By Gayla Parker, BCM/D WMU Executive Director, Missionary for Missions Education/Customization
The memory of loosing our son in an elevator in Hong Kong still causes me to break out in a cold sweat. Our family was visiting Hong Kong for a brief vacation from the Philippines. We had planned to stay at the guesthouse for missionaries located on an upper floor of a high-rise condo building. We were standing in the lobby waiting for the elevator to see our home for the week for the first time. All of us were excited to be in this new exciting place. When the elevator doors opened our six-year-old son Jesse ran inside the elevator ahead of the rest of the family. Just when he arrived inside, the doors closed leaving all us standing outside!
For you parents out there, you can imagine the sense of panic. We were in a country where Chinese was spoken instead of English or Cebuano. Communication was a challenge at best. Jesse did not know what floor our condo was on nor did he know how to ask for help. My husband and our two older sons immediately ran up the stairs hoping to catch the elevator on another floor. I waited not so patiently in the lobby just in case Jesse made it back down to the lobby. All of our hearts were pounding with fear. Jesse was lost in Hong Kong – your worst vacation nightmare.
Inside the elevator, Jesse rode all the way to the top floor where a female security guard was standing. She noticed his tears and got on the elevator with him to offer her help. Instead of returning to the lobby the elevator went to the basement. We were not there and he was still crying.
After what seemed to be an eternity the elevator doors opened in the lobby and there stood Jesse and the female security guard. She looked at my fear stricken tear stained face and knew immediately that I must be the mother of the little blonde headed boy that was lost in the elevator. Never again did Jesse run ahead of us into an elevator!
Jesse had no intention of putting himself in that situation or putting his family in that kind of panic. He was simply excited to be a part of what was ahead.
When I think back on that experience I can’t help but think about the times that the people of God have run ahead of Him in their excitement to be a part of what was to come.
Sarah ran ahead of God when she was told she would have a son. She could not imagine how God could possibly do that through her (surely He meant adopted son) so in her excitement for the possibility she ran ahead of God and took matters into her own hands. That did not work out so well causing heartbreak for a maid servant, Hagar, and sense of panic later in Israel’s history (Genesis 15-16).
Or what about Peter who in his enthusiasm, ran ahead of Jesus only to find himself denying Jesus multiple times before the night was over. He never intended to put himself in a situation that caused a lot of pain and sorrow. He never intended to cause the panic that came from cutting off the ear of a guard; he was simply wrapped up in the excitement of the moment (Matthew 26).
Their stories and my own experience are reminders to me not to run ahead of God. So often when I sense God is up to something exciting my first reaction is to run ahead in my own excitement instead of waiting on God to take the lead. In those times I have found myself experiencing the pain of disappointment. And sometimes my exuberance has left others behind in a state of panic much like my family felt when Jesse got on that elevator. While my intentions were good my mistake was running ahead of God.
This Thanksgiving I will take some time to give praise to God for my husband, my three sons, their wives and our grandson. But I will also take some time to thank God for being patient with me when in my excitement I sometimes run ahead of him. And as I begin looking toward the end of 2012 and to the beginning of 2013 I will also take some time to “Be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 47:10). I can save others and myself a lot of agony when I wait on God!