“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, follow her on Instagram @katesmagoo. She also occasionally shares on http://www.isaiahoneseventeen.ca/ ]
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.