I remember the days when my kids were young…dealing with double strollers and diaper bags and little ones bickering over who got to sit where in the minivan. Back then I’d comfort myself with the knowledge that one day I’d have both the time and opportunity to take long hot baths while reading the books of my choice…that this season of raising small children was just that–a season. That was indeed a fact, but oh how naive I was in underestimating the other set of challenges and emotions that comes in letting a child go.
Three nights ago I lay awake into the wee hours doing what I do quite well–worrying. The next day Christian would graduate from college. He intends to move back to Texas to begin his career and hopefully reap the benefits of his labor. Memories and questions bounced around in my mind like silver balls in a pinball machine. The number one question was this: Were we enough? Certainly there were missed opportunities, ways we could have done better, and more we could have imparted…but in the end, was it enough? My worrying sessions tend to end in prayer, and this one was no different. At last I drifted off to sleep, giving Christian over to the One who had loaned him to me.
The next day we set out for the graduation expecting the “same old same old” that graduations bring–speakers encouraging their gowned audience members to go out and change the world. The first speaker inspired us with stories of some of the graduates who’d overcome incredible obstacles to graduate that day, including a Rwandan refugee who’d lost her entire family, a 74-year-old grandparent graduating with her granddaughter…just to name two. There were seven degrees conferred to those who had died while completing them. Seven chairs were adorned with hoods and caps, with seven sets of families and friends seated behind that honored row. The speaker who acknowledged them is a member of the founding family of the university. He continued on to address us as he would a close friend, sharing personal details of the lives of his family and others present. Afterward, the main speaker gave an inspiring presentation similar to any you’d expect at a Christian university. It was what happened next, though, that undid me.
Sounds of Liberty and LU Praise, a band and a choir, took their spots on the stage and began singing “When I Think About the Lord.” The audience just sat listening until a few moments into the song, a couple of graduates stood to their feet, arms outstretched in worshipping and acknowledging the One. Then others stood, followed by others. The movement expanded into the stands, as more and more friends and family members rose, steeped in the wonder and joy expressed by the choir, lifting hands and faces toward the heavens. We were not singing, just listening and worshipping. The Creator of the heavens and the earth was suddenly seated center stage at the ceremony. Tears streamed down my face, as I wept. I became acutely aware that no, our efforts were not enough…but God was. His grace and mercy had taken our feeble human efforts and brought our son to where he now stood. God himself had brought every graduate to this place. It wasn’t by human hands, though we undoubtedly contributed. And unquestionably, these individuals had worked countless hours over the course of years to achieve this milestone. But as graduates and audience alike extended our arms in worship of our Savior, we were struck with an an overwhelming and powerful revelation of the faithfulness of God. He had brought us here. This was his doing, and what he was carrying out in these lives was far greater in magnitude than the degrees that were to be received that day.
How I long to just stop here and worship.
Sweet mothers who worry…continue lifting those children up in prayer. There were times I was so exhausted I could hardly pray. There have been times when quiet trust stepped in and replaced all action. Still there were other times of worry, fear, and doubt. If you fret that as parents we are not enough, you are exactly right. We are not, but God is. And He is faithful.