Friday, June 29, 2012

To the Victor Go the Spoils

Austin slept in this morning, and I watched him sleep,
and tried to capture the memory. 
Tried to soak it all in.
Tried to imagine what it will be like
for him not to be here.

I sat down recently to write him a goodbye letter.
I had put it off, because, for me,
it signified letting him go.

I struggled to articulate what I wanted to say,
finding mere words deficient in their ability
to adequately convey the depths of my heart.

I wanted to include everything:

So much LIFE to summarize in a few, short, pages.

I went through three drafts, and ended up
with over 2500 words.

The overwhelming themes were gratitude,
joy, and love.
We have loved that child, who is now a man,
without restraint.
We had never known such love existed,
prior to becoming parents.
It was truly unprecedented.

You know the kind of love I’m referring to:
 the kind that aches,
the kind that keeps us up at nights,
the kind that suddenly makes our own lives of less importance, because now there is one
whose life matters so much more.

We say goodbye to him on Tuesday,
as he leaves to follow God
to the “uttermost parts of the world”.
He will serve where needs are great,
and resources are few.

He will be the hands and feet of Jesus to those
who are lost,
who are hurting,
who are hungry,
who are in need:
 of hope, rescue, provision, and deliverance.

This impending departure has rendered me
especially reminiscent.

I find myself wishing for more time.
I find myself wishing that I had said “yes” more.
I find myself wishing that I had been
more available, and less impatient.
I find myself hoping that it was enough—
that we did enough.

We made plenty of mistakes. 
Of that, I am sure, but we also made memories,
and they are what will carry us through
the next year that Austin is away.

With all the heartache that his leaving brings,
Jimmy and I could not be happier for him.

For this child we prayed.
For this child we dreamed.

We know what it is to dream for a child.

We know what it is to hand him over to God,
and we know what it is to take him back.

We, like many parents, are masters
of that “give and take”.
As much as we would like for it to be
an irrevocable releasing,
we often find that it is not.

Even now, as he sleeps, the temptation is strong,
practically unrelenting, to take him back.

But we will not.
We will leave him where we always prayed
he would be:

In God’s hands.

He was born to leave, and we know that. 
We understand that he is not ours to keep. 
We rejoice, and are comforted, by the fact
that God has His Own plans for Austin.

We battled against the enemy
for the heart of our son,
and God gave us the victory.
 Having won, we now find it easier
to give Him back to God.
To the Victor go the Spoils,
and God can have him:
Any time.
Any place.
Whatever the case.
Whatever the cost.

We offer Austin, once again, to God,
and we, like Hannah, praise Him
for the privilege to do so.

Austin and I share a special fondness
for God’s handiwork.
We often notice the moon, in its many phases,
and frequently call each other
to make sure that one of us
 hasn’t missed another of its spectacular displays.

We have always marveled at the fact
that no matter where we are in the world,
we can both see the same moon.

I am always comforted by this shared experience
that makes me feel not so far away.
 With just a glimpse, the distance is bridged,
the sadness abated,
and the absence less acute. 

The letter I wrote for Austin is just for us,
but I want to share with you the way I closed it.
Perhaps it will remind you to pray for him.

“Just know, that if you think of me, I am already thinking of you.  I am proud and honored to be your mom, and I will love you, always and forever, from here to eternity.  When you look at the moon, think, first, of the One Who made it, and then think of me, for I will also be thinking of you.”

So, with three days left until he leaves,
I prepare to let my baby go.
I entrust him, his heart, his keeping,
to the One Who knows him best,
and loves him most.

There is no better Repository.
To the Victor go the spoils,
and I wouldn’t have it any other way.