When Jesus says you have to hate your mom
This week a hard saying of Jesus hit home in the Oshman family in several ways. On Wednesday I took Abby Grace to the spine doctor and was reminded anew that her significant scoliosis needs frequent monitoring and then surgery in 4-6 years. Today both Hannah and Zoe made new, very sweet friends with whom they both long to get together frequently in the future. Lastly, my dad is in a new season of needing much assistance and care, as he ages, and I am leaving right as it begins.
These things--Abby’s health, Hannah’s and Zoe’s friends, and recognizing the needs of my father--all crash into the hard saying of Jesus, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26 or see Matthew 10:37-38).
I want to stay in Denver so that Abby Grace can be monitored at Children’s Hospital, home to one of the best pediatric spinal clinics in the nation. I don’t want Hannah and Zoe to have to say goodbye to new playmates and be the weird foreigner on the playground for years to come. And I want to be here for my dad’s daily needs. I want to provide these good things to my family.
Yet, God has said, “Go.” Since well before we were married, Mark and I strongly believed that Jesus commanded us personally to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). We have always known, without a doubt, that God called us to be missionaries. While the location and people group may change (and may well be Denver or the US one day), we know for sure, right now, it’s the Czech Republic.
Because we know that God has called us to go, we also know that this hard saying applies to us. We have to hate our kids and parents. Or said another way, we have to love Jesus more than we love them. We have to be willing to obey Him more than we’re compelled to serve our families. They have to come second to His will.
Our willingness to place our family second to Christ’s commission, is a gift straight from our Savior Himself. He not only leans our heart towards His call, He provides the strength to obey. Even beyond that, he blesses. Mark 10:29-31 promises that Jesus will richly provide for those who have left their homes and families. It says that He will reward His disciples now and for eternity. Additionally, in the Great Commission, mentioned above, He says He will be with us always, to the very end of the age.
I can trust God to care for my kids and my dad as Mark and I obey His command to go. He promises to be with us and all authority belongs to Him (Matthew 28: 20, 18). I know these things in my head and I have experienced their truth in the past. This week, though, facing the loss of some good things that I want to give to the people I love has made me sad.
It was no coincidence that at church tonight we sang, “We Must Go” by Tim Hughes. This moving song’s chorus says, “Fill us up and send us out.” And that’s my prayer too. Lord, fill me with all that you know I need. In my own strength it can be painful to submit my family to your will. But I know, God, that you are sovereign, You will reward, and You will fill us up and send us out according to Your will.