“The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” [Exodus 13:21]
I ran upstairs with a lump in my throat. Saying goodbye was never easy, but this time, the old farmhouse was even more empty than before.
Sibling number six had just gotten married, and her room was empty, still, lacking those two vibrant sisters of mine who always brightened my visits home. Living forty hours away from family made me wish everything stayed the same when I did get to come home.
But everything changes. Dad’s beard was more grey, mom’s hair a bit more white. And, they were talking of selling the home place.
Gone would be the old wooden gate my brother built for Mom before he passed away. I thought giving him up was change enough, but life keeps moving at such a pace I wonder how the heart can keep up.
Sooner or later, even Dad and Mom won’t be hearty, busy, healthy. And, sooner or later, they will be gone. That’s a change I dread more than most.
We’ve all gone from one large, happy nest to being scattered over the four corners of the earth, as we like to say. One sister leaves for Africa soon, the home she loves more than here. Another sister mothers six girls in Canada while another is about to give birth to her first born in South Dakota.
Two kids out of ten remain at home, and the place may soon be sold to another family of ten, just like we used to be. Life is a swirl, a flurry, and even my own darling kids are growing at an alarming rate.
I can’t hit “pause”. On anything. Not even my own wrinkles, age, or youth. The next birthday will come when it comes, just like the ones before, and the daughter will ask for shoes a few sizes larger than my own while she stands tall at my side.
This is freaky, scary business. Sometimes I want to bury my head under blankets while life speeds by. I mean, really, who ever thought I’d be thirty six years old with a twelve year old nearly as tall as her mama– and nowhere close to being done growing.
They eat, and they grow. That grocery cart in Costco holds enough to feed an army and I grow silent when I see the bill. With four in tow and an over loaded cart, I get plenty of stares.
I’m proud of walking town with a ring on my finger and four lovely kids around me. Life is good, and I’m blessed. But I still can’t hit pause. Soon, they will be teens, then be gone, and it will be my husband and I sitting in those chairs with greying hair and bones just a bit more brittle than before.
So why this dread of change? Isn’t change what makes the world go round? Literally, the world as we know it would cease to exist if we all stayed young and the kids never left home.
Because if no one grew up and left the nest, no babies would be born. If no one grew old, the young would be left to navigate life alone.
If there was no death of the seed planted in the ground, there could be no birth of new plants springing up.
If leaves didn’t grow brown and fall to the earth, new leaves wouldn’t form in spring.
Life comes in stages, in phases, full of change, with nothing permanent. Even trials don’t last forever, though we think they will. And each season is just that– a season that will soon be over.
The mother drowning in school books will soon be left with a quiet house. And the mother with the quiet house need not fear that this phase of her life will prove less fruitful.
Fruitfulness is a choice, not the happen-stance of a certain phase of life. Fruitfulness comes when the heart is fixated on the Creator and just flat out making the most of each phase as it comes.
Let the kids be young, then let them grow. Let them surround you constantly, then let them leave more than you wish they would. Let yourself be “mama”, then “Mom” by some growing son who wishes to appear manly.
There is nothing to fear. Not even old age, empty house, or growing kids approaching teen years. “Perfect love casts out fear” [1John 4:18], and He’s come to bring abundant life that doesn’t end when one season flows into the next before you catch your breath.
You are born with purpose, created by a magnificent God, and you have no more say over your life than you did over your birth. He has a plan, a story to write, and He wants us to walk each one without turning away in mental avoidance. Each phase of life has His stamp of approval, His touch, His grace, His answers, and His deliverance.
We have only to hold His hand, and all of it becomes a story of grace, one more stroke of His brush over the canvas of our lives. He brushes beauty, He breathes grace when we fully live in each present He brings. Life no longer becomes an inevitable rush grasping us without mercy; it becomes a flow of grace, a story unfolded, a rest learned that will lead us straight to the end with both purpose and peace.
We have only to hold His hand, and follow. Only to find Him, walk with Him, delight in what He gives and thank Him from the depths of our hearts for it. We have only to worship, to be thankful, to rejoice in the place we have in His story.
Because it remains that, at the end of it all, it really is His story, not ours. And because He’s good, He wants to bless us at every turn of the road, not just some. We have only to find those blessings and really live them up.
Let the years unfold with all the changes they bring, because when the heart is set on Christ, more years mean more wisdom, and changes call for added dimensions of grace. The soul becomes rich, supple, amply supplied by tasting of it all. We need fear no passing years, need dread no change, because embracing it all means being embraced by Christ.
Let such a Love lead us straight on with uplifted eyes, right into change without a hint of fear because this life is meant to be power-filled by a powerful God, to be love-drenched by the Founder of Love, to be safely lived in Arms that know how to carry us right around the next turn of the road to our final destination.