“The Father sent His Son, as Saviour of the world.” (1 John 4:14)
I remember my little ones chanting this verse, rehearsing for the church children’s program. I see them like a home movie played against the warm screen of my memories. Eager, earnest, sweet faces, soft cheeks against mine in a hug as we danced around the kitchen. I used to think, “Pity the person who does not have the hand of a child to hold.”
Today I am sitting in my empty nest, feeling like a part of my innermost being has been wrenched away. Let me start with a disclaimer: I joyfully release my children to the adult future that God calls them into. We raised our children to actually follow God, even into vocations and locations that may not make sense to the world. We intentionally built a global perspective into their lives.
In other words, this is my own fault.
But at this moment I need to give voice to the pain, the cost, of letting our kids go. In the space of 8 months, our 3 sons will get married and our daughter returns to work in Africa. Today’s thoughts are mostly about releasing Katie but it is framed by other losses, blessings and change.
I dropped Katie off yesterday and as I drove away, I was nearly overcome by the powerful sense that this is wrong and I must turn the car around. An inner scream was building which I had not consciously initiated. My whole being, even physically, felt the stretching of a bond not intended to stretch this far. It felt like I was abandoning my child. I forced myself to keep driving, and not to give into the gut wrenching sobs hovering near the surface.
The strange thing is, this is not the first time she is going. You would think I’d get used to this. This is the fourth time she has left for Malawi, and there have been other opportunities that took her far away for months at a time. My sons, too, have travelled far away for school before.
She is going with excitement and joy to a country that is now home to her, to a people that she has grown to love. God has uniquely gifted and equipped her. She is an amazing young woman who has already made a difference in changing the lives of the most vulnerable on the planet. She can’t wait to go back and begin this new chapter.
Her previous terms included many challenges. She experienced serious illness, poisonous snakes in the bedroom, parasites, and relational heartbreak. As a missional mom, releasing her to the joys of her life overseas is ‘simply’ bittersweet. But releasing her to the hazards brings stormy seas to my soul. I am her mom. I am supposed to protect her. The utter helplessness of skyping with her, when she was so sick she could hardly breathe enough to talk, was brutal. It would take 30 hours of travel to get to her. The needs of family members at home, the cost of the ticket and of time off work, all conspired to keep me helplessly on this side of the ocean.
God has 2 words for me in this: I know how you feel, and trust Me. God released His Son to travel to a new home. Jesus loved the nation, the people, the world that was his second home. When I think of Katie moving from a developed nation to the poorest country in the world, this only gives me a glimpse of what Jesus gave up, to come to earth. There were everyday hazards, challenges that He faced, as well as the ultimate suffering and death. God the Father knows how I feel. He is the sending God, who let His Son go. They are on mission together. I feel like proclaiming with God, “This is my beloved daughter, with whom I am well-pleased!” (Matthew 3:16-17)
God invites me to trust Him with her. He loves her even more than I do. He has been preparing her for this mission. The beautiful thing is that God is also using every day of her life to draw her closer to Him, to show her more of His wonderful character, and to make her into the best version of herself. Emmanuel, the God with us, is with me and with her. He holds both of us. This is a bond that cannot be broken.
[To find out more about Katiana’s work in Malawi, go to http://www.isaiahoneseventeen.ca/ ]
A watermark is an image imprinted on important papers or photographs to prevent counterfeiting. You can see a watermark on your passport or on currency. The watermark indicates that these papers are authentic, and in a sense, verify who they belong to. The waters of baptism mark us as children of God. In believer’s baptism, they provide the opportunity for a follower of Jesus to publicly declare the authenticity of their faith. This is who I belong to. This is what I believe. I commit my life to walking with Jesus.
At Woodside, baptisms are a time of celebration as a church family. We listen, spellbound, to the faith stories. We are astounded by how God is working in the life of someone we sit with at church. God is real! We hold our breath with them as they are lowered into the water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We cheer as they come up grinning and crying and hugging their pastor. We celebrate how real life with Jesus brings transformation.
On just such a Sunday, as I left the sanctuary to find the girl who took the plunge, I saw a trail of wet footprints on the carpet of the church foyer. I wonder if there is a trail to follow from my baptism? Do I leave footprints of holy water wherever I go? Is the water of my baptism still dripping on the path of my day? The waters in which I die to myself? The living waters that raise me up, gasping and laughing and grasping at new life – soaked in the Spirit of Christ, washed in the cleansing flood of Jesus’ love. Can you see the direction of my footprints? Am I walking well, in step with the Spirit? Can those around me follow my trail back to the spring of living water? Does my trail take them on detours where they lose their way or lose interest in Jesus, or does it make them thirsty to find Him?
And then I noticed the trail of big splashes of water on the carpet. Messy, irregular, but clearly a trail to the baptistry. Early that morning we realized that no one had thought to fill the tank, and the tap would certainly not run fast enough to fill it in time. These splashes are a testimony to the Bucket Brigade of saints, who rolled up their sleeves and got their Sunday clothes wet, to carry bucket after bucket from the kitchen to the baptismal tank. So it is with the Body of Christ. God graciously uses each of us to prepare the tank, bucket by bucket, for a baptism. A bucketful may feel heavy and cumbersome, and once emptied into the tank, it looks woefully inadequate. But your bucket plus my bucket plus the bucket of the children’s pastor, and eventually the water rises ready to welcome a new member of the Family. We each do a bit, like a link in a chain, dragging our bucket as an act of faith, that God will take my small offering and do something wonderful. Water into wine perhaps? So we heard, in the life-giving stories, how a Bucket Brigade of saints had each poured a bucket of water into the lives of these who once were lost. And we choked back tears and applauded wildly as they rose from the living waters of baptism that morning.
Praise God that He has left his watermark on my life and yours! Welcome to the Family!
It is all about Jesus. All that we are, have and do is about Him. That's the bottom line. Here you will get to read some of the ways Jesus has revealed Himself to us through His word, through the beautiful piece of creation He has entrusted to us, and through our life experiences.
We met in Germany at Bodenseehof, a Capernwray Bible School (http://www.torchbearers.org/centres/Bodenseehof_Germany) and ended up on staff there for several years. Since then we have worked in small and large churches, in lead and associate positions, but also as lay people in everyday jobs in Canada. We have studied, travelled and served in North and South America, Europe, Israel and Africa. We have ministered in international, multi-cultural, and non-denominational contexts. All that to say that God has given us a broad perspective while holding firmly to the foundational truths of the Bible.
We have experienced challenges and richness in marriage and parenting (a girl and 3 boys). You may get to know our family through some of these posts. We laugh and we pray a lot together. Our oldest child is serving as a missionary in Malawi; the others are perched on the edge of the nest about to do back-flips into adulthood. They have all caught the travel bug. We are blessed to see the adventure of experiencing God unfolding in our children's lives.
I hope your visits here are a place where you cross paths with the King. Sit with Him a while and listen for His word to you for this day.
We are a pastoral couple named Stefan & Heidi König. We have many years of experience in various ministries, and are thankful that God has given us this property to use as a way to bless others who need a place to relax and reconnect with Him.
Kingfisher Spiritual Direction
Direct your heart to Jesus and restore your soul. If you need to hear from God, to grow deeper with Him, consider spiritual direction. An ancient discipline of soul care, Heidi is trained to prayerfully lead you in this practice.