In Asia there is a very strong concept of ‘face’. The outward appearance, what is publicly visible. It’s like when you get up in the morning, you put on a scorecard that everyone can see. People are very concerned about what this scorecard shows. There’s many layers and aspects to this. Yes we have the concept of face in the western culture as well but not as strong and perhaps not so consciously as it is in Asia.
The temptation for most who serve in missions is to always focus on the positive. Only share victories, whether big or small. Keep it light, keep it bright. Only share of your challenges AFTER they’ve been overcome. Don’t show vulnerability. Don’t show weakness. Don’t give any possibility of losing face.
This morning I want act in a measure of vulnerability. Yes I experience many blessings, day by day. I have countless things to be thankful for. And I am thankful! But I also face challenges, including ones that have not been overcome.
Last night my Grandfather, Grady H Cornett Jr, passed away at over 90 years old. I’m given to understand that he was very heavily medicated for pain as his body rapidly deteriorated and shut down.
I wish I had been there. To introduce him to his second great-grandchild before he passed away. To say goodbye. To commit his soul to God. To witness his passing. But I wasn’t.
This is the side of overseas missionaries that doesn’t get shared. Though we rarely see them, family is just as important to us. Yet we often miss most of the important events. Weddings. Funerals. Births. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Picnics. Reunions.
I wish I knew my Grandpa Cornett better. I wish I knew more of his story, his life. I wish I were there as he finished his walk on earth. I wish I were there to share in the grief with my mother, my sister, my aunts & uncle, my cousins, and with my grandma Cornett. By time I heard the news it was expected that he wouldn’t last more than a week, two at the most. A day or so later while I was still looking to see if there was any way to change our travel plans, he had passed on.
One of the reasons this weighs so heavily is that I also missed my Grandpa Busch’s passing on. This was many years ago while I was in Europe.
Honestly, events like this feel like failures on my part. Not only do I feel that I should be there but I feel like I have obligations to my family. And who’s to say that I don’t?
There are many many joys in serving the Lord overseas. And I am thankful, not resentful, of the call that God gave me so many years ago. There are also challenges and heartbreaks.
My hope is that which should be common to all believers: that one day I shall be with my Lord in Heaven. His grace, His love, and His presence will then fill my soul to bursting and there will no longer be any room for regret, for heartbreak. Only then will my heart be truly full. Until then I wander this earth as a sojourner, neither part of this world nor apart from it. I receive many glimpses of the glorious future promised and made possible by Christ who has forgiven me of my sins. I enjoy glimpses of beauty and blessings. Yet I also walk this world of pain and trial.
May I be found faithful till the end. And Grandpa, on that day that I too am released from the cares of this world, I hope that I will find you there on the other side of eternity, enjoying God’s peace.