Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Circling my Son

My son is a graduating.

Yes, my son is a senior in high school, and he graduates in just over a month. I’m not sure this reality has even hit me yet. Our year has been so busy and crazy and chaotic—between adjusting to marriage and blending two families and fighting for my step-daughter and losing my father-in-law and a new job and everything else that has happened in the last twelve months.

Sure, I’ve helped him with scholarship applications. I’ve ordered his cap and gown and graduation announcements. I’ve visited college campuses with him.

But I have yet to absorb the truth that my oldest child is moving out of my house in only four months. I won’t see him Every. Single. Day. If he’s like I was, I might not even see him every single month!

I won’t come home to see his bearded face. I won’t get to tell him goodnight. He and his friends won’t be hanging out in the room late every night. I won’t get the phone call every morning as he drives to school or every day when he comes home from school. No more late night talks as we hang out in the bedroom or on the couch. Things will definitely change.

I hate that I haven’t taken time to enjoy every moment with him, to savor the many “lasts” we’ve had this year. I hate that our lives have been so crazy and chaotic that I haven’t milked this year for everything it’s worth.

But one thing I have done…

Last week, I was in Shawnee, OK, for business. Blake plans to attend my alma mater, Oklahoma Baptist University, which is in Shawnee. I decided before I left that morning that I was going to make sure I was preparing Blake the best way I know how.

After wrapping up my day, I switched into some comfortable clothes and my walking shoes. Just as the Israelites circled Jericho, I marched around that beautiful campus claiming every square inch for my son. I prayed over the next four years of my son’s life, asking God to use his time at OBU to do a mighty work in him so God can do a mighty work through him.

As I walked around the dorm where Blake will live, I prayed Blake’s life will be a living testimony, God will bless him with a life marked by the hand of God. As I walked around the library, I asked God to give him a clear mind, to give him success in his studies. As I walked around the student center, I prayed God would bless him with friendships to last a lifetime, friendships to sharpen him as iron sharpens iron. As I walked around the chapel, I asked God to give him a hunger and thirst for the things of God as only God can do. As I walked around the recreation center, I asked God to keep him healthy and vibrant physically, that he would care for his body as the temple of God. As I walked around the girls’ dorm, I begged God to bring the right woman into his life at the right time, to keep him sexually pure in every way.

Yes, I drew a circle around campus, claiming it as the Promised Land for Blake. I have an overwhelming sense God is about to do a major work in his life, to shore up his faith in ways only He can do. Sending my son to college and all it entails is sometimes overwhelming, but God has given me an incredible peace. We are walking in faith, believing He is leading every step of the way.

I am thankful I have committed to praying for my kids since they were infants. I’ve certainly not been perfect, and the last few years have been difficult to keep everything going, to discipline myself to pray the way I want to. But from this day forward, I commit myself to praying a circle around campus every chance I get. That’s one thing I can do and do well.

What exactly will I pray?

Forget the past. Over half of Blake’s life has been filled with pain. Divorce. Moving to a new school. Making decisions no teenager should have to make. Losing his dad.

Blake and I have talked a lot lately about facing our past, about making peace with the unprecedented pain he has experienced. I am so proud of the way he has stepped up, reached out, become a man. He’s working hard to deal with the pain so he can permanently put it behind him.

And that’s my prayer. I want him to forget what is behind so he is not stuck in the pain of his past.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[a] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past… Philippians 3:13a

Look forward to what’s ahead. Blake has an amazing future! He is smart, witty, kind. He is ambitious and has an entrepreneurial mindset. He is determined to be a success in more ways than one.

My desire is for him to focus on the future, trust that God has good plans for him to do far more than anything he could ever ask or imagine. I want him to see the prize—a future filled with God’s blessings and grace—and run with endurance for the rest of his days. 

…and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13b-14

Experience healing so God can use his story to comfort others. There has been no greater blessing in my life than to see God use my story to help and encourage others, and I want Blake to find the same joy in helping others with his story, a story God is writing every single day. He can only help others when he allows God to have complete control, when he fully surrenders to the Savior. It’s in surrender where we find the healing hand of God, where we release control so God can step in and take over.

I pray daily for Blake to find God faithful, relentless in His pursuit of him, good and loving. I pray every day for Blake to experience Jehovah Rapha, the God of healing.

In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Hosea 6:2

Know God. There’s nothing greater than to fall madly in love with Jesus! When we are in the midst of the pain and the trials of this life, it’s sometimes difficult to see God, to know His goodness. But, when we truly get to know God, we see a God of grace and mercy and goodness, a God who loves us more than we can ever imagine, a God who loves to shower us with His good gifts.

And that’s the God I want Blake to know. I want him to know the God of his mother, the God of his grandfather. I want him to know the God of his ancestors. I want him to reach a place where my God truly becomes his God, a place where he fully takes his faith as his own. It’s hard to watch your child struggle, but it’s in the wrestling where faith is solidified, tried, and purified.

And that’s my prayer for Blake.

Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” Hosea 6:3

Sometimes, my prayers seem so limited, so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. There’s so much more I want for my son than what I’ve mentioned here. I want him to have peace in this life, joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable. I want him to experience a ministry only God could create. I know he longs to be the husband and father, the man, God created him to be. There’s so much it’s overwhelming to know exactly how to pray.

But that’s where the Holy Spirit steps in and takes over, interceding on our behalf with groans we cannot understand. What security to know the Holy Spirit takes over where my humanity limits me! Just as He’s always filled in the gaps in Blake’s childhood, He still stands ready to do what I cannot.

What about you? What are you praying for your kids? Your grandkids? Your spouse? Is there some way I can pray for you? With you? Scripture teaches us where two or three are gathered, there He is with us, hearing our prayers and answering. Let’s join our voices together as we pray with and for one another.


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