You shed crocodile tears when your little cherub bravely entered the kindergarten door, cartoon backpack in tow. You watched your tyke kick his first soccer goal. You rejoiced when your teen eagerly entered the church bus on his first mission trip. Then he met a girl. All of a sudden, this baby became a bucket of hormones!
You had to release your panic when he stepped across the threshold of his freshman dorm room. What temptations awaited him in this world of secularism and hedonism? Would he stand strong?
Thank God. He graduated without becoming a drug-addled psychopath. But did you breathe a sigh of relief? Of course not. You still saw him as the tiny toddler who struggled to stand on his own two feet.
You stayed on your knees for twenty-two long years. Surely you could rest now? He’s a grown-up. God will perfectly protect him from every storm-tossed year of life. He will marry the right girl, procreate two perfect children and drive a Toyota mini-van with leather seats. No storms ahead. Ignore the hurricane warnings and go on a cruise!
Forget it. The American dream is a fantasy. Your adult kids suffer and struggle to survive.
There may be moments of reprieve, but your mother-heart (or father-heart, as the case may be) continues to persevere in prayer. Ideally, you “cast every care upon the Lord.” But who really rests in faith when it comes to those you love? A precious few.
I graduated from young mother to middle-aged mom and now grandmother. It’s no picnic. My oldest daughter suffers horribly with chronic pain and lives with an IV in her arm. I beseech the Lord every day for her to keep her food down.
My youngest has struggled with bipolar disorder since she was 13. She has her own share of serious physical and emotional challenges.
One child was raped, one was beaten, one was shot, and my firstborn is dead. By God’s grace, I have two beautiful step-granddaughters. Neither of my girls can have children.
You see, your babies are always your babies. You have a choice. There comes a time when you are too old and tired to shield them like you did when they tried to stick a bobby pin in a light socket. You don’t always live nearby. You can’t always be available when they call.
It hurts. Deeply.
Let go of the reins. Believe that God is in control.
Somehow, somewhere along the way, you have to stop. As cruel and impossible as it sounds, you have to release your children and grandchildren to God.
Three Bible mothers have taught me how to trust my grown kids to God. One taught me commitment, one taught me conniving, and one taught me perseverance.
Hannah, the mother of Samuel, gave her son to God before he was born.
She was barren for many years, while her husband’s second wife bore a tent full of children. Hannah was devastated. She grieved before God and tearfully begged Him to give her a son:
Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord...” –
God miraculously answered the prayer of this childless woman. Hannah never wavered. She gave her son to God. Literally. Could you drop your child on the church doorstop to be raised by an elderly pastor?
But Hannah obeyed. She kept her vow. And Samuel, her son, became one of the greatest prophets in Israel’s history. While his peers drew camels with crayons and sipped on their juice boxes, little Samuel prophesied words of judgment and destruction to Eli the priest. A tough gig for a preschooler!
Samuel’s life as a prophet was never easy. He had to depose Saul, the king he proudly anointed, because of Saul’s arrogance and disobedience. Heartbreaking! I’m sure Hannah wept for Samuel often, but God honored her faithfulness to “let go and let God.”
Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, didn’t trust her sons to the will of Jehovah. Hers is a cautionary tale.
First, she favored one son over the other. Jacob, the younger son, skinned sheep and swept the tent with Mommy. Esau, the older son, hunted big game with Dad. Rebekah clearly favored Jacob over Esau. Great parenting, right? She only wanted what was best for her boys (so she said). Rebekah convinced her domesticated younger son Jacob to surreptitiously steal Esau’s birthright. What’s a birthright? The firstborn son assumed the father’s authority and responsibilities, and twice the inheritance of the younger children. (In Jacob’s defense, Esau traded his birthright for bean soup two chapters earlier).
Rebekah’s sneaky plan was elaborate. Isaac, her husband, grew old and blind. Esau expected his birthright and blessing from his father. But Rebekah coveted her husband’s blessings for her younger son, Jacob. This was her elaborate scheme:
Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Listen. I overheard your father say to Esau, ‘Bring me some wild game and prepare me a delicious meal. Then I will bless you in the Lord’s presence before I die.’ Now, my son, listen to me. Do exactly as I tell you. Go out to the flocks, and bring me two fine young goats. I’ll use them to prepare your father’s favorite dish. Then take the food to your father so he can eat it and bless you before he dies.” –
The trap was set. Esau, the older son, went on a hunt. Rebekah cooked spicy, delicious goat chili. She coached Jacob on how to deceive her blind hubby, Isaac. Let’s just say the plan included an elaborate, hairy disguise, musky after-shave and a voice change.
Isaac blessed his younger son. Jacob stole the birthright, and the rest is history. But I’ve always wondered if Rebekah had not interfered, God might have carried out his plans for “the elder to serve the younger” in a more peaceful way. Esau and Jacob missed twenty years of family life together.
How many nosy parents hinder the well-being of their kid’s families? Of their son’s (and daughter’s) marriages? Yes, I’m speaking to you, intrusive mothers-in-law!
I don’t want to be Rebekah. I want to be Mary.
Mary, Jesus’ mom, is the role model that most inspires me.
Mary learned of her son’s impending suffering and death at his baby dedication:
Simeon the prophet blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, ‘This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.’ –
How did Mary respond to Simeon’s terrifying prediction? She had heard the angel’s song, felt the Bethlehem star’s glow and enjoyed the wise men’s gifts. This new revelation was probably shocking. Mary expected “salvation” to include kingship, not suffering and death.
Twelve-year-old Jesus disappeared in Jerusalem for three days. He was supposed to be returning home in the caravan with his relatives. Jesus was nowhere to be found. Joseph and Mary frantically searched for him. They placed his photo on a goat’s milk carton.
Three days later they (Mary and Joseph) finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”
“But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he meant.
Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart. –Luke 2:46-51 NLT
Mary probably mused that, for a few years, Jesus would actually have a normal childhood. Instead, the young teen knew He had a heavenly Father and a Divine purpose. Mary didn’t panic. She pondered. And she prayed.
Don’t get me wrong. Mary wasn’t the perfect mom. Jesus attended the wedding feast at Cana and Mary got antsy. When would her miracle-boy start to show His Divine gifts by turning water into wine? Many hometown critics probably whispered about his dubious “virgin birth.” That stigma followed Mary her whole life.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.”
We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself. –
The passage goes on to state that the Jewish leaders called Christ a Samaritan, demon-possessed, and worthy of death. He refuted their accusations by claiming to be Yahweh, the eternal God. Then the religious leaders, hopping mad, picked up stones to kill Him for blasphemy.
Mary heard the insults, the threats and the Pharisees’ plots to entrap Jesus.
She had to be silent, pray and wait. I can’t imagine such faith and patience.
Finally, she faced her ultimate fear. She had to watch her Son flogged, mocked, and brutally murdered. His blood, mixed with her tears, drenched the scorched earth. Every mother fears losing a child. But to watch the suffering and death of a Son? Who could endure such agony?
Only a mother of great faith. She trusted in God, even to raise her Son from the dead.
These Bible mothers humble me! I fear I’m more like Rebekah than Mary and Hannah.
So I learn to wait…hold onto God’s promises…and pray. And pray. And pray. And take a deep breath when I want to panic. God loves my kids (and grandkids) more than I. And I shall love them ‘til I die!
Dr. Julie Barrier, along with her pastor-husband, Dr. Roger Barrier, have taught conferences on marriage and ministry in 35 countries. The Barriers are founders and directors of Preach It, Teach It, providing free resources in 10 languages to 5 million visitors in 229 countries. The Barriers pastored 35 years at Casas Church in Arizona, Julie has served as a worship minister, concert artist and adjunct professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. She has authored or composed of over 500 published works.
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