For parents, it is a heart wrenching time. (Well, at least for most parents.) We pour our lives into these kids for 18 years. We spend countless hours training our kids for life outside our house, but when the time comes to actually let them leave, we panic.
Our oldest child graduated from our home school this year. She is our first for everything. First child, first teenager, first driver, first graduate... first everything. With each new season of life she has come into, it has been hard as a mom to watch her grow and become independent of her parents. But, if I am doing my job correctly, when it is time for her to leave our home, she will be ready. I am blessed that she is not leaving us yet. She is staying home instead of going to college. She is working 5 days a week and babysitting when she can. She recently got a job at our church as an assistant to a coordinator in our nursery. We go to a big church, so she will be plenty busy.
But, I have several very close friends who also had their first born to graduate this year and their kids just left last week for college. My friends emailed telling how difficult it was & they could never have been prepared for the emotions of leaving their children at a college with strangers. They didn't want to leave them there, but knew that they had to. It was time to let their children go. No matter how much we moms would like to think that our children will need us forever, they won't.
With all the recent talk among my friends of how difficult it was to let their children go, I couldn't help but think about other parents in the Bible who had to let their children go. It was never easy, but they knew they had to do it.
Hannah is the first one I thought of. In 1 Samuel 1:11 we find the barren Hannah vowing to God that if he would only give her a son then she would "give him to the LORD all the days of his life." Later in the chapter we read that God answered her request for a son and she kept her promise to God. When he was weaned (maybe about 5-8 years old) she took him to the temple to live with Eli the Priest. Can you imagine how difficult it must of have been for Hannah to take the son that she waited so long for to live with someone else. She didn't even get 18 years with him. I can tell you that if weaning was the deciding factor on how long my son stayed with me, I would have tried to nurse him as long as I could. I can picture Hannah savoring every moment with her young Samuel knowing that those moments would soon only be memories.
Have you ever done that with your children? Have you ever found yourself just watching them, knowing that one day very soon they won't be there to watch anymore. Gut wrenching!
The other parent I thought about was the father of the 2 sons in the parable in Luke 15. He had 2 sons and one asked for his part of the inheritance. Some time later he decided it was time to leave so he left to make his mark on the world. I can see this father standing in a window watching his young son walk down the road, not knowing if he would ever see his son alive again. Most of us have a child like this who is anxious for the day when they can finally break loose of our home & enter the exciting, adventurous world on their own. I have one and when the day comes for him to leave, I pray that I let him go.
This father in the parable lets his son go. He knows that he may not be ready to leave, but he lets him go anyway.
As parents, if we have raised our children according to the ways of the Lord then when it is time to let them fly the nest, they will be ready. We may not think they are ready, but the Lord's timing is so perfect. His grace is so abundant that it is mind boggling to me. In spite of all my failures and goof-ups, my kids will still accomplish the purpose that God had given them.
I don't know the feeling yet of leaving a child at college or seeing them move out of our house. I do not look forward to the day. But I pray that when my day comes that I will let my children fly out of my nest as they fly to make their own, knowing that they do not go alone, the Lord is guiding them all the way.
3 John 4
"I have no greater joy then to hear that my children are walking in the truth."