Heartlight Special Feature

Letting Go, by Karen Alexander
My sonleft home last fall. He moved out of the house and into a dorm at Abilene Christian University. It was not until a few months later that I truly understood. We had not lost control; we had never really had control.
      Shane was always a strong-willed child. The jacket of James Dobson’s book by that name seemed to describe our little boy to a tee. From birth—literally in the delivery room—I had marveled at this small being’s individuality. Shane wanted what Shane wanted…all of the time. All who knew him could see it. The cradle roll teachers, the baby sitters, the elder and his wife who sat behind us in church all knew that our Shane was not only full of life, he was also brimming with individuality. He had such a colorful personality we began to call him Rainbow, Shanebeau Rainbeau, as one friend began spelling it. Looking back, he was one of those energetic little boys adults either enjoy from afar or  “tsk” about in the mother’s hearing. As Shane’s mother, I received my fair share of disapproving looks and lectures and pats on the back..  “This child will be a leader,” I told my husband,  “either in the church or in the streets.” Please God, not in the streets, I prayed.
      The early school years were filled with both achievement and mischief. Smart, fun- loving, and occasionally just downright difficult, Shane charged through life. As we raced to keep up, my husband found humor helped his own perspective as he encouraged me to leave my fear far enough behind to smell the roses along the way. I had never expected motherhood to be so arduous. For the first time in my life, I found a task at which I feared I could not excel. So I prayed and just did my best. Yet all along the way, I wondered if I would finish  “raising Shane” before the time came for him to leave home. Could I complete this job the Lord had given me? The answer, of course, was  “no”… and  “yes.” No, I could not finish raising Shane. Yes, I could complete my mission. The positive answer required only that I define that mission..
      In John 17.4, Jesus prayed,  “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” According to John, Jesus’ last words on the cross confirmed that belief.  “It is finished,” he said. (John 19.30). Yet, poignant scenes between the Savior and his  “friends” during their last hours together in the upper room offer Christians perspective regarding parenting.

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.”
—John 16.12-15

From thistext, Christian parents should note that Jesus himself was not permitted to  “finish raising” those he had been instructed to train. When he left them, he yearned for the opportunity to share with them deeper insights than they were capable of understanding. Yet, in faith, he entrusted them to the Father and His Spirit.
      Secondly, Christian parents should take comfort in recognizing that the immaturity of the disciples at the time Jesus left them did not constitute failure on the part of Christ or His mission. Perfecting the child of Christ was then—and remains today—the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit is equipped to guide individual Christians into all truth. That is His mission.
      My mission as a Christian parent is to model Christ.  “These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me,” Jesus told the disciples in John 14.24. Likewise in passage noted earlier, Jesus testifies that the Spirit would also only speak what He heard. The mission of the Christian parent is to consistently continue this tradition of passing on the  “words of the Father,” then get out of the way. The Spirit will have the last say, the finishing stroke on the canvas of identity. As a parent, none of the credit will ever be mine. If I have done my job, I have only delivered the words of another.
      The truth of this concept has become increasingly clearer to me over the last year as I have watched my son on his journey since leaving home. The Spirit is at work, and His creation is masterful and holy. The young man I see is not the product of two parents’ wisdom. I remember too well the inadequate, misdirected (though loving) efforts of two young parents, and I realize that somewhere between prayer and  “doing my best” God was in control all along.


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