By: Sarah Cates
This summer my oldest started Kindergarten. My best friend moved to Japan. We dealt with a loss in the family. I’ve had friends in relational and financial crisis. So much is going on in the lives of so many people I love, and I can’t truly be involved in it. I’m not there to help my daughter navigate classroom rules for the first time. I’m not in Japan to share a margarita with my best friend when the military loses her entire shipment of household goods. We live far away from family. I have my own, God-given top priority of my husband and my kids that means I can’t drop everything to help my mom friends who need support - and too often, I am the one who needs the support, anyway.
This summer has made me more aware than I have ever been that my people (even my children!) do not belong to me, they belong to Jesus. I am not their schoolmaster, their helper, their rescuer - Jesus is. He has and will set their curriculum - which will undoubtedly include great joy and great heartbreak. And no matter how much I want to, I cannot and should not interfere with that curriculum. The people I love are not mine, they are His. I cannot go with them always, He can. I cannot comfort them always, He can.
So if I am not to be the helper, the rescuer, who am I to be? If each of their trials will be as much a surprise to me as they are to them, if each of their growing strengths and revealed weaknesses are being cared for apart from my knowledge and involvement, what can I do? I can armor them. And I can give them rest. Each day I can catch them and help them prepare to be released back into a broken world.
I can arm them with truth. Teaching my daughter, reminding my friends, to not only know the Word of God but to wield it with wisdom as they learn about this world God has placed them in. I can remind them of who God is - and that He alone is sovereign. I can remind them of His faithfulness in times past, of His character and unchanging nature.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” -Ephesians 6:13-17
I can arm them with their unshakeable identity. Not only that they are a beloved daughter, or wife or mother, but a beloved daughter of the One True King. Their value is set, more than priceless, and nothing they do can add or subtract from it.
“Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called 'children of God'—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are.” -1 John 3:1 (Phillips)
I can give them the rest that comes from grace. A safe place to bring sin and fault and screw ups and learn repentance and how to get up and try again the next day. I can assure them that no matter what, Christ’s love does not fade, and that as they repent and seek Him, they will experience only grace and blessing.
“...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” - Romans 5:8-9
I can give them the rest of knowing that when they don’t know how, when they don’t want to or can’t - I am carrying them daily to the Cross in prayer. That I am watchful and present and pleading their case before a perfectly loving, all powerful Father.
“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is workingt.” -James 5:16
Catch. Release. Repeat. My hope is that the many people I love, know that I love them even when I cannot be with them, because I give them over to God. And my greater hope is that I will know the love of God better, because I will see how He watches over and keeps those whom I love, even when I can’t.