No Turning Back
by Lisa Harris
I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase no turning back for several months now. The first time was at church when our family was in the states on furlough last fall and the worship leader lead “I have decided to follow, Jesus.” I remember singing that song hundreds of times as a child growing up, and it always convicted me. So when I first felt the call to be a missionary, I was certain there would never be any turning back for me. I might have been young and inexperienced, but I was going off to save the world.
On our second overseas assignment, I was older and more seasoned. Our family moved to an unreached people group on the other side of the world, a journey I expected to be both challenging and rewarding. And it has been. But as I sat in that pew that Sunday morning, after more than a decade of living in southern Africa, I realized that turning back was exactly what I wanted to do.
I didn’t want to leave my oldest behind to go to university in the States. I didn’t want to drop off my youngest at boarding school. I wanted us to be a family. To have Christmas together in our own home, to celebrate birthdays as a family, and to watch my kids grow up the way you’re supposed to. The way that seems normal, and good, and best.
Because sometimes not turning back seems so hard.
I expected the red tape, power outages, and water shortages living in a third-world country, but among a number of things, I struggled with experiencing empty nest syndrome too early and having my kids living in three different countries. It was not what I imagined life as a missionary would be like.
But here’s the thing. Go ahead and fill in the blanks for your own life, because I know that loss and struggles don’t just happen to missionaries. I know that for each one of us, life doesn’t always go the way we imagine. Life can be joyous, but it can also be tough, and the unplanned losses and dreams are hard to deal with.
The wife and mother whose husband just walked out, the couple dealing with infertility, the unexpected death of a spouse, waiting for a prodigal to come home, finding out you’ve just been laid off. . .The list is endless.
But it’s on those same days when all I want to do is turn back—when I simply want to walk away—that I’m reminded that I need to shift my eyes back on Him. I might not be able to change my situation or leave the season I’m in, but that doesn’t change who God is. He is my refuge, always ready to hold me up when there is trouble. He’s my rock and my fortress, my strength and my shield. Life won’t always be easy, but He’s called me—called all of us—to simply be faithful and trust Him.
So I look up and take another tentative step forward.
No turning back. No turning back.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Lisa Harris is a wife, mother, and best-selling author who lives with her family in southern Africa where they work as church-planting missionaries. You can learn more about her books and life in Africa by visiting her website at www.lisaharriswrites.com.
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