A few weeks ago, we sat together in church for the first time since we have been back here to the village. The songs were in Tagalog, the tune was a little different, but everything was so familiar; fellowship. I can never truly express in words what it means to look around a room and see people, friends, that once sat in darkness, with no hope of salvation, now praising their Saviour in song and through prayer. As I look back on our ministry here, I know I have played a very small part in this, and yet being here amongst these dear people and living each day by faith, has played such a huge part in my life. I am so thankful that though I felt so inadequate for the task (still do) that God has continued to lead and strengthen me one day at a time. It truly has been His grace upon grace.
As I shared my testimony on many occasions during our time in N.Ireland, my gratefulness for being involved in missions only grew. As I encouraged others to follow after the Lord’s will for their lives, my own desire to return to, “the uttermost parts of the world” grew, too. I often wondered where we could go after this village? Were there others that still needed to hear? What part could we have in helping other missionaries go to tribes that we will never reach? All these thoughts and prayers for great and glorious things were swirling in my head for weeks, when one night, just 2 weeks before we were to return to the Philippines, I couldn’t sleep. It was very unlike me to waken in the small hours of the morning, but I was wide awake. I made a cup of tea and sat in the living room, suddenly grateful for time alone with the Lord, and feeling the need for much prayer as we prepared to head back, once again, to our ministry here. As I sat praying, Psalm 101 kept coming to my mind, so I turned to it in my Bible. As I read it through, one verse jumped right out at me. Heart pounding, tears flowing, I felt the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking these words in verse two, straight into my heart;
“I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”
Those last 10 words brought much conviction and challenge to my heart. “Philippa, as you go to the opposite side of the world, live wisely, live with integrity, right there in your own home, with the people right under your feet.” It seemed such a strange verse the Lord brought to my heart as I prepared to journey, once again, to the opposite side of the world, and yet, it could not have been more timely. As I lifted my eyes once again to the fields afar off, God enlarged my vision to include my own front yard, times around my kitchen table, endless hours of homeschooling, and those ever precious moments of bedtime stories. The places I love the most, and yet, the very places where I often struggle the most, too.
I relate so well to this quote from Sally Clarkson:
“I always wanted to be a hero – to sacrifice my life in a big way one time – and yet, God has required my sacrifice to be thousands of days, over many years, with one more kiss, one more story, one more meal.”
I hope I can encourage you, that what you do everyday, no matter how much you are appreciated or not; it matters. Not only to the people in your home, but more importantly, to the Lord. Not all of us will be called to bring the message of salvation to the unreached, but each of us can pass this same glorious message along to those within our reach, within our very home. The daily raising of these little loves, growing teenagers and young adults, is one of the hardest and greatest sacrifices we can give as unto the Lord. To live well, with purpose and intention, to honour and glorify our Heavenly Father.
As I sat alone that night in late December, the weight and responsibility fell hard on my shoulders. I realized, in a way I hadn’t before, just how daunting the task seemed. I see my children grow so fast, but are they growing in the knowledge of God’s Word? Are my actions and tone around our home, as I am speaking to their Daddy, or speaking about others, backing up the words we teach at Bible time, or are they confusing and contrary? Is Jesus and His commandments loved and cherished in our home? Is the Word of God a heart language we live out in the smallest moment of our day? Is the message we share with others, the life we share at home?
My heart pounded as I thought it all through. “Lord, I feel so weak, so inadequate, I don’t know if I can do it.” It reminded me of the same heartfelt words I prayed as I struggled with the verses of the Great Commission. I felt so inadequate then, too for the task ahead, and yet, the Lord has been so faithful despite my weakness, each step of the way. It all comes back full circle. For whether the Lord is asking us to go to the uttermost parts of the earth, or whether our world right now is the little lives He has given to us to care for, His will for our lives is the same; devotion to Him through obedience to His Word.
We have been home, here, in the village for a few weeks. My days are a mixture of homeschooling, attending the ladies Bible study, visiting around the village, making tortillas, making beds, and an endless list of other mundane and small tasks. I still pray about where the Lord may lead us someday, and I hope my heart will always be open to go wherever He asks. But, I have a renewed vision for this season God has placed me in today. I am asking Him for wisdom. I am leaning into the promises of God, and hopefully learning, growing and changing along the way, as I seek to walk in obedience and faith. I fail many times a day. I have had to apologise, show grace, (and receive grace) more than ever before, as I homeschool my little loves. But, I am thankful for this stretching time, which draws me back, time and time again, to my constant need of Jesus and His redeeming Grace.
“Your kids don’t need to see you perfect, they need to see you surrendered.”- Unknown
So dear mother; in those hard moments when you step aside to change your tone, to take the silent road, to set down your phone and be fully present, to ask for forgiveness, to rise early to pray, to do the hard thing, time and time again, Jesus sees. So much of our lives in the home go unseen by others, we can start to think it doesn’t matter what we do, what we watch, which music we listen to, or how we act, that it makes no difference anyway. This is a lie. Satan would love Christian mothers to set it all aside, think of our choices as insignificant, and show us an easier road to follow. He doesn’t usually show us the way of sin, but in his deception he leads us along the way of complacency, mediocrity and simply following the crowd. The truth is, God asks us to live with integrity in our homes, and His Word requires our obedience. He knows that the daily sacrifices we make, as we set aside our own desires for His, have eternal consequences; not just in our lives, but in the lives of our children, and maybe even one day, around the world. It is a battle, but a battle worth fighting, one small tender touch, and healing word at a time.
I am so grateful to my mother, who sacrificed her time, her income, and much of her life, so she could (in obedience to her Heavenly Father) pour Jesus into mine. I am sure she never realised as she opened her home in godly hospitality to visiting preachers, missionaries and evangelists, that her only daughter was soaking up a passion for the gospel and bringing the love of Jesus to the lost.
This world is in need of mothers who will reach out, and trust in Christ alone for significance in their lives; mothers whose lives are not buoyed along by the praise of man, or weighed down by the comparison of others, but who daily draw strength from their joy in the Lord. Rather than looking around to others, and what they are doing; let’s look together to Jesus, and what He wants to accomplish through us as we walk in obedience to Him. I don’t write any of this tonight as someone who has attained the right way, or has the right answers (not at all), but as a mother who sees her great need to follow after Jesus, and believes with all her heart that He alone is, “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
Happy Mother’s Day to my dear Mum and friends in N.Ireland. I hope you have a lovely day.
With love from our little house on the hill,
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.