In the past three days we have made our first move of this next season. The home in west Tulsa that we enjoyed for the past four years is now empty, save a few items that remain behind awaiting a Salvation Army truck's acceptance. We're temporarily living in a missionary home in Tulsa while preparing to move overseas.
The move was difficult for me. I grew up in Tulsa and certainly think of it as home. Though we're only a few miles from our previous house, the reality of leaving this place hits me in a more certain way now. Many of our items we simply discarded, others we donated. I believe the Goodwill donation center staff have grown concerned about our frequent visits. Some things are still waiting to be picked up as I mentioned. But this move feels different than others because for the first time we had to take down hand-made decorations hung by our children, give away some of their belongings or throw them away, and bid farewell to the four walls that have sheltered and shaped our young family.
As I took nails out of the walls at the old house yesterday, tears came while memories of Christmases, Thanksgivings, Birthday parties or just the daily fun and games of life replayed in my head. We have known for a while that God called us overseas, but the actual parting is more challenging than I anticipated.
I've recently started reading David Platt's book Radical. I'm only through the first chapter or so, but I'm realizing that when Jesus calls to us, it is exactly a complete abandonment that he expects. In Mark chapter 10 a successful, affluent and influential young man approaches Jesus and asks him what he should do to inherit eternal life. At first, Jesus replies with a simple list of "do this" or "don't do this". But the young man already follows that. So why did he come to Jesus in the first place? If doing the right things were enough, shouldn't he have already felt fulfilled? Why would he seek him out? Jesus sees that this young man has followed the right "rules" but still isn't fulfilled or secure ... and verse 21 says that Jesus looked at him, loved him, and told him to give away his things, take up a cross and follow Him.
That cost pushed many people away from him. When he called fishermen from their boats or a tax collector, did they come to Him skipping and singing a merry tune whilst leaving their lives and their families? There's nothing that I see in scripture that says they didn't lay awake at night, tears in their eyes, missing their old familiar things and places. But in John chapter six, when Jesus challenges them severely and asks if they wouldn't rather go back to their comfort zones, Peter replies, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." Something about Him made their sacrifice worthwhile.
I pray that as my family leaves our familiar places, familiar things and friends and loved ones we would anticipate receiving a new kind of fulfillment.
We need your prayers more now. Our visa applications (a process we began in May) is being hampered and is threatening to delay our departure. We made our move in faith that God will provide for us to go to the field this Fall and trust that He is working in His timing. However, we need a miracle to avoid ending up in a difficult situation if we are delayed. Pray for favor with authorities, efficiency in processing paperwork and for granted visas so that we can buy our tickets to PNG.
We are grateful to those who have joined us in this process. Your gifts toward our ministry are preparing our home in Papua New Guinea, paying some processing fees and have reassured both us and our receiving mission that this is for real! Soon, those funds will buy plane tickets for four passengers to Kudjip hospital and provide for healing and our ministry there.