The previous two years had been brutal. I’d survived the dying and death of my husband and both parents. Watched each one draw their last breath. Coped with my only child leaving for college. Processed mountains of paperwork, and had my fill of cleaning out others’ “stuff.” Whew! That I was still functioning was a tribute to the grace of God, therapy, and wonderful friends.
What else could happen? (Don’t ever ask that question. Advice from Job and Joby. I mean Jody.)
My view of motherhood has always been to see it as a form of stewardship. I never believed that my daughter was “mine.” Believing that God was her creator, I saw my child as a precious gift entrusted to me for a season. Having that mindset for the first 20 years of her life definitely helped allay my fears. That was, until January 2012.
Along with 60,000 other 18-25 year olds, my daughter was attending the Passion Conference in Atlanta. I love the focus of the Passion movement on making Jesus known to college aged kids. The conference was three days of great worship and solid teaching. What could be better for a college freshman?
A warning to parents: be careful what you pray over the years! Those prayers might be answered in unexpected ways. Since Anne’s earliest days, I had prayed that she would have a passion for Jesus. That He would be her first love, and that her faith would be authentic and vibrant.
God definitely answered that prayer. Her faith was vibrant, all right. My expectation was that her strong faith would lead her to make wise choices throughout college. That she would not become a wild party animal or abandon her faith while away at school. I was thinking SAFE.
I wasn’t expecting my prayers to be answered in the form of : “Mom, I want to take some time off from school and volunteer at an orphanage in Uganda.” She felt this calling in the midst of the Passion Conference while watching a choir of joyful faces from a Ugandan orphanage.
Uganda? The home of Ida Amin and Joseph Kony? The place that had cases of Ebola and warnings from the State Department about potential terrorist attacks? Yup, that place.
My wrestling match with God began. “She’s all I’ve got left, Lord. How could this calling be from you?” “What if she gets sick? How will she get the medical care she needs?” “What if I get sick? Who will even care about me?” My emotions included anger, denial, fear, more fear, abandonment, desperation, fear, helplessness, and isolation. That’s just to name a few. Did I mention fear?
I prayed and prayed some more. I sought counsel. Most of my friends said “are you kidding?” (Most were probably really thinking “Are you crazy?” ) I tried talking Anne out of this idea with every logical argument I could think of. But she was resolute.
She was sure God had called her to do this. So sure that she was willing to miss football season at the University of Georgia. That’s how I knew the calling had to be real! Anne is pursuing a career in sports communication and football is her favorite sport. Her willingness to miss football season was huge.
You see, I had put God in a little box, and expected Him to answer my prayers by keeping my child safe. But as Mr. Beaver said about Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
It was the hardest “yes” I’ve ever said to God. But probably one of the best, for many, many reasons.
Are you facing a difficult “yes,” especially as it relates to your child? Does it require a huge step of faith? Keep praying. And remember, the King is good. No, He is not safe…but He can be trusted, even…no, especially…with our children.
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