I crossed a threshold in my life as a mother a few weeks ago. It was a moment filled at once with expectation at the adventure that lies ahead, and sorrow over what is understandably lost.
The moment came as I made the long journey from Philadelphia to Raleigh, NC to launch my first-born into “real life.” Like the signs that warn of “Severe Tire Damage” if you attempt to reverse out of the direction in which you are traveling, there is no backing out now. The bird has left the nest, and there will be no flying back in.
I often hear people say at this stage of life, “I can’t believe how fast it went!” I honestly can’t say that it went fast. None of it went fast. I took it slow, and so, for me, it all went slow, real slow.
Long moments with the unborn baby inside, pondering the mystery of the life growing within me. Daily walks in the park, rain or shine, with the baby in the pram, nestled warm and dry. Frequent visits to the firehouse or the library, hand in hand with the boy as he skipped up and down the curb, as though we had all the time in the world to explore together. Endless hours pitching baseballs, kicking soccer balls, and swimming in the pool together, because (did I mention it?) the boy has boundless energy.
There were countless trips to the pediatrician for the chronic ear infections, the runny noses, the surgery and the stiches. There were hours upon hours of bedtime stories and homework help and lingering conversations around the dinner table. There were sports practices and games, baseball and soccer tournaments near and far. There was laughter. There were tears. There were late-night snacks for two that inevitably gave way to the best and most important talks between a mother and her dearly loved son.
It didn’t go fast; it went full.
It went full throttle and I didn’t miss a thing. And I am so very grateful.
But now, as I stand with my nest a little less full than I would like, a heaviness descends upon my heart. It’s not just the heaviness of a heart that aches for my precious one to be with me still. It is also the heaviness of uncertainty. Have I taught him everything he needs to know? How will he be guided in life’s major decisions? Who will take my place and love and care for my son?
And God speaks to me, reminding me that His promises in scripture apply not just to me, but also to my precious son. If His eye is on the sparrow, then certainly His eye is on my son and He will care for him. He reminds me that His love for my son far surpasses my own love for him. He reminds me that my son is first and foremost His son, and that it was God after all who entrusted him to my care 22 years ago.
He reminds me that He has a wondrous plan for my child. “For I know the plans I have for your child,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper him and not to harm him, plans to give him hope and a future.” He has a plan for my child, as surely as He has a plan for me, and I can rest in that assurance.
He reminds me how much He loves and cares for my son and that each and every promise I find in scripture applies not just to me but to everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. In confidence I can lean on God’s words from Isaiah 43:
Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed your son.
I’ve called his name. He is mine.
When he’s in over his head, I’ll be there with him.
When he’s in rough waters, he will not go down.
When he’s between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, his personal God,
The Holy of Israel, his Savior.
I paid a huge price for him:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much he means to me!
That’s how much I love him!
I’d sell off the whole world to get him back,
trade the creation just for him.
I look around me and take one final inventory of the room that has now become my son’s bedroom in his new home. We accomplished much in 24 short hours. I blow out the candle and place my love letter to him on his pillow. I shut out the light and gently close the door. My work here is done.
The invitation is the same as it ever was. To choose trust over worry. To believe that God’s love never fails. To rest in the unfailing arms of the One who has His eye on my sparrow.