Giving Away Not Giving Up

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done, was seventeen years ago when I waved off my daughter to go and live in Thailand as a missionary.  It had not been too bad when she first shared the news that she and her new husband felt called to Thailand as a ‘short term placement’ supporting a mission project. However as the selection process unfolded they went from becoming ‘short term’ to ‘long term’ applicants. ‘Long term’ meant permanent– the ‘sell-up house, furniture and relocate completely’ kind of commitment.

Inwardly I protested most forcibly to God. ‘That wasn’t what I’d prayed for when I’d asked you to fill her with faith and help her find her vocation! I meant a vocation in THIS country, near me. I didn’t mean take her so far away – permanently’.

I tried to encourage them as they prepared to take such a huge step of faith, but the anger and grief was crippling. I railed at God as they sold up and packed up all worldly goods. Their excitement and trepidation was real, all I could do was outwardly support them but at great emotional cost.

One night shortly before departure day, I was driving to church. The car was a safe space to sob and the stereo was gratifyingly loud as I tried to sing along to drown the grief with a favourite praise and worship CD. One song ended then I listened to the next track. In the middle of the song was a musical interlude with a softly spoken scripture verse I’d not noticed before. A familiar verse in John’s Gospel

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

In that moment I knew God was asking me a question.

‘You say you want all people to discover my love but are you prepared to love the world so much to be willing to give your only daughter, so that those who come to believe in me, through her, may have eternal life?’

That bible verse suddenly became very personal. A massive question. Could I release her to God’s care, knowing he loved her more than I ever could? Could I trust his plans and purposes? Could I allow him to strengthen me if I released her? I knew I had a choice; to resent it and feel bitter, or release her and willingly give her into his care.

The day they flew off was desperately hard. Long after that last good-bye my empty arms continued to ache in a physical remembering of the last hug. Yet I knew I had found a peace that replaced the resentment. The challenge in the car had been a turning point, ‘Yes Lord I trust you enough’. Somehow, despite the loss I began to discover a strength to carry me and bring profound peace…

A year later my daughter and son in law walked through the arrival gate at Heathrow to come home. Not for any ‘failure’ or change of mind, but because she was expecting a baby and needed UK health care because of some initial complications. Those health needs were enough to bring them back and keep them here but with no long-term implications.

A few months later I cradled my newborn grandson utterly overcome with emotion and love and in awe of God’s generosity. Something quite profound had happened; in the process of ‘letting go’ of two people we were blessed to experience three people come back, safely and for good. A wonderful example how so often  what we offer to God eventually brings spiritual and sometimes practical return, seeds sown in faith always bring a harvest!

What was really weird though – that track with John 3:16 embedded in it? I played and replayed that CD and never ever heard that reference again– it was if it was never actually on the disc…

2 thoughts on “Giving Away Not Giving Up”

  1. Thanks for sharing this Bryony. In the excitement of a missionary moving overseas, the family left behind are often overlooked. So it’s really encouraging to read how God was so close to you at that time. And I love the fact that you could never find that verse again on the CD!
    Much love, Sarah

  2. Thank you Sarah,I really appreciate your comment. It’s a huge thing for the senders as for the leavers so be blessed as you support ‘both sides’ in your own work.

    For those heading away feel free to share this site as an ongoing encouragement in their mission, much of Maria’s journey in ‘Raindrops on Roses’ might resonate!

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