Saturday, July 25, 2009

Holding Them With An Open Hand

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord answered my prayer and gave him to me. Now I give him back to the Lord. He will belong to the Lord all his life." (1 Samuel 1:27-28, NCV)

This morning I put my eldest on a bus for her very first missions trip to help remaining hurricane victims in Waveland, Mississippi. Excitement and tears marked the departure. She had her fears, but was looking forward to the week ahead. I was so proud of her, but knew that I would be missing her while she was gone.

When we had told people that she was making this trip, all sorts of questions came up. Were we sending her with a cell phone? How could we let her travel so far away without us at only 12 years old? Were we going to be checking in every day? I was surprised at some of the questions. In my mind, this is an opportunity to let her try her wings before she leaves the nest. And I've always felt that God has something special planned for each of my children, no matter what that might be.

Like Hannah in the Bible's book of 1 Samuel, children did not come easily to our family. We experienced numerous miscarriages and repeated infertility treatment. We had even begun down the path of adoption. When the Lord blessed us with a second child who had a bleeding disorder, we could even see how the trials of building a family were merely preparation to be good medical advocates for our son. And we know all too well that each of our children's 3 lives are an amazing miracle.

All that considered, we have held them with an open hand. Like Hannah, we have dedicated each one to the Lord. We realize that these precious individuals are on loan to us for 18 years at the most. We consider it a solemn responsibility to nurture and raise them as God's children.

Is this always easy? Of course, not! Is micro-managing and worrying a hard habit to rebuff? Absolutely!

Nevertheless, I am always repeating to my children that it's my job to train myself out of a job. I need to teach them how to make decisions, live life and risk failure. If they don't learn to do these things under my roof, how will they ever learn to do them on their own?

Besides, some of the worst mistakes come either when I'm right with them or when I push too hard. Charlie has had some of his worst bleeds when I'm standing next to him, doing nothing. Thankfully, I was there to help with his recovery. Lexi, had struggles with choosing between going on this trip or having fun going to camp. The more I kept my mouth shut, the more room there was for God to work on her heart.

The key is to push through the racing of our hearts and pray like crazy. As I often say to parents in crisis, God loves these kids even more than we ever could. He's numbered every hair on their heads. (Luke 12:7) Our calling as parents is to "train a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6) and let God do the rest. While there's no doubt that it's difficult, trusting God is not only divinely pleasing, but is also the best legacy we can give those cherished offspring.

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