Book: On a Wing and a Prayer

Right now the girls and I are reading about the missionary, Nate Saint, as part of their homeschool curriculum this year. We just finished reading a book on Cameron Townsend the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators. If you’re wondering, I order their books through My Fathers World and have been so pleased the last two years with their materials.

Reading about these early missionaries has been so refreshing for my faith. Their courage, strength, faithfulness and perseverance is astounding. Honestly it puts my modern day American mindset to shame. But I am grateful for these stories for both me and my children. We are learning so much about what it means to really give your life to Christ no matter the cost.

In a recent chapter we read about Nate reconstructing airplane wings in his small adobe home in Tuxtla, Mexico. He becomes very ill and is confined to his bed, alone, with no way to contact anyone for aid. The answer to his prayers for help come through a complete stranger. Phil Baer, a missionary, had only heard about some American man building airplane wings in his home and out of curiosity went to see it for himself. He found a very sick Nate and a very dirty home. He immediately takes responsibility for Nate, nursing him back to health and hand washing all his dirty laundry. This astounded me. It’s so simple and yet so amazingly selfless. They are strangers to each other! But they share the same mission, the Great Commission. We are even told Phil had a wife and new baby that he spent weeks away from while he helped Nate. And I suspect his wife wasn’t griping and complaining for him to return home. Sure, she probably longed for him to be back with them but I’m fairly confident she was just as willing to sacrifice for the sake of Christ and spreading the gospel. It’s so incredible! The people we are reading about are so sacrificial. They are willing to give up things that we hold so tightly to. Things like family, homes, jobs, comforts, conveniences, safety! Why? Because they BELIEVE Gods Word. They don’t just quote Philippians 3:8 they live it out, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” And so others can gain Christ as well. They don’t just come into relationship with Christ and keep Him to themselves, they HAVE to share this amazing Good News with the unreached. They have counted the cost and come to the conclusion that knowing Jesus and making Him famous to the ends of the earth is worth whatever.it.takes.

And I find myself asking the question….. Have we come to that same conclusion?

On counting the cost and expendability

I’ve been working on this post for a few weeks now. Today we read another chapter out of “A Wing and a Prayer” and I have to include a little from it. Nate Saint was a pilot for MAF, Missionary Aviation Fellowship. In today’s chapter he is in an airplane accident and survives with a badly broken back. Meanwhile, he misses the birth of his first child because he was in a hospital in Panama and his wife was too far along in pregnancy to travel with him. He’s about to be interviewed on Christian radio.

“During his many days in the hospital, Nate had been thinking about the idea of ‘expendability,’ and that was the subject of his radio talk…….. Nate used the term to mean that Christians need to offer themselves to be used up by God however He wishes to use them.”

He nearly died in a plane crash, missed his first child’s entrance into the world, was in a cast for 5 months and still could not wait to get back in a plane to serve missionaries and the unreached people groups of Ecuador.

Lately, the Lord has been teaching our family a lot about “counting the cost” (See Luke 14:28-33) and our commitment to Him and what He calls us to. Oh how we are in a perpetual state of learning…. And re-learning. 😉 As Christians we are representatives of Christ, ambassadors. (2 Corinthians 5:20) So this means everything we do reflects Him. Our choices can reflect him well or poorly. They can show great trust in Christ and strength through the power of His Spirit. They can show devotion to Him and the things he cares about. Or our choices can show a distrust in God and a lack of devotion to him. They can suggest he lacks power or that we don’t really believe what he tells us in his Word. It’s easy to quote, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” But admittedly, that’s easier to apply to running a marathon than let’s say, loving hard to love people or responding joyfully to the daily challenges of life. Over the last month our experience with fostering became,…. more complicated. I won’t be disclosing any details here and now. We still have our two little guys and they are doing great in our home. But, as I’m learning more every day, foster care is complex and messy. Our situation is not abnormal but that doesn’t make it any less difficult or overwhelming at points. And there have been moments where we have wondered (again) are we supposed to be doing this? Is this right for our family? Is this risking our children’s safety and wellbeing? Can we effectively serve a broken “system”? Is this worth it? I’ll be honest, we have been able to come up with plenty of reasons for why we could stop and why it would be “okay” and we would have lots of people support us if we decided to walk away from this. But for every reason to quit, God has given us reason to persevere. For every fear or concern, God has given us confidence that it is worth it.

Our reputation could be at stake.

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me.” Matthew‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭

It’s too risky. Aren’t we supposed to protect our family first?

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew‬ ‭10:39‬

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God]– he cannot be My disciple.” Luke ‭14:26‬ ‭AMP‬‬

The system is too broken. It’s not helping the families as it should.

“Tell all the nations, “The LORD reigns!” The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. He will judge all peoples fairly.” Psalms‬ ‭96:10‬ ‭

“For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone…….Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?” Lamentations‬ ‭3:31-33, 37‬ ‭

“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” Psalm‬ ‭103:6‬

The thing is life is hard. Maintaining commitments is hard. But just because it gets difficult (or sometimes illogical) that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing it. For those of us who call ourselves Christians we actually are told to expect hardship and opposition and then we are given promise after promise of what our clinging to Christ and perseverance will produce.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews‬ ‭10:35-39‬

In a country where prosperity abounds and comfort is king, we have a tendency to run from difficulty. We view a lot of life’s challenges as strictly negative and when the going gets tough we can easily justify throwing in the towel with a squad of well meaning cheerleaders affirming our decision, regardless of the commitment we once made and its implications. I don’t know what you are considering giving up on. I know Satan certainly wants us to give up on the things God calls us to. And while sometimes God may have us step away from something, we have to ask ourselves, “What will give God the most glory?”

And again, on being “expendable for God” in the words of Nate Saint, “Isn’t the price small in the light of God’s infinite love?”

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by Godʼs power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter‬ ‭1:3-9‬

The “worth it” moments 

Because I want to remember this stuff.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to any one that home schooling can be hard. The logistics of getting school done is exhausting in itself. I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it again, I’m not Wonder Woman. Some days we have what seems like a hundred interruptions, other days I’m freaking out over math facts, and probably once a month I have to (or Jason does) remind myself why we are choosing to homeschool our children. It’s easy to feel defeated or get sucked into the comparison trap. And at just the right time, God always seems to give me that “worth it” moment. Like today….. Just sittin on a hay bale, no big deal. (By the way, those hay bales are the evidence of our first horse coming soon! Eeeee!!!)

We are learning about countries and cultures. The girls were given passports and currency and have decided to “visit” each new place. They have chosen a spot on our property to geographically represent each country. I love how imaginative they are. Packing suitcases, going to the airport,….. I hear them pretending it all. This week they’ve traveled to Brazil.

Micaila remembered to pack good reading material. A book about Cameron Townsend, the missionary who founded Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Some days homeschooling is hard. And it is a sacrifice. But I’m so incredibly thankful to God to get to be here alongside my children as they learn, struggle, grow, pretend, play, mess up, forgive, mature, and repeat over and over. And while I enjoy the little “worth it” moments, they also serve as a reminder that God is good in all the moments, even if I may not be seeing it or feeling it at the time.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭28:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Too big for me……

When the boys first came to us it felt a little crazy taking in two babies. After all, our original plan was to just provide respite for other foster families. After turning down three calls for other placements, when we were called about the boys, we couldn’t say no again. Almost exactly one year apart to the day, baby K barely cresting the one year mark and baby J barely out of the womb, I knew this would alter everything about our life. I mean taking in any child alters your life. After two months we are still figuring out a lot and trying to roll with a very inconsistent new normal. No day is the same. Outside of bedtime there is little that I can bank on going as planned. And this week we stuck our feet back into another year of homeschooling. Well if I thought I was crazy before I surely do now. To be honest I don’t really know how we’re going to do this. But as I was reading through the curriculum, organizing folders, preparing myself for our first day, and now having almost completed our first week, I am confident this is the right thing for our family and I trust God is going to make provision for us.

God does this some times ya know? He brings us to places and seasons where we think, “This is just crazy.” We might even be wondering if we need to step back from something or remove something from our plate. And sometimes we should. But other times I believe God brings us to these places where it’s so crazy that only He can get the glory.

Jon Bloom writes in his book Don’t Follow Your Heart, “When God chooses his servants, he tends to give them an oversized workload. Yes, God works for those who wait for him (Isa. 64:4), but you’ll note that waiting on God is rarely experienced as a leisure activity. It typically involves being placed in an overwhelming situation that requires a steeling of the nerves of faith to wait. Yes, we are to serve in the strength that God supplies (1 Pet. 4:11), but that serving can still push us beyond what we think we can handle to show that it’s God’s gracious supply, not our own strength, that is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9) and to show that we hope in the God who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:8–9).”

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬‬‬

I don’t “do it all” and I definitely do not have it all together. If I ever appear to be any of those things I can assure you it is NOT me and what you are witnessing is the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit. I AM weak. I can’t do this apart from Jesus. I have tried and it’s an ugly hot mess. “I need Thee every hour.” So I hope that whenever we or anyone sees the fruit of our labor that it would be so obvious that it is ALL the work of Christ through us. He gets all the glory. And on the days I become overwhelmed and wonder again, “Can I do this?” (Because for this melancholy those days will, no doubt, crop up) I pray I would look to my Shepherd and say as David did, “He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” Psalms‬ ‭23:3‬