I didn’t learn how to fully trust my children to God until my son deployed to Iraq.
When I learned that my son was going to deploy, a huge knot formed in the pit of my stomach.
It was a long time before that knot would loosen.
It’s not like it was a surprise. From the moment Chris left for basic training, I knew it was a strong possibility, but I still hoped that maybe he’d be sent somewhere else.
After all, he was training to be an MP (Military Police). The army needed MPs at all of its bases around the world. Perhaps he’d get sent to Germany or South Korea. Maybe he’d fulfill his entire tour of duty here in the U.S.A.
Deployment to Iraq wasn’t inevitable—I hoped.
But eventually the orders came through and he was set to deploy. If that weren’t enough, he was going to be sent to one of the few areas in Iraq that was still “hot.”
And did I mention that he would be the “gunner” in the turret of an assault vehicle? (That’s the lucky guy whose head gets to stick out in plain view where everybody can shoot at it.)
It was going to be a long year.
So, how did I get through it?
Sometime in the midst of my worry—I don’t remember exactly when—God reminded me of something. I didn’t hear an audible voice or anything like that, but it was as if He whispered something in my ear.
“Jim, I don’t need to send Chris to Iraq to take him home. I can do that right here.”
It was then that I realized my error in thinking.
I was hoping the Army would send him somewhere “safe.”
There is no such place.
We are fragile people living in an incredibly dangerous world. Safety is an illusion.
I began to think about just a few local tragedies that had happened in the last few years.
A sixteen-year-old dropped dead while he was jogging.
A Marine who had returned safely from a tour in Iraq was gunned down in a robbery.
Several people were killed in a random shooting.
I realized that I have no control over whether my children live or die, particularly once they’re out on their own.
I can pray for them.
I can worry about them.
I can lose sleep over them.
But I am powerless to protect them.
So how did I keep from worrying about my son when he went to Iraq?
I learned to trust him to a sovereign and good God. I learned to rephrase a prayer from the Psalms. As David faces those who want to kill him, he prays:
“But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, ‘You are my God.’
15 My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:14-15a, NIV).
David recognized that his “times,” i.e., his life, death, and everything in between, were in God’s hands. And he was willing to trust God to do what was right.
And so I learned to pray every day concerning my son: “Lord, you are his God, and his times are in your hands.”
Did I pray for his safety?
But I also knew that even if he didn’t come home safely, he was safe with God.
Now that both of my children are grown and on their own, my greatest cause for worry is that I am not able to protect them. And my greatest peace comes from realizing that I can commit them into the care of a heavenly father who loves them.