I just read a friend's post on her blog, and it immediately touched on something deep inside me. Something I deal with every day. She asks, how do you trust God to take care of that which is most precious in your life? To keep them safe when you can't? Because none of us are guaranteed safety for ourselves or our children. We are not guaranteed even one more day without sickness, pain, separation from each other or even death. In an instant our lives can be turned upside down. Just because I am a believer doesn't make me immune to any of these horrible things. So how do I trust God to take care of them – to keep them safe – when I know that might not happen? Every morning when I leave for work, I touch both of my sleeping children. Stroke their hair, their cheeks. Kiss them goodbye. Soak them up. I take my time because even as I beg God to bring us all back together in that same spot at the end of the day, I know deep down that might not happen. Most likely it will, but still, it might not. So I try to make every goodbye count. To remember what they feel like.
I can't even bear the thought of my children being taken from me by an accident or illness - or by any other definition, which is a nightmare all it's own. Yet, I do not believe God means for us to live in fear. Neither do I think that He means for us to take even one precious day together for granted. I know in my heart that if they departed this earth, they would instantaneously be in the arms of Jesus, and there is no safer place.
But they wouldn't be with me.
So every day I ask for God's protection for our family and plead for His mercy - mercy that will actually bring that protection. I know it exists because I have already experienced it numerous times with my children. Times when I know He was the only thing that stood in the gap between them and something horrible. What about other mothers – friends – who have begged for this same mercy without receiving it? When will it be my turn?
The other day I was talking to my own mother and asked her when you get to stop worrying about your children. I already knew the answer. Never. Not when they're young and vulnerable. Not when they're older and driving and out late with friends. Certainly not when they're off at college, and not when they're grown and have their own families. Never. It's the curse of being a mother. How do I give that to God? How do I muster the strength to give them over to Him every single day? To entrust them to Him even when I know that doesn't guarantee they'll always be safe? My mother told me when we leave their house, she prays for God to send angels to protect us and envisions them covering every inch of our car and clearing a safe path ahead of it. She still prays for me. Now she also prays for my children.
I am a person of faith. I have faith that God knows what is to come - today, tomorrow, for the rest of our lives. He knows everything that will happen to us, and what will finally end our lives and when. Nothing surprises Him. And He has only the best for me and the ones I love most. Nothing is going to happen to me or my precious family that He does not allow. There is comfort in that somehow. Also in knowing that when the horrible happens, we aren't left to try to pick up the pieces alone. And that ultimately something good will come from it. Something of eternal significance and greater purpose - one that I might not get to understand.
It's dawned on me as I write this that these children belong to God more than they belong to me. They are my flesh and blood, but they are His creation. And I'm also reminded that He once watched His own child being beaten and nailed to a cross – a horrifying, painful, slow death.
And Jesus' mother was there too.
What did her cries for mercy sound like?