If you have ever worked so hard for something, planned and then anticipated how it should all play out, then I think you can relate to the words that will follow. Although my daughter did all the actual work and decision making, as parents we did our share of tilling, toiling, planting and watering for the 18+ years of her life.
It is like that with anything, whether it be ministry related, work/career goals or personal growth that have required of us more than we thought we could handle at times. Eventually it all comes to a head and you take on the cliché "Let Go and Let God".
That final push to pull it all together, pack up her room and load it all into the car was a stressful time. The house was a mess, there were many goodbyes to be said and boxes to pack. The anticipation put all of us in a variety of moods throughout the week.
Often in the chaos, when we stop and allow God into the mess within, he shows up and brings about a peace that puts it all into perspective. For me this came through the Word. During that last week, after a busy day at work I came home to the cluttered mess that happens before the final organizational display of completion. I went into the one room untouched from the fray and opened up the Word. In it I read a parable I have read a hundred times before. . . but this time the living Word spoke to me in a new way.
It was the parable of the farmer scattering seed and it ends like this:
"Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!" Then he said, "Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand."
Wait for the harvest
While we were at Azusa Pacific University at a planned event during Welcome Weekend for the incoming freshman and their families, one evening I saw a couple sitting alone. I went over and made small talk. I learned they were here from the midwest. The more we talked I could sense the unsettled expectation of leaving their daughter and returning home two thousand miles away. Fear was evident in the father's eyes and the mother's courageous smile reminded me of the parable I had read the week before.
When hard situations arise and the fear of the unknowns begin to grow I have learned to focus on the things that I know to be true and have taken root in my own life experiences.
This was my 3rd child to send off to college and although this situation was different than the other two, the truth is I see the goodness of God, the hand of God and the mercy of God in my children's lives every day.
Last week I lost sight of that.
In talking to that couple who was about to launch their first child, I was reminded that I have the foresight of what it is like to "let go and let God" as I have sent children off to college, to navigate life on their own and experience the independence that they so desperately need.
God has prepared the soil of our children's lives. We have done our part and with His goodness, leading and mercy I can continue to do the hard thing and wait.
To "wait for the harvest".
To wait with hope, joyful anticipation and most of all with prayer.
As I reflected on this lesson, I felt there was some crossover for anyone who has worked hard for something then felt the sting of the loss as it came to an end. You have done your part. But the hope comes in knowing that when your part is done God keeps on moving, working and eventually He will bring in the harvest.
We left that dorm room with boxes still to unpack, friends still to be made and lots of learning to be had in the coming years. But as my daughter toils and plants now on her own we can all watch and wait with anticipation for the harvest the light of Christ within her will produce.
With hope and joy and anticipation we wait for the harvest God will produce as this next generation goes out into the world to plant seeds of faith they have been given as a legacy.
P.S. On our trip home Phil and I listened to a few episodes of the podcast The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman
Episode 239 is A Sending Prayer for College Freshmen
Episode 240 is A Staying Prayer for Parents
Check them out if you are a parent sending a freshman away to college and/or a parent staying behind as your child goes off to college!