When I was a little girl I dreamed of being a missionary. I wanted to be a missionary doctor. Then I wanted to be a missionary teacher. Then I wanted to be a missionary’s wife.
And then I grew up.
After graduating from college, I was a missionary of sorts on the University of Minnesota campus working full time with college women for several years. I was able to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, disciple a few dear girls, write monthly newsletters to an amazing group of financial supporters, and learn more of what it means to trust God in the dark.
It was in this role that I met my future husband, who was also on staff in full time college ministry. We married, continued to minister for a few more years, and then eventually transitioned to the average American life in the burbs.
I felt like I had let God down.
My life wouldn’t count for all that much. Just a housewife and mom. Seemed like it had the real makings for a WASTED life. I was a bit of a romantic dreamer, and the daily in and out of wiping noses, floors, counters and bottoms didn’t feel very visionary or significant compared to sharing Christ in dark corners of the world where nobody had ever heard His name before.
How I LONGED to make a difference in the world.
Over the years God has been gracious to give me a multi-generational vision for our family line that may one day (I’m praying!) include many missionarys to foreign lands. And there is always the possibility that I may still have the privilege of serving in that way some day.
Several years ago I discovered the beautiful writings of Elizabeth Prentiss. One of my favorite books that she wrote is called Urbane and His Friends. There is so much richness in this book…but here is a little excerpt that reminds me of what God had to teach me regarding my desire to be a missionary.
In this excerpt, Helvia dreams of serving the Lord overseas as a missionary, yet she is Providentially hindered by the physical needs of her aging father.
She fell back, now, into the quiet routine of domestic and social life, and, to the ordinary eye, appeared to be little more than a good daughter and pleasant friend. But every day she was growing stronger in the Lord and in the power of His might. Certain sharp features of her very fine character disappeared, and gentler graces shone out. Urbane never had had such comfort in her as now.
But she never went to India. She used to say, playfully, years later, that she had too many Hindoos of her own to go to foreign lands to look for work. And these Hindoos cost her a great deal, and taught her a great deal; and in training them, and enduring all the suffering and self-denial incident to bearing and educating a household of children, she learned lessons that sank deeply into her thoughtful mind.
She was not herself permitted to win the thousands of souls she had longed for, but through her sons she won them. It is enough for a woman to be a Christian, a wife, and a mother; in each sphere she may glorify her Lord and Master, and if perfect in these relations, she is just as dear to Him as her more accomplished, apparently more favored sister.
It is the duty and the high privilege of some women to stand almost, if not quite, on the walls of Zion; but she who is not called to such eminence, should not, therefore, despise her own modest task.
God bless mothers, especially young mothers, who are in the thick of the affray. They are ashamed to rank their daily difficulties, disappointments, fatigues, and responsibilities where they ought to rank, or carry these trivial details to Christ.
But that which helps to form character is not trivial in His sight, and these innumerable battle-fields are under His loving charge.
Oh Sisters, may God richly bless the sphere of your homes, and may He use you mightily to raise up many generations of men and women who will proclaim the Name of the King in all the nations of the world!