We knew we were going to be empty nesters at a relatively young age. As Susan and I entered our early forties, our two kids, Charity and Aaron, were already legal adults. So Susan and I started making plans to do something cool for God – something extreme in ministry – in the second half of our lives. We started conversations with a handful of missionary agencies doing serious work in different parts of the world. Some ministries spread the gospel in ports of call around the world from ships. Some ministries worked to repair lives in war zones. Some ministries planted churches in countries closed to the spread of Christianity. Those were the kinds of places Susan and I wanted to work.
I spoke about these things over coffee this morning, and Susan just said, without missing a beat, “we think we have our lives so planned out. Here we are thinking we're going to go out into the mission field to serve God. All of a sudden this happens. You realize that you're not in control. Even when you think you’re totally in control, you’re not.”
We were suddenly put in a situation where it is up to us to raise our granddaughter that is the victim of violence. My granddaughter is hurt badly by her father. She’s got brain damage, she’s a quadriplegic, and needs around-the-clock care. There is no one to save the day but us as ill-equipped as we are.
“God had another mission field for us,” Susan says. “I consider this – taking care of Allie, giving our lives to this, and how we do it while people watch – our mission field.
I need Susan’s perspective. I often feel like the Lord has sidelined us. I work at a desk. My hands are getting soft. I can hardly leave the house because caring for Allie is a 24/7 gig. We were willing to go anywhere in the world and do anything, but we are here. I thought the biggest sacrifices we’d make would be giving up our suburban life. It turns out, the biggest sacrifice would be to stay in the suburbs and make sure Allie can have the best life possible.
God knows what He's doing even if we don't.
Our relationship with the Lord has changed through all of this. It's entered a new phase. We could never be in this kind of relationship with God if we hadn't gone through what we've gone through. God has walked through it with us every step of the way. We've bonded through this. I don’t just mean Susan and I have bonded through this. Susan and me, and Jesus have bonded through this. That’s’ what happens when people in relationship with one another go through crisis together.
Our relationship has gone further than it's ever gone before. It's gone further than it's ever needed to go. I need different things from God now; a different kind of wisdom; provision for a different kind of patience than I’ve ever needed. I have to believe Him for bigger things now. I have to pray for things I never would have thought to pray for before. I get to watch Him deliver things I have never seen Him give before. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.