“You shall teach [God’s words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7
This past Sunday, I stopped in the middle of worship and began to cry. Instead of an encounter with Christ, I was having a mommy moment. I kept looking up on stage at my son as he played in the worship band. He leaves for college soon and will be looking for a new church home. While the band played the chorus to “One Thing Remains”, my eyes filled with tears at the realization my son wouldn’t be on that stage for a while and the chair a couple of seats down was about to be vacant. Then the sadness subsided because a bigger reassurance came. Thankfulness for all the years, I’ve been able to worship God with him.
I remember the first church service he attended with my husband and me. He was five. Our church had started a new policy that as children started school they were to join their parents in the pew instead of going to the nursery. Each parent received a copy of Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman to help them through their transition. At the time I was disappointed in the new church rule. Church was a time as a parent I could sit still, focus on worship, and breathe. I didn’t feel ready to train my son for worship, let alone take him to the bathroom every five minutes. Regardless of how I felt, we marched in our first Sunday as three, my son, my husband and me. We allowed my son to choose the seat and he led us all the way down to the front pew in the Traditional service at our church. He wiggled, became board, and turned to look at the people behind us before finally settling in while asking us if it was time to go yet during the middle of prayer.
It took time for my son to adjust to church, but it happened. A few years later his little sister joined us. By then we had moved pews. We claimed the second pew instead of the first. Sunday after Sunday, same pew. We gradually got to know the people around us and visitors who would come. At the front, we always felt part of the action observing every musician, as well as, reading the lips of the pastor speaking.
Slowly, each of my children took on the responsibilities of acolytes and helping with communion, becoming part of the service. Then when my son began high school he was asked to join the adult worship team to play bass. He had played guitar for the two previous years in the youth worship band on Sunday evenings. With this new opportunity, our family switched to the Contemporary service so we could keep worshipping together.
Which brings us to now. His last Sunday with us for awhile. Yes, I am sad he won’t be two seats down from me during the sermon each week, but there is another part of me that celebrates this moment for what it is. As parents my husband and I have tried to teach our son about Jesus at home through spiritual disciplines, such as prayer, fasting and Bible study. We’ve also encouraged worship corporately by attending and staying involved in a church. He knows our faith is important to us. Now it is his turn to make steps of faith towards his decision to follow Christ. Now it is between God and him.
We will continue to love and encourage him with every step beginning on our knees in prayer. This moment, though, is a sacred moment of releasing our son into the hands of our Savior for his next steps to be taken without us as he moves forward into manhood hopefully deepening his own relationship with Christ. With an “I love you”, a hug, and prayer, one last thing remains. As he steps into his next part of life without us leading, we trust God to lead patiently calling our son’s name to Him through triumphs and trials. Just like He did with us when we were starting out. The God of heaven who woos me is the same God who woos my son. I’m so very grateful for this moment and all the ones that led to it.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6