It was more a day dream than anything. Or that’s what I thought at the time. It could work, but it would mean a lot of letting go for all of them, and who was I to suggest it? So I didn’t. But I did pray. “Lord, if this is of You, bring it to pass — not the way I imagine it, but the way You want it to be.”
Somehow, somewhere it happens. You don’t notice, between the paper dolls and skinned knees and snuggling into your mom’s lap for bedtime stories and report cards and school plays and first dates and college majors and a wedding and babies, and then you’re the mom kissing skinned knees and telling bedtime stories and going to school plays and graduations and weddings, and can it really be that your babies are all grown up and having babies of their own? Then one day you slow down to catch your breath, and you look at your parents, and you realize they’ve grown old.
I’m living in this ache. My mom is losing her memory. She’s frail and sometimes afraid, and I watch my father keep the vows he made to the bride of his youth, the wild-ish one who won his heart and has held it more than half a century.
The walls were closing in, and something had to change. But who was I to suggest it?
Luke and Sarah lived in a refugee community, a world in need right outside their doorstep, and were preparing to move to Japan as full-time missionaries. They actually planned to go last December and even had plane reservations, but several months before their departure, God gave them clear guidance the timing wasn’t quite right. Her name is Naomi Belle, and she’s due at the end of May.
Since they knew they’d be around a while, Luke mentioned that they hoped to move closer to my parents, and I breathed a prayer, and I asked them. Yes, they said. They would be willing, but would that be best for everyone? God, You know.
I was in town to catch a flight the next morning and had joined them for an evening service. We parted ways in the church parking lot, and I returned to my parents’ house — Mom dozing in front of TV and Dad and I talking in the kitchen, and did I want to see the latest doctor’s report? We sat on the edge of the bed and read the hard words, and I don’t even remember how the conversation went, but something I’d said about navigating unknown territory and God providing when we ask, even when we don’t know what to ask for, it had stuck in my father’s mind. He ventured, and I breathed another prayer and said, “You know that’s not just for Jacob and our family but for everyone who asks Him.” And he was quiet, but hope sparked.
Then, the next morning, in the car on the way to the airport, he hesitated only a moment and then he said it. “Do you think Luke and Sarah would be willing to move in with us? I could clear out the back half of the house and they could have those rooms . . .” and he kept right on, describing my day dream to the last detail.
I listened amazed, and then I told him, and we shared the wonder.
“I think this may be an answer to prayer,” he said. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say those words before.
A couple of weeks ago they moved in. They’re painting and arranging, and life is echoing off walls that have been mostly quiet for a long time. The large central room where my siblings and I played is now their living room. (They opted to keep the carpet we added as teens. “When else in my life will I have orange shag carpet?” Sarah pointed out. Indeed.) My sister’s old bedroom is Luke’s and Sarah’s. And the same crib that many a wee hour I tiptoed to and sang beside and prayed over, and that still holds memories of Naomi’s father — infant smiles in early morning and little arms reaching up to embrace a new day — has been cleaned and reassembled and now stands in my childhood bedroom awaiting sweet new life once again.
It’s a big change for all of them, and I won’t romanticize it, but I also can’t get over this holy sense of eternal purpose and the divine dance. This time to be born and time to die and everything in between, and how life is one letting go after another, but only so our hands will be open to receive the next gift. The galaxies swirl, and the planets spin, and the God who holds all things together with His singing word, also stoops low to visit a kitchen where a trembling woman sits wrestling an unnamed fear, and a grandson reads Words of Life, and a granddaughter-in-law comforts with presence and intercession, and a faithful husband-father-grandfather-great-grandfather receives and recognizes an answer to a barely-believed-possible prayer.
And I, who watch and pray from a distance, live in this exquisite ache, trusting the Always Good — letting go of what was for what is and for the promised joy of what will be. Letting go, not because it’s easy, but because I know He never will.
To read more posts that consider The Practice of Letting Go, visit Ann Voskamp’s site.