Lengthening the Leash

For the past few hours, I have been running around like a kid who drank an espresso. I bought all the yellow things. I purchased tiny toiletries. I even bought new underwear for my oldest son.

Why the sudden show of my inner crazy?

We are sending our oldest son to camp for a week. A week in the woods without us. I have been playing it cool as a cucumber, but one glance at the packing list made it real today.

I did what I do when I am anxious.  I went into preparation mode. You would think I would have learned by now to let the Lord lasso me and draw my hurried, worried heart unto His loving lap and His listening ear. But no, I did all the things instead.

Like a toddler who just needs to have her little tantrum and get all the unregulated emotion out, the Lord (and also my discerning husband) let me check all the things off my list.

Then, I finally sat down to face what was really going on below the surface. Fear. Anxiety. Unbelief. An overgrown view of self and a marginalized view of the vastness of God.

I did all the small things in my control because I was not ready to remember that the big, most important things are not in my control, not by a long stretch.


I cannot control my son’s safety while he is at camp. I have to trust the Spirit in him, in his counselors and his friends.

I cannot control my son’s behavior while he is gone. I cannot micromanage his diet, his bedtime, his use of his limited spending money. He may drink all the slurpies and none of the veggies. And if he does, he will learn through natural consequences that are not being meted out by my motherly hand.

But most significantly,  I cannot make my child encounter Christ more deeply.  I can have him memorize Scripture (as he has been this summer), but I cannot make him see Christ as beautiful.

I know that this last, most salient  point is true all of the time, but clearly my heart does not fully believe this to be the case. My proximity to my child masks my powerlessness to initiate or sustain the most significant things that I most yearn and pray for his life. But now, as I am meticulously labeling and packing his duffle back to send him hours away, the truth is clear as day.

He is not mine. He is not ours. He is on loan to us from His Creator. It is His to control and compel our son, not ours. It is His to captivate his twelve-year old soul with the Cross, not ours.

This lengthening of the leash is a simultaneous stretching of my faith.

Do I really believe to be Christ to be his all in all? Unfortunately, I often live like I believe Christ is to fill in the gaps that I leave from time to time. I have inadvertently made my mothering more central than God’s forever fathering.

When the Apostle Paul was writing his last personal letter to his son and protege in the faith,  he penned a verse that haunts me.

I know whom I am believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 2 Timothy 1:12.  

Paul worked like a dog, but he trusted like a loved son. He gave himself to the work God had entrusted to him, but when it was time to pass the baton, he did so with full confidence. He was not reluctant to hand over the church-planting reigns to a timid Timothy. Rather, his constant experiences of the faithfulness of God enabled his entrusting his kingdom call to Timothy.

I can send my son to camp on Sunday because God is faithful and always has been. My experiences of God’s character enable me to learn to entrust more and more of my son’s life to Him.

And this is just training wheels. Soon it will be high school, then driving, then college,  then marriage.

But God is faithful, so I can prayerfully lengthen the leash.


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