Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Counting Loss

Last week marked the end of our second month in France.  Although it feels like six months crammed into two.  To begin this post, I want to say that God is good.  We are now settling into a good rhythm of life.  Hannah is enjoying school (even though she is sad to have a “boy” teacher).  Amelia is enjoying the constant stimulation of city life and her language is exploding (mostly English but French as well).  The girls and I just caught a Mr. Mime in Pokémon GO. Finally, Jen and I are active in both formal and informal language learning.

Language learning is a beautiful trial.  Since our visas came late we did not join the regular semester in progress.  Instead we have a tutor and we are augmenting our language learning with independent study.  Which both Jen and I like.  We are getting to use many of the tools we received in our pre-field training. 

I must continually remind myself that we have only been in country two months. I should have no expectations of being fluent yet. (Though I am happy to report we are learning enough French to worship with some song on Sunday morning.) I am impatient to have a conversation in French with any depth or meaning.  Right now it is, “Hello, how are you?” “I am fine and you?” “I am being was with in happy school” (direct translation). 

This is particularly difficult for me since for almost a decade my career centered around my ability to communicate, specifically the gospel.  Now I cannot.  This brings me to the part of the whole journey that hit the hardest.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the church of Philippi, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7).

As I reflect on this passage in think about this idea of loss. “I count all things as loss.” I count all things as loss.  For me this seemed like an easy thing to say, “yeah sure, I can get rid of this or that thing.”  Things and money were never a motivating factor for me.  In fact, selling most of our possessions was quite liberating. 

The Apostle Paul was willing to lose all things.  I am game, let’s sell most of our stuff and leave for the mission field.  But, for me, I did not know that “all things” was much deeper than just selling my stuff.  I gave up something much closer and much more foundational to myself to follow God to missions.  For me, I gave my identity, my identity of being pastor, my identity of being a writer (writing over 2700 words a week), my identity of being a teacher, and my identity of being in command of my language.

Now I have a new identity.  One I don’t fully understand yet.  One that is gradually emerging.  Currently I am that person who speaks like a child, who gets quaint little smiles of, “isn’t it cute he’s trying to speak.” (To be fair the people here are wonderful and patient with me as I fumble with their language.) I’ve gone from a communicator of the gospel to a baby talker.  (I look forward to the day when I have fully put on the French language.)

Yet still, even more difficult is that I asked my family to do the same.  I asked Hannah to give up, her woods, her home church family, her extended family, and her dog, to go to the city, and go to school with a “boy” teacher.  Amelia I asked to give up the security of familiarity, to the chaos of constantly moving.  I asked Jen to give up the identity of being an “homeschool mama” and homemaker, to become active in a new career. 

And the Apostle Paul says he would gladly do this.  He would count all of this as loss so that could gain something greater (and if you read verses 4-6 Paul was talking about identity).  I struggled with the idea of losing my identity throughout the time leading up to, and setting foot in France.  My struggle came from looking at Philippians 3:7 without taking time to read Philippians 3:8-11.  The big idea is that Paul would lose it all for a much greater prize.  What I gave up felt significant to me. Today dawn is rising on the reality that what I gain is infinitely more wonderful.  I get more of Christ!

He is faithful.  Through the striping away of my things and identities, Jesus has been faithful to show me my secret sins, my secret prides, and my deep wounds. I was hiding from all of them. God was faithful to convict me, forgive me, cleans me and heal me, so that I can have more of Him. 

Ministry (and life for that matter) is not easy. Following Jesus is not easy.  But, there is deep joy that makes every ounce of pain and loss, every faithful wound worth it.  The deep joy is that I get to have more of the glory of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ (who counted all things as loss for me, Philippians 2:6-11).  Who marked me with His Spirit, by whom I get to intimately cry out to God in all joy and sorrow, “You are my Great Daddy!”  

All of my identities, all of my familiarities, all of my strengths, all of my security, all of my things are loss compared to what I gain in Jesus.  I write this with fear because God will take me up on these words. With confidence I am glad that He does, because He is faithful to give me more of Himself. 

My prayer for you, as you read this, is that you would experience more of Jesus.  My prayer is that, as you experience loss, you would see the great faithfulness of God and experience a deeper measure of his presence.  My prayer for you is that you would hold all things with open hands so that as Jesus takes all things from you, He would fill those hands with Himself.  In this, I ask that you pray the same for the Hahn family. Pray that we experience more of Him. 


  1. Definitely have been thinking about some of the same (with slightly less perspective and significantly more floundering) as we're preparing to transition into parenthood and myself into stay-at-home-mom. This may be a print and frame piece for me. :) Thanks for the encouragement - we'll be praying for yours, especially with the language learning!

    1. Thank you. God loves to grow his children, and growth always seems to come through hard things (James 1:2-5). In the moment it never feels great, but with the perspective of time you can see the scale of the spiritual growth. We miss you guys and are praying for you.

  2. So happy to see how the Lord is moving and working in your lives. Change is hard but you all are taking it head on for His glory and that speaks volumes of your serving hearts. I pray that He uses you to reach those who do not know Him. That He grows and shapes not only the lives you touch but yours as well. Although you are terribly missed here at home, we are grateful to know that you are following your calling and doing what we all are called to do and that's further His kingdom! I pray for you always! Much love to you all! Jess :)