Our son, Ethan, finally flew back to the U.S. last Sunday for college.    Jeanette is accompanying him for 2 weeks to help him get settled in a new city.  She needs to help him open a bank account, attend mandatory parent/student orientation at his school, and basically prepare him for a life of complete independence that is… from us, and then fly back to Taiwan.  I don’t think 2 weeks will be enough, but that’s what she has.  We can only trust in the Lord who will never leave his side.

At the airport, all I could say was “I love you Ethan” while giving him a hug when what I really wanted to say were “I’m sorry” and “thanks.”  I was & still am sorry for not being a better dad.  I’ve made numerous mistakes stemming from my own insecurities & wounds.  Before becoming a father, I always thought I would be a perfect dad, but such was a wishful thinking that only left me disappointed & discouraged at myself.  All I could do & did every day for past 17 years was cry out to Ethan’s perfect Father in heaven to cover our lives with His powerful grace.  Although we can change someone’s behaviors through motivation & even manipulation, ultimately shaping of an inner person, only our Lord who knows us inside & out can do.  It’s a truth I grasp, and yet it is also the truth that I have the hardest time fully practicing because deep inside, if I am honest with myself, feel that I am the one who is responsible for our son’s well-being, happiness & effectiveness as a child of God.

As I saw our son leave for his flight, I was reminded of how little control I have over people’s lives & also life itself.  Our only hope is Jesus Christ & the grace He pours out into our lives.  When we come to understand at our core that it is by God’s grace alone, all of our fears, guilt & what ifs dissipate.  Only peace & thankfulness remain.  The truth is it is purely by grace that our son’s 1st year in college is taken care of financially.  It is also by grace that he has come to know Christ personally & intimately.  It is by grace alone that he has grown up to be an upright young man.  Truly His grace is at work in our lives!

The truth about grace has never been more relevant than now as we are living day to day on the mission field.  Each day that we have here in Taiwan is a gracious gift from God.  We have many stories of God’s grace that brought tears of joy to our hearts.  Most recently, we discovered that two of our donations came from two couples from Hong Kong.  These couples are people we have never met.  Why should they pray for us & support us?  I believe it’s because they themselves have been touched by the grace of our risen Savior.  There is no other answer.

Last week, I was sharing with OMF new workers that unless God brought us here, we couldn’t be here.  After 1 year in Taiwan, I must add that unless God graciously allows us to be here, we cannot stay another day even if we want to.  Living under grace helps us to see life & ministry for what they are… gifts from above, and none of my weaknesses & imperfections matter much anymore in light of His grace.