Friday, July 4, 2014

New Beginnings, Shaky Steps

Things look very different in our house these days.

My oldest daughter graduated last week, the same day my youngest got her first job. I feel old.

But proud :)

It got me thinking about how much life is changing and wondering if we are ready. Soon our active household of five will be four with an empty chair at meals. Then ten short months after that we will be able to reduce our kitchen table to a small nook - just enough room for three.

Life changes on us, doesn't it.

At the present time there is an RV parked in our yard. It isn't ours. It belongs to a couple from our church who are facing a life change too. They'll stay there a few days longer -- a little hesitant to say goodbye to what was and also a little excited to find out what lies ahead. But so many questions are churning.

Much like us.

I am the kind of person who likes change - well, as long as I had some say in it. So as my oldest daughter prepares to pack up her room and squeeze it into an enlarged closet called a dorm room, I am excited for her. And for us. Yet, I'm getting a little weepy as I write this and I can guarantee on the day we wave her off I will be as well, BUT I am not distraught. I am hopeful.

But let me call it hope that has been worked for.

Often when we
face changes like graduation, moves, new jobs, etc there has been some preparation behind it. We have worked days, months or even years to bring about the change we are about to face. These aren't sudden changes in our lives like the loss of a job or a loved one. We aren't facing changes that will uproot our family and make it unstable. Thankfully.

This hope we have has been a slow brew of lessons learned, corrections given, quick uttered prayers for safety and long, anguished prayers for guidance. It has been seasoned with days of joy and days of tears; grace given and grace withheld - all bringing us to this moment.

Have we done enough as parents?
Does she know what to do when ...?
What if ... this ... or that happens? Or doesn't happen?

Questions are natural. But are fear and doubt? 

I have been reading through the book of Isaiah lately. I am doing a side by side study of it between my study bible and The Message. It has been a very enlightening experience. I came across a section a few days back while we were knee-deep in the busy-ness of grad. At first it didn't appear relevant to my present situation but a few words from The Message have percolated in my mind. 

I am not a bible scholar and it is never my intention to take scripture out of context but I believe God has used the words I read to settle so many of the questions in my mind. 

In Isaiah, chapter seven King Ahaz of Judah is worried, stressed and basically panicked as two armies have joined forces and are talking smack. God sends a message through Isaiah to calm his fears.
"It won't happen. Nothing will come of it." (The Message)
Then Isaiah says at the end of verse nine,
"If you don't take your stand in faith, you won't have a leg to stand on." (The Message).
Did you hear that? It took me a few days but I heard it. It's a message given through Isaiah to a king of old, but it was whispered to me. To you. "If you don't take your stand in faith, you won't have a leg to stand on."

In our eighteen years of preparation for this life change we infused as much faith as we could into our daughter. Maybe not as much as we should have or wished we'd done, but nonetheless we did it. We used our faith to walk us through our parenting challenges when she was in elementary school and struggled to learn to read. We used our faith to strengthen her faith when we moved twice in two years and she entered junior high with no friends. Again we leaned on our wobbly leg of faith when we watched her struggle to make her own faith matter in a sea of worldliness at a public high school. And then we tested out our hopefully strong enough faith again when we urged her to make choices about her future on her knees- then took a step back and watched.

Isaiah was right - without faith what would we have done as parents? Where would we have turned when things didn't turn out the way we wanted, or hoped for? What would we have given our daughter to take with her into the big world other than words - if we didn't give her an example of faith?

Now, here is where the roads turns suddenly to the left and we feel like we are heading in the wrong direction for awhile. These particular scriptures are speaking of an upcoming disaster - a possible annihilation of Judah. When God sends the words through Isaiah - "it won't happen. Nothing will come of it", He isn't saying it will be a bed of roses. In fact, King Ahaz is afraid of losing his kingdom and his people being hurt and destroyed and this DOES happen in the years to come. But it doesn't happen the way Ahaz thought and feared.

Things will go wrong for my daughter somewhere along the line. I need to accept this. No matter all the pearls of wisdom I've given her

  • Don't lie, cheat or steal
  • Be kind to everyone you meet
  • Always lend a helping hand
  • Don't hang around bad company
  • Save sex for marriage
  • Be wise about your body - making good choices around drinking, smoking and drugs
On and on my list would go. I know she knows these things. Yet, I worry. What if? What if? What if?

God is saying to me this: don't fear those things. Sometimes it is "those things" I use to bring about my perfect will. Fear me. Have faith in me. Because of your faith I promise to always leave you standing - no matter what storm you must ride out first.

Change can bring fears, worries and doubts to the surface. That is inevitable. But Matthew 6:25 reminds us what Isaiah is teaching - do not worry, have faith. Stand with God.

So whether you are facing a big change like a child graduating and moving away or you are parked in someone's yard awaiting the next instructions remember, "if you don't take your stand in faith, you won't have a leg to stand on."

So, raise your glass with me and toast to the grads of 2014:
"Here's to standing!"
You go girl!


  1. Thanks for this encouragement Jodi! I've been feeling really inadequate lately...not sure I'm doing I needed to hear this:)

    1. And I know inadequacy intimately. God has been showing me over the last few years how that is the loud colour commentator, Satan, in my life. God tells us Heidi that we are enough because we are His. It's our job to believe it. (and that's the hard part.)
      Praying for you and with you my Friend.