Bean-Bag Tag!We have lots of Hillis family variations of hide-n-seek. My all time favorite is beanie-bag tag, in which the person who is IT counts to 50 while everyone else hides in a dimly lit basement or outside at after dusk, and then tries to run and catch everyone else by throwing the bean bag at them and hitting them with it. Since I am slow but have a pretty good aim, this is a game I could actually win from time to time by getting everybody OUT! Every one of you remembers the joy of finding the person who is hiding, lost to our sight!
It is so natural as a parent to chase after our kids, literally and figuratively.
There are times to chase, and as they get older there are also times not to go running after them!
To Chase or Not to Chase: That is the Question!I particularly struggled with this question when one of our high-maintanance kids was sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night at age 16, making irresponsible choices about school, and choosing friends who were corrupting her morals.
Saying no to our yes, up to our down, right to our left, and generally speaking, exhibiting those unique qualities characteristic of kids with reactive attachment disorder--
at every step.
I felt EXHAUSTED and FRUSTRATED and CONCERNED about where she would end up!
I felt OVERWHELMED with the demands of homework and sports and music lessons and friends and life for 10 kids, particularly since 1 of them seemed to need more attention than all the other 9 combined!
Faced with this conundrum, Brian and I were praying, "Lord, do we go after this lost sheep or do we focus on the disciples?"
We kept asking in prayer for the Lord's advice and direction, as there was NO WAY to care for the other 9 wanting to head in the right direction AND to care for the very needy one who was daily being pulled into more and more danger and destruction. After several weeks of praying with no apparent answer, the Lord whispered to me by His Spirit ever so simply and clearly one morning while I was looking in the mirror and brushing my teeth and not even thinking of our conundrum:
"She is not a lost sheep. Where is her face pointed? Lost sheep would point their faces toward home if they knew where home was. Her face is pointed away."
Then I understood that Luke 15 contrasts the difference in what the parent/shepherd does with a prodigal versus lost sheep. He lets one go, and goes chasing after the other! All I needed to do was to just copy the prodigal's father in Luke 15. Let the prodigal go her way until she wants to return--
Trusting You, Lord, to be her Father as she wanders.
Trusting You, Lord, to bring ours and yours home to Yourself and to us, once they come to their senses.
Then, after a few days, in our good Father's sweet way, the Lord added to this sense of direction by a paraphrase from Acts 19:9,
But some of them become obstinate,...so Paul left them, [and he] took the discples with him.Another version expresses that last part this way, "he went on with the disciples."
Brian and I experienced the living and abiding word of God that was exactly what we needed in this moment.
"Many became obstinate, so he left them and went on with the disciples!"
I do not expect this would be the same answer for everyone, but it was our Wonderful Counselor's answer to us in our particular situation.
Please don't misunderstand this "leaving." We continue unchanged in our abiding and enduring love for them, and pray for them and keep the relationship with them. But our focus is on those who are disciples and on those who may be lost, whose faces are pointed towards home.
And we continue to hold the prodigals tightly in prayer, believing that faith even as small as a mustard seed can move those mountains of fear, theirs and ours!
I wish I could say that life was easy from the day we fully understood God's answer to our prayer; it wasn't easy, but as Aslan says to Lucy in Chronicles of Narnia, it was "good!"
So the end of the story is this: our prodigal did come home after many years of wandering, which culminated in two years on the streets of Atlanta when she was 19 and 20. Now she is 23 and doing very well - we talk by phone almost every day!
So let me close with a new appreciation of Jesus's word in Luke 14,
How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate!Just this week end, yet again, I felt nudged to leave one of our kids to the Lord's care and allow Him to gather this sweet soul of my heart, rather than try to meet all the needs. I took a step away and let the Lord gather this treasure--and gather, He did! I am amazed by the miraculous transformation that occurs with even mustard seed sized faith!!
It does, indeed, still move mountains! Just dig that tiny hole of faith, instead of exhausting yourself with running!
May you and yours experience the Lord's Wonderful Counsel and Presence, this and every day!