I remember the moment I held my daughter in my arms. It was overwhelming to realize I was a mother, personally responsible for this tiny baby. Looking at her, I whispered that we were going to be the best of friends. I shared with her my hopes and dreams of the hours we would spend reading, playing in the park and listening to music. Four years later I once again held another daughter in my arms. How happy I was – two beautiful daughters!
My girls were my world. As a mother, there was nothing I would not do to make them happy. As time passed, my oldest daughter and her husband gave me the joy of being a grandmother. Robert was born and his first year was filled with precious memories watching him beginning to walk and say his first words. One year later a beautiful granddaughter was born. As I walked into the room where my daughter lay holding this new grandchild, my heart skipped a beat when she held the baby out to me and said, “Mother, meet Barbara Rose!” She was named Barbara after me!
In the midst of this joy, my heart was torn. In just a few short weeks I would have the honor of dedicating this little child to God. However, a few days after the dedication I would get on an airplane with my husband and youngest daughter and fly to the other side of the world to serve as a missionary in the Philippines.
Several months before Rebekah had become pregnant with Barbara, God had opened a door for my husband and me to work in the Philippines for a couple of years teaching in a Bible College. At the time I felt everything would be okay because by the time we left Robert would be over a year old and Rebekah and Rob would do fine as new parents with this little boy. While I would miss Robert, I would have had that first year to share and treasure while we were gone. But now my daughter, who had married very young, had not one, but two children less than twelve months apart. She and her husband were both college students.
As I looked at them struggling to keep up with their home, their studies and two little babies, I wondered how can this young couple make it. Holding Barbara Rose on dedication day, my heart ached as I realized I would not be there to see her sit up, take her first steps, and say her first words. When I came back, she and her brother would not know who I was.
Yet, I knew God had called us to go. I thought of the verse in the Bible that speaks of loving God so that in comparison it may seem we hate our family.
Rebekah and Rob went with us in the airport as far as they could go before security barred their way. The last look I had was the two of them standing there, each with a baby in their arms, and the saddest, forlorn look on their faces. I felt my heart would break. I was deserting them when they really needed me.
We settled in the Philippines and while my heart still ached, I became busy in the work and prayed the time would pass fast for them. A couple of months later, we had a call from my daughter. Our little granddaughter was having digestive issues and it looked as if she might have to have surgery. How I longed to go home, but we had just arrived and our budget did not really include money to make a trip home. Rebekah assured me they would be fine and did not need us, but I could hear in her voice the longing for her mother.
Hanging up the phone, I went into my bedroom, laid on the bed and told God how mad I was at Him. I said, “I sold everything I had, gave up my time with my grandchildren to obey You. The least you could do is take care of them. I feel as if I am turning my back on my daughter.”
God did not strike me with lightning for speaking that way. That’s the beauty of a relationship with God. He knows our hearts, He understands our pain and He loves us. I have never understood those who feel we cannot be totally honest with God – as if He does not already know our very thoughts. He understood the love of a mother for her children. He loved me in spite of my hurt and anger.
But quietly I felt that “still small voice” of God speaking to me. He said, “I turned my back on my Son for you.”
For the first time in my life I got a little idea of how much God really loved me when He sent His Son to die on that cross. John 3:16 took on new meaning for me.
And the end of the story – Robert and Barbara quickly developed a love for Grandma and our relationship is very close. God also has given me many more grandchildren and I believe the example we set putting God first in our lives has had a tremendous influence on my children. Putting God first is sometime hard, but always in the end, brings great blessings.