Telling your children two of whom are teenagers that you plan to uproot them and take them to a foreign country is a challenge. We had been counseled to NOT tell them, “Pack your bags we’re leaving,” but instead we should invite them to be a part of the decision making process. Kevin and I jumped on this idea wholeheartedly because we were confident that going to Thailand was exactly what God wanted. Surely God would instill the same confidence in them if they would just listen to Him. Being who I am I thought all I needed to do was train them how to seek God, listen for His voice and all will be well.
In order to do this I came up with a brilliant plan. I would put together a short prayer guide with scripture to read and questions to ponder. All of which would help them identify their fears and concerns but would also show them how obedience to God is worth facing whatever would come our way. On a beautiful summer day Kevin and I planned to take the boys to our family’s favorite park. There we would all spend some time alone listening for God, talk about what God had said, and then spend the rest of the day enjoying some family fun. It sounded so perfect. It was going to be a scene worthy of a Hallmark commercial, but instead it was the day the wheels fell off the bus bound for Thailand.
The day came for the big family prayer retreat and we never made it the park. Shelby was passed out from exhaustion and we could barely get him to crack an eye. Ethan was in a terrible mood and was adamant that, “I don’t want to go anywhere!” Jon was the only one willing to go, but by this time both Kevin and I’s moods were beginning to implode. It was time for Plan B.
Plan B consisted of dropping the bomb shell, “God is calling us to be missionaries in Thailand,” in our living room. Then we sent the boys to their rooms with my helpful prayer guide and told them, “Go listen to God.” Everyone went to their separate corners in a huff and I prayed, “Please God do something!”
God did do something that day but it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted all the boys jumping on the bus to Thailand with joy in their heart. Instead, God just cracked the door. The boys were honest with us. One said, “God may be calling you to Thailand but my mission field is right here.” Another said, “I’m just not going.” One was in tears. It wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for, but it was a healthy place to start. Over the next few weeks Kevin met with each one of the boys on their terms. Conversations were started and hearts began to soften. Now, months and many conversations later, there is an excitement growing in our boy’s hearts. Moving half-way around the world will still be hard but they are looking forward to the adventure of it all.
Telling our boys that God was asking us to move to Thailand was not the Hallmark moment we expected, but God taught us a critical lesson that day. On this journey of faith we can’t control the outcome. There will be days when the wheels fall off and when that happens…all you can do is hang on and trust.