Can you remember the absolute joy you felt when your baby was placed in your arms and, at the same time, your realization of the awesome responsibility you now had? This precious, tiny being that you had nurtured in your womb was now living in our big, sometimes dangerous world. Scripture tells us in Psalm 127: 3-5 “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them”. God, their creator, entrusts our children to us to love, nurture, teach and protect. We, in turn, must entrust them to God for their ultimate safety and destiny.
We watch over our children carefully: checking to see that they are breathing in their crib; trying to shield them from getting hurt as they learn to walk, climb and explore; standing at the bus stop to ensure they get off safely; learning about their friends and their homes. But deep inside we know we can’t protect them completely. We can only do our best and pray that is enough.
A paradox is that while we want to keep our children safe, we also need to give them opportunities to grow, explore and learn new things. Part of raising them to be mature, independent people is to teach them to expand their experiences without fear and anxiety and how to make their own decisions (hopefully wise ones). Children are born with an innate curiosity that increases their knowledge and understanding of how the world works. They are driven to crawl, walk, climb and explore. Each day is a step of learning, growing and becoming a more independent person.
One of the most difficult things I ever did as a parent was allow our daughter Natalie to travel to Guatemala on a mission trip at age 14. I felt as though the fingers of my heart were painfully being pried from holding onto her. Tears streamed down my face as I spoke to the visiting missionaries and entrusted her care to them. But I believed that I needed to encourage her love for the Lord and for those broken and lost. I had to trust that God would watch over her and protect her. If fear tried to rise up, I prayed to God until peace replaced the anxiety and concern.
When she returned home a week later, I learned that while sitting on a bank, tossing stones, it seemed as though the stone was still in her hand. After tossing again, she looked to discover that a scorpion was attached between her fingers. Thankfully, she shook again and it flew off, without stinging her. She and we, her parents, received a deep assurance that God kept her in His care.
Philippians 4:6-8 gives us this precious advice: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Take time today to meditate on how vast God’s love is (Ephesians3:17-19) and how faithful and trustworthy He is (2 Thessalonians 3:3; Lamentations 3:22-23 ). This can help you to release your child into His loving care, while they are with you and when they are not.