We pet sat a guinea pig a few weeks ago. Coco belongs to my daughter’s friend, and we sometimes adopt him when her family goes on vacation. My girls love feeding him carrot sticks and setting up his fence on our living room floor so the tubby fuzzball can stretch his legs—you know, the fun parts of having a pet. Cleaning the cage, though, was mostly left to me. Which is tricky because do you have any earthly idea how much poop a guinea pig can generate in an hour? It’s seriously unnatural.
Coco’s owners told us we’d have to replace his bedding every three or four days, but after 24 hours I couldn’t stand to let him romp around in his own pee any longer, so I went a little crazy on the guinea pig hygiene. In the ten days Coco was with us, I think I scrubbed his cage 26 times.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration.
Point is, I took extra special care of the guinea pig because he was not mine. He was on loan to us. I wanted to assure his owners we were worthy of pet sitting and would love him like they do. Heaven forbid anything should happen to Coco under our roof!
I feel this way about a guinea pig.
And a million times more about my kids.
My children don’t belong to me, either. They belong to God. And so do yours. They’re on loan to us from their heavenly Father who created them and loves them more than we do, impossible as that seems.
Most days I operate as though I believe that. Until something goes wrong, and then I throw an epic toddler tantrum, screaming mine, mine, mine!
Last Thursday I attended the funeral of a father and child from our school. Throughout the two-hour service, I couldn’t stop my tears from spilling, not even after the funeral ended and I drove home to where my own children were sleeping safe in their beds. Why? Not because I knew the family well but because the weight of such a loss crushes any momma’s heart in empathy.
No mother should have to bury her child, says me.
I never promised you that, says God.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).
I admit these past many days I have fought back fears—of losing my husband and children or of experiencing something terrible happening to them. Now when I step into Walmart or the library or a quiet neighborhood playground, my mind strays to bad places and I imagine what crazy person is lurking nearby ready to shoot.
I find myself praying, Lord, please don’t let anything happen to my kids.
And then one afternoon last week, in the carpool line at school, he spoke back.
They’re not YOUR kids. They’re mine.
What do we do with that?
As parents, we clean the analogous cage and we love on those little people like Jesus does. Yet we cannot forget he has first rights to take them home anytime. All the plans he ordains for their lives are for some good and mighty purpose that we cannot understand.
So my prayer now? I try to lift up my kids to their Father with these words each morning:
Lord, help me to honor you with the way I raise YOUR children today.
And if it’s your will, God, please keep them here with me for a long, long time. No rush returning from your Florida vacation, so to speak.
Whatever the Lord has planned for our children, whether it’s within our grasp or not, let’s never forget to whom they first belong.
God is their almighty Father.
And we are forever blessed to be called their mom.
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