One of my daughters used to come to me as a toddler and say, “In the air, Daddy, in the air!” She wanted me to hurl her up and catch her. I did so to her utter delight. My other daughter saw this and asked me to toss her too. Yet as she leveled off, her face contorted into sheer terror.
(Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom)
When I caught her, she clung to me with all four limbs and begged, “No, not again!”
Later I considered why the same flight gave joy to one and terrorized the other.
- One focused on my ability to catch her.
- The other focused on her inability to control the flight.
We do the same thing with God.
God Does the Tossing
As my daughters become young women, I find myself in a similar situation. I still see them hurled in the air, but instead of me doing the tossing and catching, God the Father flings them while I helplessly watch from a distance.
In those moments I become acutely aware of the struggle between my confidence in the Lord’s ability versus my own.
Every parent faces this tension.
- We want our children to follow Christ, but we hesitate to let Him lead them.
- We want to provide, protect, and direct our children so that they will receive the good we desire for them.
- In a strange irony, the very love that wants the best for them becomes the barrier that keeps our children from receiving it.
Jacob faced a similar challenge. In the midst of a famine, he sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain. But one son he refused to send:
Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others because he was afraid that harm might come to him. —Genesis 42:4
The Lord’s sovereign orchestration of events wrenched Benjamin from Jacob’s arms and forced him to do what he would never do otherwise: trust God with his sons.
(Photo: God used grain to get Jacob to release his son. Photo by Go2anna (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons)
From this we learn we can hold nothing—not even a child—more dear than our trust in God.
- If we really trust God, we will rest in the assurance that our sons and daughters remain as safe in harm’s way as in their beds at home.
- On the other hand, if the Father allows our children to go before us to heaven, no amount of protection will prevent such circumstances.
- We will seldom experience the peace we seek without surrendering to the Lord that for which we pray.
- Ultimately our comfort cannot come from the assurance that the Lord will protect our children, ironic as it sounds. Our comfort comes when we trust God who remains in complete control and who will accomplish His good purposes even in the worst circumstances.
I confess these principles come easier to write than to do. As I watch God toss my daughters in the air, I tend to focus on my inability to control the flight instead of the Father’s ability to catch them. In this I find a gnawing conviction that I would rather feel in control than to trust God to guard and guide the future of my daughters.
Trusting God with the Flight
Such is the challenge of all believing parents. Our love for our children grows to resemble the Lord’s love for them when we trust God and allow Him to lead them as He chooses.
God’s sovereignty demands our surrender, yes.
But as we surrender and trust God, we bow not in an admission of defeat, but in an act of worship.
Adapted from Wayne Stiles, “In Good Hands,” (Kindred Spirit: Fall 2006 vol. 30, no. 3)