This entire year, you have been learning about the great missionary, Paul, through the book of Acts and the letters Paul wrote to the early churches. One morning, while you watched me straighten my hair, you just started chatting.
Sitting on the edge of the bathtub, you said, "Mom, I don't know if God wants me to be a missionary." I asked what you thought. You said, "Well, I've been thinking about it in my bed at night. And I think He does." You had never brought up the subject with your dad and I before that day. You'd just been pondering it in that amazing brain of yours.
Then you asked, "Mom, do people still go to jail for talking about Jesus? They don't, right?" Before I could even answer and tell you that, yes, in some countries they do, you blurted out: "Well, if I go to jail for talking about Jesus, then I will just do what Paul and Silas did. I will pray for an earthquake and when the prison doors open I won't run away. I'll tell the guards and the prisoners all about Jesus."
I didn't even know what to say. Your fearless faith amazes me.
It also drives me to Jesus. Because you are my baby. I don't want to see you go through trials or suffering, pain or tears. Selfishly, I want your life to be safe and comfortable, easy and pain-free.
But, I know that you are God's before you are mine. You belong to Him. Your dad and I have the tremendous privilege of raising you and training you up to walk in God's ways. Those ways include a life of faith. Those men and women remembered in God's Word for living by faith "acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth . . . they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city." (Hebrews 11:13, 15-16).
There would be no greater honor than to have raised you up to live each day by faith in Jesus Christ. To have you know with certainty that eternal life with Jesus awaits you. That you are only a stranger here on Earth. And to have that truth drive you to live for Jesus with reckless abandon.
Your favorite missionary, Paul, said this, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."(Ephesians 2:10).
Sweet Marshall, you are God's workmanship. You were created in Christ Jesus for good works. Good works that God prepared for you from before the creation of the world. Good works that He created that you should walk in them.
Whatever those works are, buddy, I hope you remain as fearless as you are today. Confident that God is Who He says He is. I want you to step out in faith. To go where God calls you, and to do what He says, because you trust what He says in His Word: that He will work out all things for your good and His glory. My desire is that I, too, will trust God so much, that I will be able to rest in Him, no matter what He calls you to. To rest in the fact that He is good, and that He loves you more than I do. And that He will work out all things for your good and His glory. Whether you're a businessman in America or a missionary in Africa. Wherever He may lead.
My prayer for you is that, at the end of your earthly life, you will have experienced the reality of God's words about Himself in Isaiah 46:4:
And right up to old age I am the same.
And right up to grey hair I will myself shoulder the weight
It is I who made,
and it is I who will carry,
and it is I who will shoulder the weight