Sometimes the phrase “… and it came to pass” can be one of our favorite Bible verses… An anchor to our souls when our worlds aren’t how we would prefer.
But sometimes these words can be a solemn reminder that nothing lasts forever, and that this “whatever” we are in at the moment will, in just a matter of moments, becomes a memory. And if it’s something good that we are in at the moment, these words can be a call to store up every treasure of the present in our hearts and minds.
I find myself thinking a lot about this lately. With a high school senior this year and one next year, we are experiencing a lot of the beginnings of the end of life as we know it. (However, at least one mom a week tells me that the best is yet to come, empty nest is glorious, etc.)
These “beginning-of-the-end-of-life-as-we-know-it” thoughts aren’t new and certainly aren’t unique to me. They’ve been pondered by probably 99.999999999% of parents worldwide for centuries as they watch their toddlers become teenagers and their babies turn into young men and women.
Though Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 1:9 are comforting, (“Everything that happens has happened before; nothing is new, nothing under the sun.” ) for each one of us and for each of our children, this letting go becomes a new thing over and over again.
As I type this, Isaiah 43:19 pops into my head. I learned it recently from the New Living Translation and love how it is worded as it reminds us that this “new thing” is nothing to dread:
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
“The wilderness” and “the dry wasteland” can definitely describe the heart pathway of a parent learning to let go, especially for the first-time or first child. What a comfort it is that God has already cleared the trail through this, in His Strength, and for His Good glory as His “new things” unfold.
Tonight, our son’s football team plays in round 2 of the state playoffs. We won last week’s game on our home field, and I couldn’t help but wonder if that was the last home game they would play. If we win tonight, we could play at home next week, but there’s no guarantee.
There are times in my children’s lives when I have known that “this is the last _____”… The last day of preschool, the last day of kindergarten, elementary school, and junior high. Even the last day I nursed them & the last day they drank from a bottle or slept in their baby beds, I stored up those lasts in my heart to last my lifetime. But there are other lasts that I didn’t realize were lasts until said last became a thing of the past…a treasured memory I didn’t even know to treasure at the time.
As I sat in the stands and looked around at the other parents – some who were in the same situation we were in… some who had done this years ago… and some who’s years would come – I determined to soak in every moment of this possible “last time.” I looked down from the top of the bleachers at all of those boys dressed in back and gold, fixed my eyes on my son, and asked God to help me bottle the moment. His “Thor-like” hair was flowing from his helmet and covering up some of his name on the back of his jersey. He was swaying back and forth in the same rhythm and stance that has marked him on the sidelines for all of his football-playing days. And when he ran out onto the field, instead of talking to my friends in the stands as I usually do (I like sports mainly for the fellowship in the stands – haha), I followed every move, praying for him as he played. And I took pictures. Lots of them. Just in case this was a true “last.” It wasn’t, so I will repeat the process of soaking and bottling tonight… making sure I won’t miss a moment.
My current motto is “Engage in this moment.” I keep it written on a chalkboard in our den because I don’t want to be so focused on what was, and what is to come, that I miss what is right now.
With the Lord’s help, I want to hold on to today as long as it’s today and treasure all of these things in my heart. Because this, too, shall pass… a new thing will come… And I don’t want to regret missing any of it!
“So you’ll end up heading out…. Heading out down some back roads and long roads and roads I’d never pick for you and I wished I’d lived more backwards, backwards from the knowing that ends really do come.” Ann Voscamp