A Family on Mission
Whether overseas or in your backyard, God has a plan for you.
by Emma Nash
My husband, Taylor, and I recently celebrated an anniversary of sorts. It was six years ago we boarded a plane with four suitcases and nervous energy to begin our life on the southern tip of Africa. Married only a few months prior, we were new to so much, and yet filled with a holy confidence in the Lord’s calling for us to serve Him in this way. If ministry takes time, cross-cultural ministry often takes more. With many uncertainties about the exact jobs we would fill, eventually we would settle into the roles God had for us and begin a passage into the newness of life trusting Him affords. It wasn’t long before we felt heavily the intense waves upon the walls of this boat we had so boldly boarded.
There was a profound tension in navigating the waters of deep cultural wounds in the heart of our community, our own young marriage and selfish tendencies, and the constant unfamiliarity of being foreigners. In spite of ourselves, it was through these storms we began to see the character of our Lord more deeply than ever. Where the wind threatened to blur our vision and make us question our mission, our heavenly Father, in all His glorious goodness, began redefining our understanding of a life on mission and commenced to transform our hearts.
LITTLE BY LITTLE WE REALIZED that leading a life of mission was less about moving to Africa and more about a heart of submission. The first speck of African dust to touch our shoes was only the first step in the journey to truly becoming a family on mission for God. Being international missionaries was a personal calling we followed to love, serve, and grow together with God’s beautiful people, ever pointing to His praise. However, our mission on the southern tip of Africa was no more worthy than that of our brothers and sisters at home. We were simply living the part of our story with Africa written on it, being who God made us to be, and learning to walk in surrender to what He would have us do. There will never be “more” mission to us because we moved 10,000 miles away than there is to the way you love your neighbor. As children of God, we each are empowered by His Spirit to usher His praise into the world around us. Being whose we are, wherever we are — this is God’s greatest desire for us all and our greatest act of obedience.
AFTER 31 PRECIOUS MONTHS, which included the birth of our daughter, we closed the door on our African life and transitioned back to the United States. Our Lord had grown trust, deepened faith, and bonded hearts together in ways only He can. His work was mighty both in and around us. He was present as Emmanuel, “God with us,” every step of the way. Through tearful goodbyes and cheerful hellos, the Lord was again faithful in His provision and His presence. We had a new business, a place to raise our children and grow in our marriage, and days filled with good work the Lord ordained for us to do. Nevertheless, we found ourselves lonely, disconnected, and disheartened as we prayerfully sought out where else God may lead us.
Upon seeking His will, He clearly guided us to stay planted where He already had us. Fighting disappointment, I longed so deeply for something more than the loneliness we felt on the little hill we called home. We wanted the Lord to make much of Himself in our lives. We craved community, but more than that, we felt God had given us a story to tell and no one to whom we could tell it. It seemed we had no one to invite into our home to experience the belonging we desired to share in Him. This state of living felt like no mission at all, and my heart faltered. But we serve a redeeming God. He revealed the deception in my thinking we were somehow “missionless” simply because we weren’t going.
The truth is that the Father was the One on mission for my heart and my praises; I was very much engaged in a mission with Him. For three years in Africa, He taught us to listen for Him and walk in obedience. For another three years of raising our babies and running our business, He met us in loneliness and taught us to look for Him. He pushed pause on all our going so He could gently lead us to find the ways He is present in our moments and give Him glory for it. He was creating the space for us to serve Him inwardly despite what the outward circumstances may be. In each of us seeking to become more like Christ, He is restoring what we may deem as lost and creating a story that brings Him glory.
THIS SEVENTH YEAR OF OUR MARRIAGE marks the year God planted our little family in community. Through the local church He has given us vision, purpose, and belonging. He has stayed true to His Word and done immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. We’re still just blue-collar business owners and still raising babies on a hill, but He has shifted our hearts toward Him with fresh mercies. He counsels us to approach our mission from the reality of who we are in Him no matter where we are. Our days may be grand and adventurous, or perhaps they’re quiet and steady. They may be boasted about and cheered for (like that of an African missionary) or they may be largely unseen and plain (like that of a stay-at-home mom). The daily rhythms don’t get to dictate our impact for Him, but our hearts do. We’re each called to pursue people with the love of Christ, but we can’t fail to see that the love of Christ is also pursuing us. He tells us whose we are and empowers who we are as we worship Him. He draws us sweetly into submission to Him so that when He says go we may say yes. The go may be different for me than it is for you, and it may even mean stay, but a life on mission isn’t defined by a place. A life on mission with the Father is a stature of surrender that brings His best into our lives and allows us to pour His best out of our lives to others.
GOD’S WORD TEACHES us to actively make disciples. Saying yes to Christ is a calling on each of our lives, but we often sit paralyzed in the what. A life on mission will not always look like going somewhere and doing something unusual. For our family, mission work looked like Africa, then it looked like coming home. Now it looks like finding community, raising godly kids, and serving the church. Our now is certain to change yet again, but the constant throughout the diverse circumstances in which we’ve walked has been God’s faithfulness in the pursuit of our hearts.
Sometimes the mission is simply being with God where you are. He is near, and He is serving us before we are ever serving Him. We must be attentive to the Lord’s work in us. Times of true submission in our young family have revealed miraculous attributes of a Father who cares deeply for His children. God’s heart for His church is for us to live in a posture of yes to His heart for us, as living sacrifices filled with worship. His greatest joy and mightiest work occurs in our surrender to Him, wherever He may lead us. If our hearts are consistently yielded to what He may ask of us moment by moment and day by day, voices will be lifted in song around us saying, “Taste and see that the LORD is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!” (Ps. 34:8). When this truth is engraved upon the souls of men, our mission is accomplished.
Emma Nash has been married to Taylor for nearly a decade. They live in Tennessee with their two adventurous kids who love to run wild on their family farm. Emma considers it a blessing to stay home with her children and is learning to savor the small, everyday moments. Her family enjoys sharing their lives with whoever is willing to brave the trek up their giant driveway.
This article originally appeared in HomeLife magazine (March 2020). For more articles like this, subscribe to HomeLife.