And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
Will the the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Over the past weeks, I have been reading the prophets, resonating with their sense of burden, their wrestling with the inscrutable ways of God. But the verse that continues to return to my mind is this one from Micah chapter 6. As missionaries we can falsely assume that we bring something to God, be it the sacrifice of our career, of our family relationships, of financial security or success. Or of the fruit of our bodies. We abhor the pagan idea of child sacrifice, but it can seem that God has required something similar as we put our children through mediocre or chaotic schooling, subject them to daily taunts and exclusion from other kids, deprive them of the extended family relationships or sports and other opportunities that their American peers enjoy. Our kids have weathered this year with difficulty. I asked one recently what they found most "annoying" in life, expecting complaints about siblings, but received the immediate reply: "Saying goodbye." They have lost three of the four other families on our team in the last 12 months; one of their two life-long dogs died; they were separated from us at a time when our death was a real possibility. Three of four have started new schools. Two have suffered debilitating and chronic injuries. All have had the painful adjustment to our family now existing dispersed between two countries. This in a context of spiritual conflict, and tropical discomforts.
Is this what God desires? While I do think that there is value in the Abraham-action of radical obedience at all costs, I do not think God relishes the suffering of our children. We live in a fallen world, and we live right on the fault line in many ways. We are not immune to the same realities that plague our neighbors. The suffering of our children is a side-effect of love, not the proof of it.
With what shall I come? What God wants, what He calls us to in the midst of tears, is to pursue justice and mercy with all our daily energies, and to keep that pursuit in the perspective of a humble walk with Him. No flashy sacrificial ceremonies, just the consistent daily willingness to go another mile down the road.
Today's path took us in pursuit of justice and mercy, struggling with tough choices on nutrition spending, pondering difficult diagnoses, organizing medical supplies. Today's path also involved a frightening over-the-handles bike accident and two lacerations that required sutures for Julia. Up until a few hours ago she was the only stitch-free Myhre; but tonight she tries to fall asleep with repaired gashes on her elbow and ankle. This evening's steps included hugs for a sobbing Jack whose heels still hurt and whose heart struggles to believe he'll ever be free of that problem. Tomorrow's path will take Luke back to the orthopedic surgeon, for the verdict on whether he can at last follow his heart's desire to play soccer. I pray that Julia heals without infection (especially the scrapes on her face!). I pray that Jack is filled with hope and courage and released from the impediment of his heel pain. I pray that Luke's verdict tomorrow frees him to return to activity, to grasp his last weeks of opportunity for a team sport.
May we love mercy even more deeply as we see it extended to our children, pulled along with us on the humble, bumpy walk.