My husband and I just returned home from the bus station, where our daughter was joining twenty eight other students from all over our state to begin the first leg of their journey to the United Kingdom. The hours before she left were a flurry of activity and last minute picture-taking.
We met her fellow travelers at a local bus station, which would take them to Logan airport. After a group photo for the parents, they kids boarded the bus, their first leg on a journey to another land and exciting new adventures.
Several moms were wiping tears from their eyes, but not me. Instead, I felt an odd mixture of pride, happiness, gratitude…and a certain hollowness. A part of my heart was speeding toward Logan airport, further and further away from me.
I texted our son, who is at an advanced studies program at a boarding school in the same town. Today was a day when visitors were permitted. Did he want us to stop by? Did he need anything?
My phone buzzed almost immediately with his cheery reply: “Nope! I’m good!”
As we drove homeward, I looked over at my husband, this man I have loved for twenty three years, who has shared this parenthood journey with me and smiled, however tremulously.
“We did good,” I told him in a quiet voice.
We have raised two independent, smart, fun kids who are unafraid to take on the world, to risk, to stand up for what they know is right, to be a good friend to others. They both have clear goals and big dreams. No they are not perfect (nobody is) but they have survived our often imperfect parenting and thrived. Proof that God takes our sometimes inadequate, broken efforts, infuses it with His grace, and transforms it into something beautiful and good. His mercy makes me weep.
Julia texted us from the plane before they took off for London. They would arrive at Heathrow airport at 1 a.m. our time. As I drifted off to sleep, I thanked Jesus that He watches over our loved ones when we cannot. Knowing that He was in the U.K. with her gave me peace.
I was jarred awake by the ringing of the telephone.
I glanced wild-eyed at my bedside clock. It was 2:10 in the morning.
Sheer terror flooded my heart as I stumbled across the room to pick up the receiver.
“Susan Brown?” The voice was low, serious in tone.
“Yes?” My heart felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest.
“This is So-and-So from the parents’ phone tree.” Pause.
“Yes?” My voice was high-pitched, unrecognizable to my own ears. What went wrong?!
“Just wanted you to know that the kids’ plane just landed safely. Please call the next parent on your list.”
I could not believe it. I told my husband the message and he was incredulous as I was. Everyone knows that phone calls after midnight are never good news. Why would they scare people like that?
It took me a few hours to get back to sleep. I reached for my Bible and turned to Psalm 121, a psalm that always comforts me. Verse five caught my eye: “The Lord is your Keeper.”
I looked up the meaning of “keeper” in the original language and learned that it means: “to guard, to observe, to keep watch, to protect.”
Peace settled over my heart. He is still on His throne, regardless of what happens on earth.
I cannot be with my kids as they experience new places and new things. But Jesus can and is.
Not only does He keep and protect me, He guards, observes, keeps watch over, and protects my children at all times. He loves them even more than I do.
I needed that reminder.
Maybe you do too.
He goes with your loved ones where you cannot go. He is working in ways that you cannot see.
His love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:7).
He is with us when we get those late night phone calls, whether the news is bad or good or ill-conceived.
I am so grateful for the tender loving care of Jesus, that spans continents, time, and all eternity.