Recently, I have been working to teach my daughter and son how to ride a bike. My daughter, who jumps into everything with both feet, took to it like a duck to water. It took very little time and she was off on her own zooming around on her bike. My son, who is very analytic and thinks about all possible outcomes, was more difficult. He took much longer because he was afraid that he would crash into something or fall off. Many times he would try and jump off the bike when it was still going which placed him in a much more dangerous position than just sitting and riding the bike. The one statement that I said to him numerous times was, “don’t be controlled by fear!”
I can see myself in the various personality traits of my children. I, like my daughter, tend to jump on an opportunity when I see it. I have traveled to China, Thailand, India, and Europe as an ESL teacher. I never knew my mother tongue would afford opportunities to travel the world and meet people. It’s only when we take the opportunity that is available that we can ever learn and grow. In each of these trips God has made me more of a student than a teacher.
One of the major things He has taught me, is to expect the unexpected. This is a life lesson that goes beyond mission trips. God has granted me the privilege to work overseas as a teacher, marry an artist, help raise three children, and work in the aviation industry as a person who is responsible for thousands of lives each day. Each of these experiences has taught me that complete control is an illusion. It may seem like you are in control in life but there are always circumstances that take things out of your hands and put them in Gods. In almost all of my mission experiences God has put me in a situation where I am doing something that I did not come prepared to do. Sometimes the greatest experiences were the things I was the least comfortable with doing. I have been able to be involved with witnessing to people who didn’t speak the same language, play soccer with orphans who didn’t have any shoes, and have conversations with people who only barely spoke English. Be ready to take risks. Be ready to be out of your comfort zone.
The biggest lesson God has taught me through the years is it’s not about you, it’s about relationships. One of my biggest struggles is learning followership. In my job it’s very important to take control of a situation and fix anything that needs fixing. Unfortunately this isn’t usually very helpful towards creating healthy relationships. People want to be heard and valued, they don’t need someone to come in and “fix” them. Some of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had are when I just spent time with a person. This is especially valuable to the missionary partners who are there for the long term. I’ve found spending time with their children and their families gives them a much needed taste of home. After living overseas by myself for over a year I remember how much just a little taste of home can mean. Be ready to sing with fellow Christians in their heart language. Be ready to be a follower. Be ready to love.
So what happened with my son and his bike? He finally got the hang of it. This accomplishment has given him so much confidence. I see a very different boy now. One who was timid and scared is now bolder and ready to try new things. He asks me multiple times every day if we can go ride bikes. He loves riding bikes. During a recent sermon our pastor mentioned I John 4:18, there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. Fear keeps us from accomplishing goals. It keeps us from growing. Our love of God and others should be the reason we boldly go into situations that we don’t control. Christ did not request we go into all the world, He commanded it.