This absolutely wrecks me (compels me to stop everything I am doing and simply worship the One who made me):
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
No matter what comes against me, feelings of inadequacy, accusations of sins and past sins, fear, worry, physical illness, weakness, fatigue, sadness, anxiety, I can know that I am loved. Love truly does conquer fear. I am adequate – else I would not be loved. And, in this incredible place of glorious love, in this place of knowing that the God of all Creation calls me his friend, I recognize that I can love others. I can fulfill the one command – to love each other – because I am full of his love.
As we begin the journey of leaving the place we call home once again, I am torn between feelings of excitement and loss. We are leaving so many new and amazing friends. We will once again be several plane rides away from our parents. And we are going into a lifestyle that leaves more questions than answers. We will not have any paychecks or contingency plans in the event of major medical issues, loss of supporters, or catastrophe. We can only place our trust in the One who promises to feed us as He feeds the birds of the air and to clothe us as He clothes the flowers of the field.
We also know what Dorothy learned on her trip to Oz. Although there is much around the corner that looks glamorous from afar, there really is no place like home. So we endeavor to define home as the place where we are as a family. But it is difficult to replace the homes we know in Northwest Arkansas and Enid, Oklahoma. The ones Jesus has given us to love in these places have become “home” to us. And, although we are going over the ocean to a land of rainbows, we know (having done this before) that our hearts will face brokenness. We can only rejoice in the fact that we also know that God doesn’t leave our hearts broken; instead, He expands them and opens them up to even more friends, families, and nations. But that knowledge now doesn’t lessen the impact of the pain we are experiencing now as we pack, say goodbyes, and leave the things with which we have become so familiar.
Interestingly, often we see God telling people to leave places of comfort. Noah had to leave his home to go into the Ark – even before it ever rained; Abraham had to leave his father’s house to go to an unknown place; Joseph was sold into slavery and sent to Egypt and then brought his whole family there; the nation of Israel had to travel through the wilderness to return to the promised land and found themselves often captured and exiled as they grew in their understanding of God; many prophets were called to go to areas far away from their homes; Jesus travelled away from Nazareth and seemed unaccepted in his home country; and nearly all of the first disciples were pushed from Jerusalem to places all over the world. Jesus even tells us to go and teach his commands – “love each other” – to all the nations of the earth. Through all of this we see God’s followers grow, strengthen, and learn to live love.
We hope we can honestly cry out from our hearts like David did –
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
Given those patterns and truths throughout Scripture and understanding we can do nothing apart from God, we will go. Yet our hearts are torn. We covet your prayers, words of encouragement, and hope you will remain in touch with us. We will value every email, letter, phone call, and prayer you lift us. We need you to be Jesus in our lives.
Thank you for your love.