Monday, October 12, 2015

The Sheep of His Hand

When we moved to Indiana, nobody had ever gone to school before. I was a stay-at-home mom with four preschoolers. Little Lorraine was the first one to leave. I remember the nights leading up to her first day of kindergarten: her big brown eyes asking me terrified questions, “Mama, what was school like when you were a kid?”

“Mom, will I get to have a stay-at-home day with you again?”

“But what if I miss you?”

Years later, a son's first day of school. His face said “this is no big deal” when he left me, but after school, he grabbed my hand and made a quiet confession: “Mom, I cried a little at rest time because I missd-ed you, but nobody saw me.”

Now, a new city, a new home, and all six are old enough for school.  God is asking quite a bit of me, it seems, to trust my precious babies with people I hardly know. But He is kind to me, even through this, providing me assurances of His presence and His love for these dear children; a love greater than mine.

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In Indiana, and now, here in Michigan, we walk across the yard to school.  I may be able to see the school from my window, but the distance between home and school is huge, no matter where you live. Here, I am the one to whom they come with joys and problems. At school, to whom will they go? If they cry, will anyone see? Once they are on the conveyor belt that takes them to kindergarten, to sports, to junior high, to high school, to college, will they ever come back to me, to simply rest in my arms?

Yet, they are not mine, and I have no right to hold them as if they are. Our children are ours for a season, but by the grace of God given in Baptism, they are His for eternity. And here in my kitchen as I pray for my school kids, I know that God Himself is there in the school with them, helping them grow into who He has made them to be.

God is there, and I thank God, that His presence is welcome at this school.

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Last night, one wouldn't eat. Another had a horrible dream that he went to school and forgot his shoes. One was extra fussy about her hair. They are wearing unfamiliar clothes (uniforms!), and they don't know their way around the building.  They need to learn to use lockers, and they are meeting all kinds of new people.  And yet, this morning, they each managed to put one foot in front of the other and walk into the unknown.  Not one of them cried when I left.  God is holding them up, even as He has promised.

And now, they are sitting in new desks, learning their new lives. And God is with them. They are watching for his provision, and He will provide. They gather with their peers and their teachers, not only to learn multiplication tables and phonics; they gather with the body of Christ, and together, they will receive good things from His hand.

The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
    you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Psalm 145:15-16

Almighty God, heavenly Father, You have blessed us with the joy and care of children in our homes and in our school. Give us calm strength and patient wisdom that, as they grow in years, we may teach them to love whatever is just and true and good, following the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord. We cannot do this except by your strength. Please pour out your abundant provision for us, your church, and grant us faithful hands and faithful hearts.
In His name we pray, Amen.

(prayer paraphrased from LSB p. 315)

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Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,

    and his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall commend your works to another,

    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful,

    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.

(Psalm 145: 3-9)

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