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Letting go of kids isn’t easy for parents, but God’s purpose is the ultimate safety net

Sat., Sept. 25, 2010

Letting go is not easy for me.

I’m reminded of this as she disappears into the airport security checkpoint, soon to disappear further to New York, then Hungary, then by train to Romania. I wonder for just a second or two how her 17 years have passed by so quickly.

And I’m reminded there is a day coming when she’ll leave not for a 10-day mission to Romanian orphans but much longer. Life just works that way. One day when she returns home, it will just be for a visit.

That’s what I’m learning from her brother. Nearly 20 now, he got me thinking of this letting go business a year ago when he went off to school in Moscow. OK, so it was Moscow, Idaho – not Russia – but like I said, letting go isn’t easy for me!

Is it for you?

For most of us, it isn’t.

Change, even change that seems to fall within life’s normal rhythms, brings us face to face with a reality we’d rather not think about: we’re not in control of things. God is.

Oh, sure, we make plans and decisions. But the older we get, the more we realize that our life experience is the sum of many parts we could not have purposed on our own.

David, the shepherd, psalmist and king of Israel, put it this way: “You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me… and in Your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Psalm 139:5, 16, NKJV).

The man who wrote those words needed to look no further than his own unlikely rise from pasture to palace to understand that God is sovereign. Sovereign? Theologians use that word to say that God ultimately calls the shots; we don’t.

Letting go – embracing change with faith and peace of mind – is much easier when we accept the reality of God’s sovereignty. Faith in God requires that we let go of our way, our wants, our expectations, our strong feelings about how life is supposed to be, and aim our ambition toward God’s purposes.

We find those purposes in God’s word, the Bible, a love letter to us from our creator that we ignore to our own detriment.

Much of our worry, anxiety and disappointment originates from the false assumption that life ought to revolve around our purposes rather than God’s. This is a truth we do well to wrestle with each and every day as we’re reminded how little we actually control.

As a dad, I understand God’s plan is not for my kids to stay with me forever. They assure me it is not theirs, either! God wants to use them somewhere in this world to share his love with others, in a manner unique to the way he has shaped them.

So that must be my goal for them, too, even it means they may one day be far from Mom and Dad. The sting of change is soothed tremendously by the delight of knowing that, ultimately, they are in his strong hands, not their parents’ hands, anyway.

We’re promised peace – an inner well-being that cannot be touched by changing circumstances – if we’ll let God direct our lives and cooperate with his plans rather than fight against them.

Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

I read that promise and believe it often these days. I have to.

Like I said, letting go isn’t easy for me.

Steve Massey is the pastor of Hayden Bible Church (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.

 

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