One of the hard things about excellent adventures and travelling is what you leave behind. In this case, I have left my three adult children and I miss them. Our son Johnny is in Fiji on a short term mission trip. He left just before we did and we have not heard a huge amount from him – just two very long text messages, we know he is ok but we also know he is way out of his comfort zone.
We have also been concerned about our other son Michael who has not been well – a nasty virus which he has had for about six weeks and lost much weight. He is doing an honours thesis this year and has had two 6000 essays to hand in at the same time.
Being away has not been easy, as my natural instinct is to be there, to help them, love them, look after them, encourage them – in physical practical ways – but I can’t. I am on the other side of the world. But I can pray.
Just before we left I attended two conferences – yes, I am a conference junkie (not normally) where Sharon Morris-May spoke – she is Arch Hart’s daughter and a guru on marriage relationships. She gave an amazing talk on Psalm 91 which I have been thinking about since my arrival here in Oxford – our God is our safe place and where we can seek refuge at all times. It is a beautiful Psalm – one of my favourites – I like it all, but I love this image:
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” v4
“Because they love me, says the Lord, I will rescue them; I will protect them, for they acknowledge my name. They will call on me, and I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will deliver theme and honour them. With long life I will satisfy them and show them my salvation.” v14-16
Yes I am a slow learner. My God is not just my God. He is my children’s God. He is their loving Father, not their Grandfather. He is watching over them much better than I can. I am still learning about being a wise Mum and my children have all grown up!
At our last family dinner a couple of weeks ago, I asked Johnny what I could pray for. He looked at me and said “that I won’t be grumpy and get in bad moods”. I was a little surprised, as he is not really a grumpy kind of guy. He looked at me. “Mum, I am going to be with 80 other people all day and I need some space. Why do you think that I am taking The Magic Faraway Tree away with me? This is one of my favourite kid’s books and I am planning on hiding away when it all gets too much and disappear into a world that is familiar and seems like home to me!” The words of my six foot tall, skinny, trendy inner city kid! He is an avid bookworm and often has his nose in a book – usually with a glass of milo and jar of pretzels.
I love this book too! I have vivid memories of reading it myself and sharing it with my children. It is a great world to escape to! But there is a better safe place than the Magic Faraway Tree and I know that Johnny knows this too. Psalm 91 tells us where that safe place is. I pray that each of us learns to take refuge in this safe place while we are away from each other.