One eye weeping and one eye laughing

If you have been reading all of our newsletters and emails, you already know a lot of facts about us and our ministry. You also know some things about our family, and about some of our challenges and victories. You know that we are serious about getting the Word of God to people in their own heart language, as well as living the Word of God in the midst of our neighbors, near and far. You already know that we keep using the skills God has blessed us with to support the work of Bible translation and publication.

But what is on our hearts? What does it feel like? There is a fight to faith, but it is good to know we are on the winning side. There is a full range of emotions, rich experiences, profound beauty and joy, and deep darkness and sin to cast out with the light of God’s Word. There is the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. In all of it, God is glorified.

I was talking about our mixed feelings in moving on to our next assignment with a friend who assured me that it is actually good that way. There is an old German proverb about moving with one eye weeping and one eye laughing. One reflects the sadness of saying “good bye” and leaving a place that has become familiar, and one reflects the joy of going on to the next thing. If we weren’t at least a little sad to go, it would reflect poorly on our experience here. Yet if we were not looking forward to our next assignment, that would not be good, either. Although we know for sure that we are supposed to be here now, and we know just as surely that the Lord wants us to move on to the next assignment, our conviction is not about emotions. It is about being sure of the Lord’s leading, and assurance that the best thing to do is to go where He leads.

There is no place on Earth without challenges, dangers, and perils. Also, there is no place on Earth that is totally devoid of at least a residue of the Glory of God. People tend to fear unknown or exotic danger more than familiar and known danger. Yet God has not called us to fear, but to go and spread His Word. So, we go, because we love Him and earnestly desire to please Him.

So, we look forward to our new work doing things we enjoy, and our new place, which actually is a location we have long wanted to go to. We look forward to the blessing of being where the Lord wants us to be. Yet it would be dishonest to tell you that it is not at least a little bit sad to leave so many friends behind in a place where we know we have been used by God to help so many people to believe in Jesus Christ. We can’t even find a good way to measure the impact, because it keeps rippling through entire language groups and cultures. It isn’t just about the teaching and computer work we do, but about being salt and light where we are. It is about crossing cultural barriers, living in and among other people, and becoming a real influence.

Sometimes it is hard for me to explain some of the ways God has made His love known through us. Just yesterday, I had a conversation with a woman who has been through a lot of pain and suffering, and who was fighting hard in frustration about many things, including the death of her son in tribal warfare. In the conversation we had, I felt like she finally really understood, not just in her head, but in her heart, when I spoke of the love of Jesus, forgiveness and forgiving, and repentance. I could sense the peace in her voice toward the end. I don’t think there is any way she would have been open to what I had to say if we hadn’t spent years interacting with her, repeatedly demonstrating God’s Word to her and not just saying it or handing it to her in written form. No, it took standing with her through trials, comforting her in her loss, and showing the tough, persistent, gentle, consistent love of God in practical ways.

We can’t take much from our temporary home here on to our next place, because of budget constraints and the extreme remoteness of where we live. If it doesn’t fit in a 1.3 cubic meter crate for the whole family, or in one 20-kg. suitcase and a 7-kg. carry-on bag per person, it can’t come with us. This is so much of an improvement in our ability to travel light in this world from when we started moving around for the Lord that it is really funny. The pack rat tendencies that were in me have died. That is OK. It is more than OK. It is wonderful, because we are constantly building up treasure that can’t be burnt, lost, rusted, obsoleted, molded, stolen, worn out, or depleted in a place where there is no crime and where we will live with Jesus forever. We get to bring people with us to Heaven to celebrate life and worship the Lord forever. Sounds like an excellent trade, doesn’t it?