“I’m probably never going to live here again.” Those were the words of our youngest son, Bret, before he left for college this week. He’s twenty-two and still has over fifty hours of school to complete in order to graduate. That means he will stay on campus next summer, and probably the following fall to get his requirements completed. After that, he hopes to walk straight into employment overseas.
His words keep replaying in my mind. Could it be that our season of child rearing is over?
It seems like yesterday when Bret entered the world, a month before his due date. As a small group of friends gathered to celebrate his birth, our preemie emerged, weighing seven pounds, eight ounces. However, he didn’t cry like most babies do at birth. Instead, he bleated like a lamb and quickly turning grey. As it turned out, his lungs were not completely developed so they whisked him off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Bret was in NICU for nine days, hooked up to an oxygen halo. I remember how difficult it was for me emotionally. I desperately wanted to hold my newborn but it was a few days before I was allowed to do that. He had to remain connected to the oxygen because his lungs needed to mature. One of the nurses said, “You’re going to have your hands full with this one.” I asked why she thought that. She said, “Bret doesn’t like the oxygen halo and keeps trying to remove it on his own.” Her words turned out to be prophetic.
Bret is an independent thinker, often pushes the limit, and wears his hair long. At 6’5”, he stands out in a crowd. However, I still love him, even though we do not always see eye-to-eye.
And here’s the truth for all parents. Just because our children are out of the house doesn’t mean we’re completely done with parenting.
One of the most important thing we can do as moms and dads is to pray specific prayers over our children daily. Bret was brought up in the church, but there are many opposing influences in the world that want to take him down. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” It is only through intercessory prayer that we can battle the enemy that wants to hold our children hostage.
I am a believer in the old proverb, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). It does not say that he will never drift from the faith. It means that one day, he will come back to it.
And that is my hope. My son may not ever return home to live, but I pray daily that he will come back to the rock that I stand on, the one that has given my life meaning for so many years, Jesus Christ.
Our job as a parent is never done.