Like the scary part of a city, there are topics my brain avoids thinking about. Or maybe it is my heart avoiding things. Too scary, too many unwanted emotions.
Losing a child is one of those topics.
As a devout Christian I know my children are a gift from the Lord. They belong to Him and are treasures to care for, but not to own. I can neither control the breaths that pass from their lungs or the beating of their hearts, God numbers our days (Job 14:5).
Since I do everything I can to not think about trusting God with the lives of my children, it took a sweet lady picking blueberries next to me to bring up the subject. I knew this woman from my former church. A decade had passed since I talked with her last, but she talked with ease and grace. Jesus' peace emanated from her and I found myself smiling as she chatted about her life and asking about mine. She delighted in my children and remembered fondly the days when her 5 children were young.
As we talked, she mentioned 3 children, not 5.
"Where are your other 2 children?" I asked naively.
"With the Lord dear. Our God is so good. He allowed us to have them for a time and those moments were so precious." She told me that one of her daughters died at age 17 from a terrible illness and another daughter died in middle-age from a painful disease.
I left the blueberry patch, the scary topic I avoided was swirling relentlessly through my mind.
Could I trust God's goodness like that? Did I want to? I felt as though my vigilant worry over my children belonged to me -- the right of a mother. My heart argued with this new idea. How to trust God with my children's lives.
I shared lunch with my husband the same day and I told him about my
I got ready to leave and go to our home about 4 miles away from the main farm. I gathered the precious children who consumed my thoughts. One, two..... where is three? I searched the farm yard yelling her name for a few minutes. My father-in-law joined the search, then I made frantic calls on my cell phone to everyone else working in the area. "Have you seen her? Where is she?"
Absolute panic mounted as the minutes passed. Did she go on the road? Is she hurt? Did someone take her? The prayers whirled franticly. "Jesus no! Don't take her. Let us find her safe. I can't live without her. Jesus no. Jesus no. Jesus no." There were no thoughts about trust. No peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). Just carnal fear that I was completely out of control and needed my little girl.
It was less than 15 minutes until we found her. She was standing in our driveway, 4 miles away from where we last saw her, next to a stranger's car. A 6 year-old's impetuous decision to walk home led a mother of 2 girls to stop on the side of the road and offer her a ride.... just as she saw a man in a pick-up stopping from the other direction. The understanding woman said it just didn't seem right and she was frightened for my little girl's safety.
My hysteria took quite awhile to calm. My girl in my arms, our angel stranger thanked and hugged, I finally realized I was a million miles away from trusting God with the lives of my children.
"How do I trust you?" I asked a benevolent Heavenly Father. Where was the peace and trust the older woman who spoke of while picking blueberries? I didn't have it. I knew that for sure.
Probably 40 or 50 decades older than me, this woman had not come to her resolutions in an instant. She probably had moments of panic and desperation as she saw not only one, but two of her children suffer and then die. Her doubts were comforted by the loving arms of a Savior. In her long life, God taught her, molded her, and guided.
I realized many things on the day when my daughter was lost. First, that I am not in control, even when I've taken every step to lectured ad naseum about stranger-danger, given my children swimming lessons, bubble-wrapped the coffee table corners, provided carseats, and driven under the speed limit since they were born. My vigilance is useful, but not omniscient.
And secondly, trusting in God for my children is a daily decision.
I no longer avoid the tumulus topic of trusting God my most precious little ones. When my thoughts wander there, when my heart threatens to seize up in its normal controlling nature, I thank God for His goodness. I thank God for the treasured blessings He has given me to raise. I also pray for my lack of faith. I need help learning to trust. This is daily, moment to moment. Trust and growth, "Help me Lord. Help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).
A friend just gave me Mary Beth Chapman's book, Choosing To See. On my journey to embracing God's goodness and trusting Him with everything, including the lives of my children, I know this book will be inspirational -- I'm on page 5!