Hold On Lightly
The tone of my mother’s voice on the phone scared me. There was something terribly wrong, though neither she nor my father would tell me what was happening, nor would they ever ask me to come home from Colombia. My initial reaction was to pack my bags immediately and get on the first plane to Canada. However, I knew instinctively that if I left Colombia, I would never go back. It would be the end of a childhood dream; a dream that had become a call and then a reality. So I went to the Lord and asked Him to show me beyond any doubt what I should do. I then contacted a close friend of my mother’s, a retired public health nurse who had been visiting my parents regularly. I also spoke to their pastor, and to their doctor.
My mother’s friend had become increasingly concerned about the situation. She knew, because of her connection to the public health service, that the nurses who regularly visited our home were also concerned about the deteriorating health of both my parents. Their pastor had never visited them, even though the church was only four blocks from our house. He knew nothing of the situation and did not offer any help or suggestions. The doctor openly lied to me about the treatment and medication that he had prescribed for my mother, assuming that I did not know her history. In a letter, he presented a diagnosis that I considered suspect under the circumstances, and one that later proved to be completely false. There were no family members close enough or able to help. The picture looked pretty bleak. Nevertheless, I still had a decision to make. Should I resign and return home? Should I stay and believe that God would provide somehow for my parents? I was prepared to do either, but I needed to be sure what God’s will was.
I continued with my regular devotional program. I knew that if I tried hard enough, I could find verses to justify anything I chose to do, but I truly wanted to avoid manipulating God or make Him seem to say something that He was not saying at all. I found that God graciously answered. Every single day, something in my reading of the Scripture addressed my problem. I documented everything that the Lord told me, little knowing how valuable those pieces of paper would be later. I took my time waiting on the Lord even though the situation at home was difficult. Finally, several months later, I resigned, said my goodbyes, packed my bags, and left almost eight years in Colombia behind.
My first year back at home was traumatic. It was not just the health issues of my parents and all that was involved in getting things back on track that was upsetting. I knew I had made the right decision, but even though I read and reread all the notes I had taken during the decision-making process to reassure myself that I was where God wanted me to be, I felt empty, and lost.
Gradually I came to realize that my feelings were not the result of having made a bad decision, but that they rather arose from a wrong assumption. I had come to believe that I was Lynda Schultz, missionary. I had become my job description. Now that I was no longer a missionary, I had no identity. I was nothing, no one.
In those hours before God, He showed me that my value to Him was not found in my job description, my credentials, my talents, my service. He taught me that I was just as valuable to Him caring for my parents as I had been teaching seminary students in Colombia. I learned that I was valuable to Him simply because I was, and that all He ever wanted from me was loving obedience, wherever that obedience led me and whatever that obedience called on me to do. In that first year, among many other lessons, I learned to hold on lightly to everything, even to being a missionary.
I spent ten years at home in Canada, some living at home and a few more living close enough to monitor, but far enough away not to ‘mother.’ In 1991, the Lord took my father and my mother home. Just months before their deaths, the Lord planted a seed called Venezuela in my heart, a seed I did not expect to see develop into anything. God, however, knew the plans that He had for my parents, and the plans that He had for me. Though I have been here in Caracas now for 12 years, I still hold on lightly to being a missionary. There is nothing that I need to prove to God. He loves me just because.