Wednesday, May 23

Playing it Safe

Read Exodus 12-13

Hudson Taylor heard the audible voice of God calling him to China. Despite sickness, poverty and nearly everyone telling him it was impossible, he went to China to serve and preach to the openly hostile Chinese people. Think literal riots. Think rock thrown at his head because his skin was pink. But Hudson knew he was where he was supposed to be. His biography inspired me right up until the part where he got married.

And he took his young wife to China. If a white, Christian man was in constant danger, a woman was even worse off, because women were reviled just because they were women. She went along willingly, knowing the risk. And she had 4, count them, 4 children. In China. In the 1890s. His wife and three of his children died there, of a disease nearly eradicated in England. And he stayed there. Determined to continue God's mission of reaching the innermost, impossible parts of the country with the Good News.

How could God ask that of him? Of his wife? They sacrificed a comfortable home in England. Wasn't that enough? He had to take innocent children so people who had no desire to learn about God could come to know how much he loved them?

Did Hudson Taylor have an obligation to keep his family safe? As a wife and mom, imagining the horrible conditions of turn of the century China, both politically and economically, I can't imagine what this man was thinking.

But he wasn't thinking. He was believing. Believing that God told him to go, and go he must. Believing that God is sovereign. His wife was well aware of what she was signing on  for when she vowed to follow him where ever God would take their family. He had, as our pastor said last week, the image of Christ burned onto his retina. God's agenda was so firmly set in his heart, that the rest flat out didn't matter.

You see, he knew that as long as he served at the center of God's will, nothing would happen to himself or his family outside God's will. He adopted Shadrach, Mesach and Abednigo's line: God is big enough to save us, but if he chooses not to, it's because he has a better plan. (That's my paraphrase).

I don't know about you, but I play it safe. When the opportunity came up to make meals for the homeless in our city, I dismissed it. My kids are too young. It's too dangerous. I can't put my kids in harms way.

Whose kids?

My kids.

Whose kids?

Your kids.

God's kids. God never plays it safe with his kids. He moved Abraham out of his homeland to become a nomad. He sent the Israelites to war--armed with horns and torches. He sent the Israelites to take a city by walking around it. He allowed his very own son, his very own self, to be born in a barn. To really, really poor people. He blinded Saul/Paul to get his attention. Not safe.

I believe he built us with the instinct to protect because he knew that a life devoted to him would never be safe. We need to be willing to take risks with our families, because God asks us to. Risks look different to everyone. For some, it's leaving a good job to stay home with your children. For some its trusting God to determine family size. For some it will be packing up for foreign lands, or preparing our children to serve the least of these, even though they stink and use awful  language and have all sorts of potential baggage.

Here's the thing: God is better qualified to run the protection racket than helicopter parents (those of us who hover nearby with bubble wrap within arms reach). When the Israelites fled Egypt in the middle of the night, I bet it didn't feel all that safe. But the book of Exodus talks about God "keeping vigil" as they left. He detoured them from war before they even made it to the Red Sea dead end. And not only did He part the waters, he set himself, in the form of a giant cloud, between the enemy and His children.

Psalms 91:4 says "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."  

As parents, we must make wise decisions for our families, but sometimes God's way doesn't at first appear wise. It is no wonder every person Hudson Taylor met before he set out told him he was nuts and that he would die in China. But God told him to go, regardless of the cost. Including the cost of his wife and children. And he did die in China. As a very old man. An old man who founded an organization called China Inland Mission, still operating today as OMF International and responsible for sending thousands of believers into places hostile to and ignorant of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

As parents, we see the bigger picture. As God, God sees the biggest picture. Seek his face, especially when his way doesn't seem like the safe way, and you might just find out that He already know that.

At the end of the day, weather your mission is suburbia or darkest Africa, as long as we are in the center of His will, nothing will happen that He hasn't planned for.

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