to this sermon by Paul Washer: https://youtu.be/uuabITeO4l8
I hope you can understand the ramblings and passions of this mother for herself and her children, and may we all pour ourselves out for what is eternal and not fleeting trinkets.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-20 ESV