Battle in the Sanctuary

It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?  How can a person have a “battle” in a “sanctuary” which by its very definition should be a place of refuge or shelter?  Yet there I sat this past Sunday in our sanctuary and it took every ounce of self-control that I had not to stand up and bolt down the aisle and out the door.

I guess my first mistake was not paying better attention to the sermon topic listed in the bulletin.  My second mistake was sitting in my usual spot, right in the front.  I had adopted that habit several years ago in an attempt to stay awake during the sermons.  For some reason, I had gone through a period of about a year where I’d fall asleep almost as soon as our preacher started preaching.  It was embarrassing and frustrating.  For awhile I had snuck up into the balcony which was technically closed during the early service because, with just a few other “rebels” up there, I could take my coffee mug with me and chug caffeine if I felt myself starting to nod off.  When even that failed to work, I decided that perhaps the best approach would be to sit myself right up front, under the direct gaze of the pastor.  Surely the thought of nodding off right in front of the man would be enough to keep my eyes open.  Most of the time, it worked.  I had gotten used to sitting in that pew so that’s why I was way up front Sunday.

We had a guest speaker and I knew I was in trouble the minute he introduced himself and his topic.  He was a missionary and would be speaking on world missions.  It’s not an easy topic for me because I have a child who is far from home in this calling.  It’s a touchy topic with me because even though I know it is a good thing that he is doing, there are many days when I wish it was someone else that was doing it.  I miss him and his family and I hate the fact that they are so far away.  And that’s the honest truth.

Our guest speaker hadn’t gotten any farther than his introduction before I was already scrambling to build a wall around myself and strapping on my armor.  He had armed my defenses when he said that his first missions assignment had lasted twenty-five years on the other side of the globe.  He’d taken his family there and raised his children there.  Twenty-five years!  I was trying to cope with the thought of having my family away for three years and hoping mightily that at the end of that time, they’d at least come back to our continent.  I didn’t want to hear someone talking about keeping themselves and their children away for twenty-five years.

I sat there glaring at him for the rest of his talk.  I’d heard it all before.  I knew all the key missions verses…….the “harvest”, the “workers”, the whole shebang.  I just wasn’t feeling particularly charitable yesterday.  I was feeling lonely.

When the service ended, I hightailed it out of there and went off to my Sunday School class.  One of my good friends came into the classroom and I confided to her how hard it had been for me to sit through the morning’s sermon and why.

“When your son was born, didn’t you dedicate him to the Lord?” she asked.

“Of course,” I replied.

“Well then, you know that you need to let him go and do God’s work,” she continued.

“Look, I know all that, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  I just find myself sometimes looking around the church at families sitting together and wishing that God had taken someone else’s child to go to the mission field.  Why did it have to be mine?” I answered.

“You just have to accept the fact that he’s doing a good thing and let him go,” she went on.

“That’s easy for you to say,” I lashed out.  “Your son is just an hour down the road and you can see your grandchild any time you want.”

I felt ashamed as soon as I said that but part of me wanted to hurt her, to make her feel part of my pain.  Stupid and childish, I know.  But that’s life sometimes, as a missionary’s parent.  People forget that we weren’t born saints or that we didn’t receive the “call.”  A lot of us have struggled to accept our child’s vocation and all it entails, even though we know that it is a worthy and good thing.  Like Abraham, I keep hoping that a sacrificial lamb will show up and take my son’s place so I can hustle him back down the mountain and on home.

For now, the battle continues and many days, I’m my own worst enemy.  But where I am weak, there He is strong.  That’s the promise, right?

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Hot Flashed Funk

  • Oh, Dee. This reminds me of the time at a missions dinner, when our daughter and her husband were preparing to go to the field, that a friend approached me during dessert and said, “OH, you must be SO proud.”

    Proud? Sure, I was proud. But right then, I was more sad than anything else. For a moment, I thought that more than anything else I would like to punch my friend!

    I’m glad you were honest with your friend about your feelings. Someone has advised that POMs need to keep looking for the friends who acknowledge they DON’T understand AND who are willing to try.

    Blessings, friend.


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