When our eldest daughter Sophie turned eleven, I asked family members and
adult friends to send her birthday cards with growing up advice. Since she
was born on Christmas Eve, people often overlooked her special day. Imagine
her delight as we handed her cards and letters from all over America the
morning of her birthday.
In the stack was a letter from me.
Sophie was struggling with our decision to move from Texas to become church
planters in France. She was afraid she’d look stupid, not knowing French.
She cried about leaving her friends behind. She worried she’d have a hard
time making friends. She wished we could move back to Seattle, our home.
When acquaintances asked her what she thought about moving, she shrugged and walked away. This, of course, broke my heart. I’d lament, what kind of
mother am I that I would take my child away from everything familiar to a
place where I know she’ll be mocked and ridiculed for her faith. We’d
received upsetting emails from team members already on the field detailing
how their eldest (Sophie’s age) was getting tormented and tripped by bullies
I wrestled with Sophie’s grief. I agonized. I remembered Oswald Chamber’s
words: "If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs
us, and that is where the sting comes in . . . We can disobey God if we
choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but we shall be
a grief to our Lord. Whereas if we obey God, he will look after those who
have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience. We have simply to
obey and to leave all consequences with him."
I wanted to please Jesus more than anything, and now with Sophie’s sadness,
I was counting the cost in ways I never imagined. My obedience was costing
Sophie her comfort, her possible persecution, her sense of home. With that
as a backdrop, I tucked this note among the others she received on her
"On this, your eleventh birthday, I want to encourage you to walk in King
David’s shoes. He wanted to erect an altar to the Lord and worship him. He
approached a man about some land. He wanted to buy it to make the altar
there, but the man, Araunah, said David could have the land for free. David
responded this way: ‘No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for
I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing’
(2 Samuel 24:24).
"Sophie, this year as we move away from everything comfortable, you have the
unique opportunity to offer something to God that costs you everything.
Sacrifice is hard. David could have easily taken the land for free and then
offered his sacrifices to God, but then they wouldn't be difficult.
"Sometimes God asks us to do hard things for the sake of his kingdom. You
now have a choice to understand that life is a series of humbling
circumstances. We may not always love where God takes us, and we may not
like it or understand his ways, but eventually, I pray you’ll understand
what a privilege it is He’s given you to offer your whole self to him, no
matter how hard it is or at what cost.
"I urge you therefore, [Sophie], by the mercies of God, ‘to present your
body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your
spiritual service of worship’ (Romans 12:1). May it be that as you grow into
a beautiful, sweet, righteous, happy, content woman, you understand what a
joy it is to follow Jesus, and how very deeply he loves you and longs to
carry you through every difficulty you face."
As mothers we don’t want to see our children suffer. We’d do anything to
prevent it. But, through this time of pain, I’ve been able to see God meet
Sophie where she is. We’ve had hundreds of people pray for her. We’ve had
the joy of watching her change from begrudging our move to France to saying,
"I am looking forward to it."
Sometimes our obedience to Christ costs our children. But God is always big
enough to walk in the midst of their pain, holding them tighter than we can,
and maturing them in ways we couldn't.
Jesus, I want to follow you wherever you lead. I want to have a willing
heart to do whatever it is you have called me to, even if it costs my
children. Help me to understand that you love them infinitely more than I
can. Help me to step into your plan with joy, knowing that you hold my
family in the palm of your hand.
Taken from, Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God, copyright © 2004 by Mary E. DeMuth. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission. Mary and her husband Patrick (ThM, 2004) are church planters in the south of France.