Raising a Missionary

Last year, my mom sent me a stack of old letters that my dad had written to her when he was in graduate school in 1980. He had gone to Florida for six weeks, leaving my mom and me in North Carolina. I was shocked to read the following words in a letter that he had written when I was just an infant:

Giving over completely to God I believe means a sacrifice. You don’t sacrifice to God that which is of little value or low esteem. My family—you and Chris—are of very high value to me. In a real sense you are both my sacrifice to God. I believe he’s accepted it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to someday see her tearfully walk up the airplane ramp with her husband to go to the mission field? God may call upon her to sacrifice family time for His work. I want her to be able to respond unhesitatingly to that call.

I couldn't believe it! My father had very specifically predicted my life’s course when I was only four months old! Was he some kind of modern-day prophet?!?

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was not so much a prediction as it was a decision. He had not merely guessed at how my life would turn out. He had determined which way he wanted me to go—the way of sacrifice.

The decision to serve the Lord is not a single one. It’s hundreds of thousands of decisions made habitually over many years. For me, it began with decisions I did not even make myself…going to church every Sunday, reading a Bible story and praying each night, attending a Christian school. These were life-altering decisions that my parents made for me.

But sometimes it’s those seemingly trivial decisions that become very important down the road. I remember countless spankings because of my refusal to speak to adults. Instead of saying, “Oh, she’s just shy. It’s a stage; she’ll get over it,” my parents forced me to be polite. And I am thankful for that training when I greet the first-time visitors each Sunday at our church. I still feel timid inside, but my parents helped me win that battle years ago. I can't help but wonder if I could have ever worked up the nerve on my own to knock on a stranger's door and give them the gospel; I seriously doubt it. My parents trained me to overcome my natural shyness so that it would not hinder me from doing the Lord's work one day.

Doing God’s will is not an “event” our children will encounter one day down the road. It’s today. It’s now. It means I can’t let Claire tell me “No!” It means I make her come when I call. It means I discipline her attitude, not simply her actions. Preparing my daughter for lifetime service to the Lord is an intimidating thought. But, thank the Lord, it’s brought about by one decision at a time, beginning with the “little things.”
2 Responses
  1. Kathy Says:

    Wow! That letter had to be a mind-blowing moment for you! I think part of heaven will be sitting with the saints who wove threads into the tapestry of our lives, and seeing God's plan for us. Tracing those tiny decisions back through generations will thrill us at His love and thoughts for us, more than the grains of sand on the shore!

  2. Ricky Says:


    I find it interesting that I do recall writing letters to you and Kathleen when you were both first born. I did not recall writing those words, however. I think your Granddaddy taught me to always pray for God's will to be done in my life as I made big decisions. What one will do with his life is one of those big ones, and I am so thankful it was an attitude that your Mom and I accepted--even before you were born. Both of our girls have given their lives to God in a sacrificial way.

    Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
    Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.



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