by Shelly Sanders
From the time she was a tiny girl, I knew she wanted to teach children in other countries. We had talked many times about a college major that would allow her to do that. It was Saturday afternoon, and we were in the car traveling to Searcy for Winter Preview, talking about her goals. She has been saying for the last two years she wants to major in Bible and minor in Missions. I have been responding with the usual “parent” arguments: what will you do for a job? How many churches will hire a female youth or family minister? Most churches are cutting back on full time missionaries, how do you know you will be the one chosen for the positions that are available? Honestly, are we really going to commit to $100,000 for your education and at the end of it, we still don’t know that you will have a job? Won’t you just turn out to be like so many others who go to school and marry the guy who will be the minister, or the missionary?
Through all of this, she just smiled and let me fret. “Mom, it’s what I want to do. I believe it’s what God wants me to do. He will take care of me.” Argghhh. How do you argue with that?
So I prayed. “God, you gave me this child. There have been times I didn’t know how I would take care of her. So many times I have wanted to be able to do more for her. Please show me what else I need to teach her. Help me find the words to encourage her to go into one of the other majors we have talked about where her life can have more security. Let her see the direction she needs to go while we are here this weekend.” (You got that whole rewriting the scriptures to say, “Not Thy will, but mine,” right?)
For the rest of the drive and the next two days, we just enjoyed being together. On Monday morning, we went to the parents’ breakfast and listened to the speeches. I watched her absorb all the information with excitement. I could see by the look on her face that all of this was becoming real to her, and she had no fear, only hope and confidence. Just what I had prayed for.
Then we went to the Ministry and Missions building to meet Dr. Monte Cox. I sat back and watched as she had her first college interview. The more she talked, the more excited she got, and I could see what others have seen before. When she is animated about something, she moves her hands just like I do. Her eyes lit up, and her face was glowing. Like Mary, I put these things in my heart to ponder later. As we were leaving, I knew this is where she would be spending the majority of her time. I looked at Dr. Cox and said, “This is my only child. I am entrusting her to you.” He smiled back as though I wasn’t the first mom who had said that to him.
From there, we went to learn about the Study Abroad program. She was so excited about going to Greece, I thought she was going to fly out of the chair and head over there on her own steam. By the time we got to lunch, I felt like I was holding onto a kite that wanted to fly away. She had made her choice, and was so excited about it.
For the first part of the four hour drive home, I tried one more time to convince her to major in one of the other areas that showed promise on her aptitude test: education, psychology, history—basically anything but Bible. All my words were falling on deaf ears. Finally she said the one thing that closed my mouth. “Mom, my whole life I have watched you take risks and go where God wanted you to without knowing where the money was going to come from. We have never been rich, but we have been happy, and God has provided. If you have faith like that, why shouldn’t I?” What do you say when your own child hits you upside the head with that kind of logic?
So as she slept, I prayed. And I listened. This is what I feel God revealed to me in the last two hours of that silent trip. I wanted her to do something secure so she could rely on her degree to get a job. She wanted to answer the cry of her heart and go where she felt God was leading her. I wanted her to use logic and try to control her own destiny. She wanted to fling herself into the arms of something bigger than both of us, and be swept away by a life filled with passion and joy, even if it was hard. I wanted her to trust in things she could see, and she wanted to live a life of faith. A life, she said, she saw in me. I was humbled and proud at the same time. I was being given the chance to give her my blessing—something I wish my parents had given me. I felt God reminding me of the time she was very little and had told me after church she was going to go far, far away to teach babies that Jesus loved them. I thought of all the places she has been and all the things she has already done to prepare her for that. I heard the words of God speaking to Jeremiah about his plans not to harm but to prosper, and I felt peace.
When she woke up, she put her hand in mine and said, “What’s wrong, Mom?”
I said, “I am really proud of you, and your decision to be a Bible major with a minor in Missions. You will love that, and I know God will show you His plan for you. You have my blessing, and my support.” She has been walking on air ever since.
Wed, February 29, 2012
by Shelly Sanders filed under