From the time she was ten months old, my daughter has made it known that she is a fiercely independent lady. I distinctly remember the day I opened up the jar of mashed-up carrots to feed her lunch and as soon as the spoon came within reach, she’d grab it out of my hands and attempt to feed herself. It didn’t matter that she didn’t developmentally possess the hand-eye coordination to put the spoon into her mouth. She only knew that she didn’t want any part in me feeding her anymore. She was going to do it herself. At two, when she couldn’t reach something, she’d just climb a chair or some other piece of furniture to get what she wanted. At five, she’d ask if I could just drop her off at a party instead of staying like all the other moms. So it wasn’t much of a surprise that the other day, at age 12, my independent tween got on a plane by herself and flew back to Phoenix without batting an eyelash. (Meanwhile, I struggled not to break down like a complete train wreck in the airport terminal.)
As I walked back out to my car, I thought about all those times when I had to “let go” of that sweet girl. When she took her first steps. When she started daycare. When she learned to ride a bike without training wheels. When she had her first sleepover. But perhaps one of the hardest “letting go” moments has had to do with that “C” word all divorced parents know well: custody. Custody meant no more tucking my kids in bed every night. It meant not having them each Christmas. Or Thanksgiving. Or Easter. It meant a lot of back and forth and packing and things falling through the cracks. It meant sharing when I didn’t want to share. It meant letting go before I was ready to let go – a concept I’m familiar with all too well. You see, when my son went to be with Jesus, I wasn’t ready to share him yet. I wasn’t ready to let go. I wanted full-time custody of my son on earth for more than just 14 years.
But when those days of entitlement-driven thoughts come, I have to continually remind myself of one key truth: Joe wasn’t really mine to begin with. He was, is, and forever will be the Lord’s. Not only was he created by the God of the universe, but more importantly, he was made His child through the waters of baptism.
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’ ~ Isaiah 43:1
From the moment he was baptized, Joe belonged to the Lord. It wasn’t that I gave up custody or decided to share my custody of Joe with God. Because it wasn’t me that did the sharing. It was God who shared my son with me. I like to think of it this way: God and I had shared custody of Joe while he lived on this earth. But as soon as he breathed his last, God took over full-time custody of Joe forever.
And not only did God share my son with me….He shared HIS Son with me. And with you. And with the entirety of mankind. You see, there’s a completely different custody situation to consider when it comes to our relationship with Jesus. While we often define custody as “guardianship or care of another person”, custody can also be defined as “imprisonment” – which was our reality before Christ came to redeem us. We were prisoners to the law and, consequently, to our own sin. Paul describes it as this:
“Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” ~ Galatians 3:23-27
There is so much peace, so much comfort, so much hope in these words! No longer are we justified by the law, which we could not keep perfectly. But Jesus could and He DID – and by doing so, freed us from the imprisonment of sin. He redeemed us and set us free. We are now saved by His grace and are His children through faith. FOREVER!
For one of my children, this is already a reality. As for my other headstrong, independent child, she is still just as much a child of God while here on this earth as is her brother in heaven. And while I pray that God grants me many more “letting go” moments with her, I pray even more that she would always be in the loving custody of her heavenly Father. May we surrender all those we love to our all-loving God!