Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

            We took our daughter to college this past week. It was a bittersweet event. It is hard letting go.

            For a number of very good reasons, our daughter decided to attend college in North Carolina. We live in Minnesota, which means we had a two-day drive to get her where she needed to go. The trip down was long, but it was also fun as we shared the journey together. The day after we arrived we met her roommate and her parents for the first time. We had a delightful meal together and then visited their home in South Carolina, just 12 minutes away. The next day we got to play tourist in the area. My younger brother and his family live in the area, so they introduced us to a couple of the local attractions. The next day we moved our daughter into her room and she began orientation at the school. Saturday evening about 7:00PM we said our goodbyes and drove back to my brother’s house. The next morning, early, we began our journey home. It was nothing like our journey down to North Carolina. The van seemed very empty and quiet. The miles ticked along as we put distance between our daughter and us. We knew it was the right thing, but it was still hard. It felt very strange when we arrived home to a very quiet and empty house.

            As I reflect upon our experience, there are a couple of things that come to mind. Children are a great blessing from God. As parents we sometimes forget this truth. At times our children test us and stretch us and frustrate us, yet we don’t want to let them go. God uses children as a tool in His hands to shape and mold us as people. They highlight our weaknesses and challenge us to work on the rough edges of our lives. Children also add depth and breadth to our lives in ways that nothing else can do. The Psalmist tells us that we are blessed if we have many children.

Psalms 127:3-5 (NIV)
Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

            Our children are given to us as a trust from God. It is possible for us to begin to believe that our children are, in some way, our possession. The comedian Bill Cosby once quipped to his son, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it.” Our children are not our possessions; they are our responsibility. We have the responsibility to nurture and care for them. We have the opportunity to shape and mold their lives. We can do this in a positive, God honoring way or we can do this in a negative, selfish way. God expects us to invest in the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of our children. We do this through both our words and our actions. Some of the most important lessons our children learn are “caught” rather than “taught.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV)
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk long the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

            We must hold onto our children loosely because there comes a time when we must let them go. For the first 18-20 years of their lives, children are under our care. The goal of this time is to prepare them for the day when they will launch out into the world on their own. It is the day we all looked forward to and longed for when we were young. It is also the day our parents were the least excited about. Our primary role as parents is not to protect our children from the world, but to prepare our children to face the world. When the day comes when we open our hands and let them fly free, we need to trust God to continue to nurture and care for them. After all, He is much better at it than we are.

            We have three children. They are all young adults, making their way in the world. They will always be our children, but they will never again be in the same relationship that we had when they lived at home. We have all entered into a new, hopefully deeper, richer relationship as they become the people God created them to be. Our nest is now empty, but our hearts are full of a little sadness and much joy. 

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