Saturday, February 21, 2009

Handprints on the Window

Both of my sons, now grown, were “day-care babies” since the age of 6 weeks. Necessarily a working mom as a single parent for most of their early-childhoods, I would drop them at the center or the babysitter as early as 6:30 or 7:00 a.m., and not return to pick them up until 6:00 p.m. or later. More often than not, they were the first children to arrive and the last to leave. It broke my heart daily, but I learned in the process that God gives his children an extra measure of grace in the midst of the more difficult circumstances of their lives.

I learned many other lessons during those first years as well, although the message was not always immediately clear. Yet every day, I found renewed strength to be both mother and father, breadwinner and caretaker, nurse, teacher, taxi driver, cheerleader and disciplinarian, and all of the other roles a woman fulfills in the lives of her children. I learned to trust God for that strength, for many days and nights I went to bed and woke up weary, uncertain of just how or when our needs would be met, but always assured of His faithfulness to meet them.

Still today, when I have a tendency to doubt or to try too hard to direct the course of my own life, God tenderly brings those early years to my remembrance, to renew my faith and to encourage my heart. He used one of those such childhood images recently to vividly illustrate to me His desire that I come to Him with the faith of a child. For as I sat lunching with a dear sister in the Lord the other day, recounting all of my difficulities with my health, our schedules, our one-car-ness, and fears of the economic downturn, I suddenly recalled the faces of my little children at the daycare center 20 years ago, especially Aaron, my youngest, who at the age of two had great difficulty adjusting to my leaving him.

Although Aaron would cry and wiggle when I dropped him off, I knew it was momentary since I regularly waited in the hall for a few moments until his tirades ceased. Yet, every day for what seemed a very long time, as I returned to pick him up, I would find him with his hands and nose pressed hard against the daycare’s window, earnestly watching and waiting for me to appear, totally immune to his surroundings. All of the play and activities and children behind and around him did not interest him as he seemed to desperately hold on to the windowpane, as if letting go would somehow prevent my coming. It was only when I walked through the door that he would release his lifegrip on the glass. As vivacious and precocious as Aaron was, it saddened me to think he had missed out on all of the other activities of the day and the fellowship of his playmates that he might otherwise have been enjoying in order to keep his solitary vigil for me.

Then, slowly, as the days and weeks passed, I began to notice that Aaron wasn’t always at the window when I arrived. Sometimes, he would be just near enough to either hear my car or see me out of the corner of his eye, and sometimes he would not notice my coming at all until I walked through the door. Eventually, though, I would daily find him well-immersed in his total daycare experience, and I realized that at last he had complete confidence that I had not left him alone and that I would, indeed, return to pick him up.

So it is with our Lord, Jesus. From the very day that God places us in this world, he leaves us in the care of others: our parents, our teachers, our families, our friends, and ourselves. Yet, He has not left us, and He promises to return for us. His Word says that he has left His children another Comforter:

16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
John 14:16 (King James Version)

Jesus did not leave His children abandoned, as orphans to fend for themselves. Instead, He sent another Comforter, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, one with Christ and one with the Father, to be our guide, comforter, advocate, counselor. Similarly, as I left my children in the care of others for a short while, those teachers and caregivers were all those things to my sons while I was away and until I returned for them. Over and over every day, my children learned to look to their daycare providers to meet their needs and to teach them. They learned to trust and depend upon them in my physical absence. And, they learned to rest in the assurance that even though they could not be with me physically, I was still with them and I would absolutely return for them.

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
John 14:1-3 (King James Version)

My children soon learned they did not have to be afraid; they knew I would come back and pick them up. They were able to participate in whatever the day held for them because they could rest in that assurance. God has promised His children that He, too, will return for them, to receive His sons and His daughters to Himself, and that they will live with Him forever. As children of God, we need not doubt. God is trustworthy, and we can rest in this assurance, regardless of our circumstances, our emotions, or the state of the world.

At my luncheon yesterday, God really wanted to drive this lesson home; the lesson about the faith of a child: the pure faith that allows him to giggle and play even though he does not have the means on his own to provide for himself and cannot understand all that is happening around him. That child is secure in the trust that he’ll be fed, clothed, and cared for, protected against harm, cherished and loved. He doesn’t have to press his hands and nose against the glass waiting for rescue with bated breath. Just as I longed for my children to enjoy and engage in their everyday activities while I was away, so God wants his children to work, and play, and minister while we are on this earth.

I have been in a holding pattern for nearly a year, on a shelf, so to speak, wondering what God has for me next, without a specific ministry for the first time in 20 years, without a full-time job, and often alone with my children grown and my husband on the road. It has been trying, at the very least, and I have been pleading with God for answers. Now I see that his answer is, “Wait, daughter, with the faith of a child.” He does not want to see me, his beloved child, with clinched fists holding on for dear life, anxious and paralzyed with worry or fear. No, he wants me to enjoy this season of waiting, and to get as much out of it as I possibly can. He wants it to be a season of refreshing, a time for my health to be restored, a time to pursue other interests long abandoned for the responsibilities of raising a family, a time for spiritual renewal through Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers, and a time for personal growth.

None of that can happen if I’m stuck with my nose and hands pressed against the windowpane. With the faith of a child, I will do well to remember that God has a plan for my life, a plan for good and not for evil, a plan with a future and a hope. My medical problems did not confuse Him; He didn’t run out of resources when my job ended; and He was not taken aback by the state of the economy or of the world. Jesus has given me the Holy Spirit to guide, comfort, and teach me, and He will come for me again.

3 And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and
become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3 (New International Version)

1 comment:

Junosmom said...

wonderful post, Robin. I look forward to hearing what you do with this time you are given. And if you are alone, you are not really alone, you know. But if you should need some human company, you could come visit a cousin (who is also follows your blog!).