When we brought our first born, Caleb, home from the hospital he slept in a bassinet right next to our bed. The first night I slept with my hand on his back and woke to every baby gurgle and and mew. After about three weeks we moved the bassinet to the hallway. Then about a month later we moved him to his crib in his own room. As he grew up and learned there was much more letting go, his first time in the chruch nursery, his first day of school, the first time he swam on his own….
I remember especially teaching Caleb how to ride a bike. We had a nice flat, grassy front yard and instead of the sidewalk or the street I had him try to ride on the grass so if he fell he would have a soft landing. Believe it or not this worked pretty well. If you can ride on the bumpy grass you can ride just about anywhere! But still, he never would have learned to ride if I had continued to run behind him holding on to the seat of the bike. I had to let go.
I tried to my best to protect him from hurt but it wasn’t long before I realized that bumps, bruises and pain were a part of his growing and to love him right I had to be willing to let go.
At age 22 Caleb got in his little red Honda Civic with a backseat full of comic books and drove to L.A. I prayed voraciously for him every day, many times a day, that God would keep him safe, that he’d find fellowship and encouragement, that he’d have a decent place to live and enough to eat. And in my prayers each night I had to place him gently in God’s hands and let go of him again.
At any point along the way I could have at least tried to stop him from taking the next step in his life but I deep down I knew that if I wanted him to be happy I had to trust God with him and let go.
And in thinking about this it occurs to me that what God calls us to do most often in this life is to let go of what is most precious to us and give it to Him. The things we are most tempted to hold on to tightly are the very things that we need most to give over to him…our marriages, our children and grand children, our health, our friends…the very things we want so desparately to hold on to, with all of our might, are the very things that we need to put in the safest place of all…God’s strong, loving, kind hands. We don’t need to keep our
grimy little hands on them either, we need to really, completely, unreservedly let go.
Do not lay a hand on the boy, He said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” —Genesis 22:12
Painting byRobin Prince Monroe