My Favorite Passage

In the space of just 39 months I went from being a family of one to being a family of four. In just another 33 months I was part of a family of six. The g-force wrought by the acceleration of the size of my family blew the hair right off the top of my head. We went from six to ten at a more genteel pace, adding the final four over the course of nine years. It’s been a great ride.

Now, however, things are moving in the opposite direction. The fruitful vine and olive plants around my table is likely to drop from ten of us to six of us in the space of just 24 months. That vine and one of those olive plants are blossoming in heaven now. Two of the departing plants will simply soon be dining in their own homes.

Watching my two oldest bloom into adulthood, one turned twenty just four days ago, the next eighteen today, is both a blessing and a curse. I am terribly proud of them, as I am of all my children. Their mother was likewise proud. The trouble is the pain of going through these banner days without her. When a child moves out, when they graduate, when they marry, I’m supposed to take Denise’s hand as we sigh together over this moment of completion. But I am incomplete. I’m supposed to put my arm around her, she to sink into me as we remember together the whole of the story. But there is a hole in my story.

Our nest is emptying, but she was the first to fly away.  I don’t, of course, begrudge anyone their departure. To be with Christ is life. And, life means children grow up, establish homes, and fill their nests. My calling is to remember that I’m not the gardener, but the steward. My wife, my children, well, my just isn’t the right word to describe them. They’re His. It is not even my life. When I died with Him at Calvary I gave up my. When He took my sin, He took everything I had. When Denise’s father placed her hand in mine God moved her from one steward to another. When each of the children were born He gave us temporary charge over them, under Him. Each of them was clearly marked, Property of Jesus.

Therein is the answer to my pain, the fullness to bring me to completion. As His babies move out He will take my hand. And in heaven His other scarred hand will hold Denise’s hand. And the three of us will sigh, remember, give thanks, find comfort. Wherever my children go, those same hands will hold them in safety and peace.

I will, of course, still see my oldest children. I will also, however, see again Shannon and Denise. All four of them are simply moving toward completion, as am I. Every passage for the believer, especially the last, leads to the Celestial City. May we learn to give thanks all along the way.