It was more picture perfect than a postcard. The full white moon poised proudly in the pale evening sky with waves of white clouds wisping upwards towards it, driven by the breath of the wind. Behind the clouds the receding radiance of the sun still gleamed. The freshly-cut grass all around glowed green and well-tended houses stood strong and tall on large lots of land. On top of all this beauty we were observing on our drive home, we had just come from another breathtaking view at the home of friends. Theirs was a vista of wide open fields, towering trees, and gentle deer dotting the horizon just beyond their front steps.
"It is no wonder people in other parts of the world think that the United States is the land of opportunity," I said to my husband as we appreciated the scene around us. "Most people around the world cannot even begin to imagine this much space, much less owning a beautiful house and land like we see here. It is honestly like a dream."
A grumpy voice interrupted from the back seat. "Yeah, and we are the missionary kids who live in the car, and get out of the car, and visit churches, and live in a little box behind three big gates!"
This unexpected and unhappy comment pricked my heart. It was not my intention to foster discontent in my children with my remarks. In all sincerity, however, I must admit to having sensed it lurking even in corners of my own heart as we admired so much beauty and plenty in our passport country during these early weeks of home ministry.
Backpedaling now, my husband and I sought to reorient our child's perspective by citing the warmth of relationship in our host culture and the privileges we've been blessed with while living there. Our facts were sound and somewhat acknowledged by the child in question, but I was reminded of several things. First, the power of words and the need for care in using them. Second, the depths of my children's hearts and the importance of consistently testing for transition turmoil they may feel but not express. And third, the draw towards discontent that lurks in every human heart and the importance of an eternal perspective.
This beautiful place may seem like a dream, since that is exactly what it is. Our life here is "just a vapor," God's Word tells us in James. Or as C.S. Lewis described his Narnia, it is just "... the cover and the title page" which precedes what God has prepared for those who know Him. Deliver us from discontent, Lord, and grant us hearts of gratefulness for that which is given during our time here. Allow us wisdom to guide our children through the phases of furlough and the big feelings that it inspires. And may we see this world from your perspective with its needs and our responsibility to reach the lost "while it is still called today!"