I didn’t want to let him go. It was too far. It was too expensive. And most of all, I would miss him way too much. And while the mother in me cried out, “Stay!” the college-kid-turned-camp-counselor in me said, “Yes! Go!” Letting go is essential for creating the learning opportunities that our children need. It may feel comfortable to keep our babies close to us, but our children need to explore the calling that God has for their lives. My son longed for the adventure of summer camp and I was not going to let my fears keep him from it.
The pictures in the brochure looked amazing, and the packing list was helpful. We talked about choices and the importance of friendship as we prepared for his big week. And while I knew it would be difficult for me and the rest of our family to be missing one of ours, I knew that the experience mattered. So he packed and I prayed and as much as I wished I could go there with him, I knew that this was a step for him to take. It is a season of trust for me, trusting God to guard his heart and his mind and to use these days to help him grow into the man he will be. So, praying that campfire commitments and the fire of faith would both burn bright for him, I resolved to drive my boy to camp.
I wished I could speak the truth to him that he would hear only in a stranger’s voice. I wished I could act out skits and dump him in the pool and stretch his comfort zone all at home. But I could not, children need to hear God speak through a choir of voices, not just our own. I had lived God's truth and poured into my son all that I know to pour. But sometimes, truth is better heard when you hear it twice. Real becomes more real when those things known are told to you again by a brand new friend. So this is my time to be still while camp counselors I do not know share their glimpse of the Kingdom with my sweet son.
I have seen first-hand how that summer camp experience can cause big change. And I have heard God’s still small voice whisper into a young teen’s life. And I have seen how God uses counselors and creation to reveal His truth to those who seek to hear. Lives can be changed as God speaks through his word, his people, and his world. And while I have lived my life desiring to miss not a minute of my son's life, this week will belong to him. It will be seven days of independence and seven days that God can use to continue what we have faithfully sought to do. It is a season of trust for me, trusting God to keep him safe while he learns to dive and zip-line across water.
This world is full of distractions. Computers draw us into hours spent online. Cell phones vibrate with the urgency of texts. Gaming systems engulf summer days and nights. In the blink of an eye, the whole of this season will be past and the wonder of it lost if we never step out. Leaving technology behind, quieting his busy world, I chose to drive my boy to camp, praying that, in the quiet moments, God's voice would be heard all the more clearly.
Children were never meant to be only ours or live under our roof forever. Our children belong to God and it is his voice that they should follow first and foremost. Scripture tells us that children grow up and leave their father and mother (Genesis 2:24) so we have a calling to guide our children to develop independence from us. When we guide our children to see how God is at work and bless them as they follow his path, they develop interdependence with their Heavenly Father which will serve them throughout their life.
Sometimes, the hardest things are needful. Sometimes the needful things are a catalyst in our chaotic lives. Sometimes missing is the right thing and saying a temporary good-bye is exactly where we need to be. In that place where we release our grip, God will hold on tight. And He will never let go.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra