Friday, July 11, 2008

Setting Them Afloat

"As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; my spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever." (Isa.59:21)

I once counseled a mother whose grown children were fiercely bickering among themselves, causing her much anguish, and putting a strain on her and her husband's relationship. Her question to me was, "What do I say to them?" to which I replied, "As little as possible." One of the hardest things in life is to relinquish responsibility for people and situations that have been under our jurisdiction for many years. We sometimes think to ourselves, when our children are young, “I'll be so glad when I don't have to make all the decisions and bear the ultimate accountability.” Then, oddly enough, when that time comes, we are hesitant to let go. It's hard to truly set them afloat.

Perhaps I could illustrate it this way: A life jacket is a wonderful device for keeping you buoyant, but you can't wear one all the time, just in case you fall in water somewhere! No, in that case, one would need to have already learned how to swim, or, at least, to float. Then, a buoy in the water—steady and true—will be sufficient as a marker to lead one back in the direction of safe harbor…if he or she is so inclined

When the time comes for our children be set afloat, hard as it may seem, we will need to do less talking to them about God, and more talking to God about them. I know this is a easier said than done, but if we're willing to trust God, and allow the Holy Spirit free rein, we can save ourselves a great deal of pain and frustration. If we cannot bring ourselves to claim this verse in Isaiah 59 as a promise, we can surely claim it as a principle. And in the meantime, remember this:

Our grown children need us to be buoys, not life-jackets, on the sea of life.

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