As we take our college-bound daughter up the elevator in the empty dorm, we fight back a heavy case of déjà vu.
And, honestly, a few tears.
She’s ready to go. This college and major have been her dream, her goal, since she got her first tour of the meteorology building at age eleven. Though she has butterflies, she’s eager to start life on her own.
For my wife and I, this day wraps up thirty-three years of active parenting. It’s the end of an era. Three other times we’ve loaded up a car with all the necessaries for dorm life and made the trip, unpacking and setting up the room to make it homey – despite the stark, prison-like ambience of the halls.
We help her feel at home, knowing that our home would never be the same.
Two images in back-to-back psalms bring me comfort. Psalm 127:4 says:
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Arrows do one thing well – they take the battle far beyond the reach of a swordsman. Like arrows, we launch our children into the fray, knowing their reach will be far beyond our circles of influence, long past our lifespans. Over the years, I have often thought of how hard the spiritual battle will be for my kids as our society becomes increasingly post-Christian.
If that analogy feels too warlike, then Psalm 128:3 paints a more idyllic picture:
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Here, the image is one of blessing. A vine supplies wine, olive shoots give oil. Oil and wine, in the Bible, are symbols of gladness, strengthening the heart (Ps. 104:15) and indicating God-sent prosperity (Joel 2:24). Our kids start at our table, but then grow to reach the world with goodness.
As I watch her converse with fellow students over lunch, I know my daughter takes with her the values and convictions of our family.
Arrows can’t fly until we let them go.
Vines don’t bless until we let them grow.
Lord, what a privilege it is to invest in another person’s life. Thank you for the children you have blessed us with. Use them to convict and bless the world far beyond our reach, bringing another generation into the light of your love.