“I can’t do this …”
“ My heart is breaking … I just can’t do this …”
“Why me?! Why do I have to walk this journey?”
“How will I ever make it through another day?”
Have you ever uttered any of those words in a moment of grief … or of experiential pain?
I have often wondered how Abraham felt as he walked up Mount Moriah with his son … his only son. God had specifically told Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering.
What kind of God asks a father to give up his beloved son? Would there not be grandchildren to spoil? Would there be no more holidays to celebrate? Would there be no more long father-son talks under the canopy of stars? Would Abraham not be able to watch Isaac grow and to develop as a man of God?
“God said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” – Genesis 22:2
I wonder what was going on in Abraham’s heart as they made the three-day journey to the place of the intended sacrifice? Did Abraham wrestle with God? Did Abraham’s heart leak down his cheeks as he contemplated what life would be like after the sacrifice?
I wonder if Abraham wondered where the years of sling-shots, of good-night kisses and of simply watching this marvelous, miraculous boy sleep peacefully in his bed had disappeared to.
This is what you and I know … God had more than simple family pleasures for the progeny of Abraham. God wanted to use Abraham and Isaac to begin a people group so grand and so exponential that even today we give honor to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
But Abraham didn’t know that when he was taking Isaac up the mountain. All that Abraham knew was that he was a dad and that his heart was hurting. Abraham also knew that he served a good God who had made a promise of heaven’s blessing on his family.
So Abraham obeyed. He released his son into the hands of the Almighty and eternally loving Father.
I have often wondered how Hannah felt as she took her little boy, only three or four years old, by the hand and then left him at the temple in service to God? Did she weep as she heard his giggle one last time … did they linger along the way counting the rocks on the pathway while Hannah’s heart was in a vice of pain that only a mother understands?
I wonder if Hannah wondered, “Have I taught him enough? Have I prayed for him enough? Have I loved him enough?”
At this moment in Hannah’s life, she didn’t know that God was going to give her more children to fill the empty spot in her heart. She didn’t know that God was going to use Samuel mightily in the history of His nation. Hannah didn’t know that Samuel was going to have two books in the Bible named after him!
She only knew that she wasn’t going to tuck him into his little bed anymore … or wipe his nose … or tell him that he was just like his dad.
Parents have always had to release children. Always. In every generation … at every moment in history … there comes a moment in a family’s legacy where the next generation moves into their prepared and God-ordained destiny.
Always. No mother dodges this emotional bullet.
No father gets to hold his little girl on his lap for decade upon decade. No daddy is entitled to play catch with a miniature piece of masculinity on the front yard forever.
No mother gets to keep making PB&J’s … or painting Easter Eggs … or tucking a little one in at night forever.
We all … like Abraham and like Hannah … must release our children into their destiny and calling.
My number is up.
You think that I would be used to this by now … but I am not! After all, I have already sent her 4 older siblings into adulthood and they are scattered across the nation from Brooklyn to Houston and in cities in between.
But what I am learning is that no mother’s heart ever develops callouses from the continual act of releasing children into adulthood. If anything, a mother’s heart grows softer and more tender as the years quickly fly by.
This week, our youngest daughter, Joni Rebecca McLeod, will board a plane in Toronto and will travel to Chennai, India, where she will spend 15 months serving an organization that is furthering the Kingdom of God. She will be working with teams that come from America to serve the nation of India. Joni will be developing their child sponsorship program and will be serving a large and flourishing organization there.
Today I feel like Abraham … and like Hannah. I am releasing the youngest McLeod to a lifetime of service in the Kingdom of God. She will not be living next door to me … nor will she be going out for a weekly lunch date with me … nor will she be setting up a time for a mother-daughter pedicure.
We will communicate through Facetime and through e-mails. And oh! I am so grateful for modern technology! What a joy it will be to see the sparkle in her eye and hear the lilt in her voice in the days to come as we look at each other through the miracle of the computer screen!
So this week … I am asking you to pray for me. I am asking that you would pray that I would have the strength to obey God and to say good-bye. Pray that I will have the resolve of Abraham and the tenacity of Hannah.
Pray that heaven will become bigger and that hell will become smaller because of my little girl.
Pray that my heart will stay focused on the goodness of God and on the furtherance of His unshakable kingdom.
And … I want you to know that I am praying for your children today. I am praying that the impact of their lives will make ripples in the water of eternity.
I am praying that we will raise a generation of Isaac’s … of Samuel’s … and of Joni Becca’s.