We were on our annual college trek. My parents were dropping me off for my sophomore year. At a gas station, my dad got out to pump gas. My mom quickly turned and looked at me.
“I know you and your sister do things you shouldn’t when you’re away at school,” my mom said as she nervously checked to see if my dad could hear.
My heart skipped a beat. What did she know? I quickly scanned my memory bank to try and pinpoint to what specific event she could be referring. Meanwhile, I did my best to keep a poker face.
“I know you do things you shouldn’t,” my mom repeated. “I just wanted you to know that every night I pray God keep you both safe until you grow up and learn.”
Amazingly, miraculously, graciously God did.
Twenty some years later, I am now a father. In a few years, I will be driving my children to college. This morning, I simply have to drive my daughter to Junior High School for the first time.
The world she is entering terrifies me. When our children are little, we can shelter them. We have a certain amount of control over their environment and behavior. As they grow older, though, our control and influence diminishes.
Today, as I drop my daughter at Middle School for the first time, that diminishing begins. Puberty and peer pressure will soon become torrential forces beating against her heart and mind.
As I sit here this morning, contemplating this new stage in her life, I find comfort in the first verse my daughter memorized when she entered Sunday School seven years ago. “Train a child in the way he should go,” wise, old King Solomon once wrote, “and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
I cannot force my daughter to believe in Jesus her Savior. In the end, the decision is hers. I can, however, train her. I can share and show her God’s love and guidance.
As I take my daughter to school today, I worry, though. I worry if I have done that well enough. I know I definitely have not done it perfectly.
Today I cling to God’s forgiveness and I pray. I pray because I know that my daughter will make mistakes – as I did, as my sisters and brothers did, as my parents did. I pray because I trust in God’s full and free forgiveness.
I pray that God give my daughter Christian friends who will influence her. I pray that God help me to continue to guide and comfort and correct her.
I pray that whatever poor choices she makes – whatever hurts and heartbreaks she must suffer because of them – that God keep her safe. I pray that he not give up on her. I pray that he keep her close to him all her days.
I pray that she never forgets – that she never stops trusting in Jesus her Savior. Because in the end, that’s the only thing that matters.
I want my daughter in heaven with me. So today I pray, “God, please keep her soul safe and close to you.”