A phone call. Shock. Tears. Long talks. Earnest prayers for a different outcome. The news sinks in. Wrestling with God. Truth. Promises. Hope. More tears. Heartache. Raw emotions. Yet peace in trusting in God’s timing.
Our last few days have been filled with these things as we received a phone call from Sam’s mom last week that she is ready to bring her son back home. To be honest, we all knew deep down in our hearts that this was going to eventually come. And I’ve dreaded it. But coming this soon, was quite a shock to us all, and Jake, Sam and I have experienced some real raw emotions over the past few days.
There are parts of me that understand this. But more parts of me are in deep anguish for the loss that I am feeling over this boy that God has taught me to love unconditionally. I understand a mother’s yearning inside her heart to be with and raise her son. I fully get that. But as I’ve processed my emotions over the past few days, my fears have been kicking in.
I think of all the progress he’s made here in his behavior and school and I fear it will all go down the drain when he gets back to his other life.
For almost a year now I’ve watched him develop a loving, selfless, appreciative demeanor and an awareness for others’ needs. And I fear he will be hardened once he goes back into that environment.
I’ve been reminiscing over these past few days of when Sam’s faith in Jesus was born inside of him a few months ago, and how I have been seeing the work of the Holy Spirit transform his life and give him an excitement in thirsting after the things of the Lord. I think of the open-hearted family devotionals we’ve had with him, of the youth pastor at our church who has invested in him, of the friends he’s made in our community who are also choosing to follow God’s path, of the long-deep talks he and Jake have had about spiritual maturity and using the gifts and talents God has given him to impact others…..and I fear that his foundation in Christ isn’t strong enough yet for him to walk this path in a completely different setting.
I fear that he’s not strong enough to stand against the peer pressure and lifestyles that the city life presents to young boys.
I fear the awaiting destruction of no good male role models.
I fear that the loving bond Sam has made with each of our children will be broken with him now living at a distance.
I fear the loss that I am already feeling in my heart. Because as much as I thought we were part of Sam’s God story, he is actually more a part of ours. When I look at Sam I see growth in my faith. I see the sweat and the tears and the frustrations of learning how to love someone no matter what they do or how they act. When I look at Sam I see a huge piece of my life that taught me how to put others first in a selfless love. And without him here, I fear a big piece of me will be gone.
And yet, as my mind swirls and swirls and swirls with these fears produced from my heartache, I hear God say to me There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. Who am I trusting in? Where there is fear and worry, then there is no trust in an Almighty God. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. God has assured me that He is living in Sam’s heart. And this peace is the only thing that can drive out my fears. God’s perfect love is the only strength, help and victory Sam needs to stand firm in His faith. He doesn’t need me or Jake. He doesn’t need a perfect environment. He just needs to continue trusting in his Savior. And so do I.
Sam’s question to us as we sat down and talked through all of this a few nights ago was “Why now? Why would God do this now when everything is going so good?” Jake’s answer was that God had given him an awesome year with our family to develop his faith and set a foundation. But now God was calling him out. Out of here, and into a place where he can have a huge impact for Christ. His impact here in little Huxley, Iowa would have been good. But the impact Sam could potentially have in inner-city Des Moines where there are not many young, African American role models following Jesus to look up to is going to be so much greater. And Sam will have the platform of sports which can be used as a huge platform for Christ in the inner-city. As I practically downed an entire toilet paper roll in my tears, Jake encouraged Sam that this was the same way as it was for the disciples in the Bible. They didn’t have a lengthy amount of years with Jesus. But they believed, they spent time with Jesus, and then Jesus left them by way of the cross. And Jesus’ final command to them after his resurrection was summed up in these two words: Now go. Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
Jake encouraged Sam that God is ready to write his story….the book of Sam. We know that the story has actually already been started and has quite an exciting beginning, but where will it go from here? When the news hit, my maternal mind and heart quickly took me into worries and frets about Sam’s future….but then as people started praying for us, God’s promises to Sam became louder in my mind. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them (Isaiah 42:16). GOD WILL NOT FORSAKE HIM! For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). SAM’S CIRCUMSTANCES AND HIS SURROUNDINGS ARE NOT AN ACCIDENT! GOD HAS BIG PLANS FOR SAM’S LIFE! So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10) GOD IS SAM’S STRENGTH AND HELP AND GUIDE! And it’s only because of these truths that I can say to Sam - I am confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
As we’ve said our goodbyes to Sam over the past few days I’ve been reminded that God’s timing is ALWAYS perfect. And even though Sam’s circumstances and environment have changed in the blink of an eye, there is one thing that NEVER changes and is ALWAYS constant….and that is our Almighty God. No matter what trials lie ahead, God is with him.
I hate that you have to leave us. Jake and I have grown to love you so much, and I am having a really hard time letting go of you. I am SO PROUD of the young man I have seen you grow into over the past year. Continue on in the one and only thing that really matters in life - loving God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. If you continue to seek Him, He will help you in every single way that you need.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. ~Joshua 1:9~