As we prepare our children to go serve in whatever capacity the Lord has in mind for them, we prepare them for a hard road ahead. We take special care to sharpen the arrows He has placed in our quiver, honing and straightening them to whatever degree we can so that they will fly straight and true... sharpening them so that they will make an impact when they hit the target He has set before them. But the road ahead of them is hard in many ways. They will hit bumps along the way and potholes that risk mis-aligning them to the course He has set before them (sorry for the mixed analogies... it's the best I can do with jet lag).
Such is the stuff this week is made of for Jaynie and Mrs. Beaver and me. We must pray Jaynie through the challenging road that lies ahead. It is only now that she will fully realize her need for the only One who can actually meet her needs, as she comes out from under our direct protection. And that transition is hard. She will need much prayer and encouragement to fight the fight of faith that lies ahead.
But let us not lose sight of the hard road that lies behind as well. There too, much prayer and encouragement is needed... and much faith.
What do I mean by this? I mean that those who 'send' also need much support, not just those who go.
Parenting is hard. Single-parenting is unimagineably hard (bless those who have no choice in the matter - we must pray even more for you!) This week, Mrs. Beaver is single-parenting 8 beautiful blessings who are still at home. And that's a blessing, but it's also very, very, very hard.
Mrs. Beaver and I have often joked that we had to switch to zone defense once we were 'out-numbered'. But in reality, parents can never play zone defense. Each child has real needs... and they're not timed in sequence to be manageable by one parent. They can't just be 'contained' which is what zone defense is all about. In fact, there is a far better analogy than zone defense... single-parenting actually looks a lot more like 'whack-a-mole', the carnival game.
Just in case you've never played it, let me describe. In whack-a-mole, mechanical moles stick their heads up above the surface of the game board, and it's the job of the game player to 'whack' them on the head as they come up in various places all over the game surface. The goal is to see every mole and whack it on the head before it goes back down below the game surface. It's pretty easy at first as the game starts slowly, with one mole at a time sticking it's head up in slow progression. But as the game moves on, the pace of the moles increases and increases and increases until it seems several moles are sticking their heads up all at once. The game player at this point is working furiously to first identify and then 'whack' each mole as it sticks it's head up. The game player has almost no chance of seeing everything in time, reacting appropriately and keeping up.
Single-parenting feels a lot like that. And with that situation, comes the need for much prayer, encouragement and faith.
Not only does it feel like you're hopelessly unable to meet all the needs of your children. It can even push you to trying meeting those needs much like the game player... by frantically 'whacking' down each need as it arises just to keep up.
Instead, parents need the wisdom to understand that they cannot meet all the needs on their own - they need their Savior and Lord to stand in the gap for them, providing wisdom, patience and grace to meet the needs of their little moles. They need miraculous intervention to slow the 'pace of the game' so they can slow down and process each one of those very real needs with each of their little moles. And they need the faith to rest and hope in Him, not in the overwhelming circumstances. They need to remember that Jesus NEVER plays whack-a-mole with our needs.
And sending out a sibling is hard too! It's a huge adjustment to send someone you love away for an extended time, especially when they're your friend. This is a hard time, too, for our children. And they don't have any say in the matter. Instead, they feel the loss, and feel no sense of control over the situation. What they need most now is a Savior to come alongside them and remind them that they can be forever connected with their sibling, even across time and miles, by His Spirit.
May I ask for the blessing of your prayers that:
- Mrs. Beaver would have the faith and the wisdom to lean not on her own understanding, but instead to trust in Him with all her heart, and to lead our children in a way that shows them Christ in every circumstance as the strong, kind, wise Lord that He is.
- Mrs. Beaver would have the strength and endurance to single-parent 8 little moles for over a week.
- Mrs. Beaver would have Jesus' vision to really see the needs of her little moles as they arise, and the wisdom to stop and process those needs one-by-one, with the compassion of Jesus, even when they seem to be coming in torrents.
- All 8 of our 'little moles', and especially the oldest ones, would see the need to focus not on their own needs, but to help Mrs. Beaver meet the many needs coming at her.
- That our family would be blessed by a unity of the spirit that is beyond our comprehension.
- Above all, please pray that in my home, selfishness would be slayed and all would be kind toward one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as Christ also has forgiven us.