From the Mouth of Babes

I was driving, 4-year-old Bella and 2-year-old Chloe in the back seat, when out of nowhere, Bella said something that made my blood run cold. “Mommy, I think I want to die in about four years.” Here was the response in my head, “[slamming on the brakes and yelling] Excuse me, what did you just say, young lady? You want to die? No way, I’ve already lost one child so the quota is filled – no one else gets to die before me, got it?!” Given my actual state of semi-paralysis (while still somehow driving), I managed to maintain what might have been mistaken for a calm appearance, replying, or rather, breathing through my vocal cords so that this sound emerged, “Oh?”
“Yeah,” she said. “What would you think about that, Mommy?”
Deep breath. “Honey, I would be so sad if you died. You know how sad I was when Eva died, and I didn’t even get the chance to know her like I know you. I would miss you so much.”
“Yeah, but I could be with you for a little while, and then I’d get to go to heaven and be with Jesus and Eva! Why wouldn’t you want me to be in heaven with Jesus, Mommy?”
I suddenly find I cannot breathe. My heart is in my feet and I’m actively fighting back tears now. What can I say to that? So I breathe deeply of the oxygen polluted with the stench of my fear, and I tell her the truth. “I guess I’m just selfish, my love. I don’t want to give you up, even if it means you get to go to heaven and be with Jesus.”
She’s right, of course. I should want that for her more than anything, more than my own emotional comfort in this life, more than my selfish desires to watch her grow up and have her own family. But do I really value her eternal life more than her earthly one? I say that I do, that everything I have belongs to God, that I trust Him with my life and that it’s His to use. But if I would withhold my daughter’s life from him in my heart, all that I say about my life being His is a lie. I ought to hold her life with open hands, recognizing it as the gift it is, but my daughter showed me in an instant that my hands are clenched into fists, as if clutching her in them could guarantee her earthly safety.
Yet, can my desperate attempts to protect her really keep her from harm? I can build fences around her to protect her from cars, but those same fences can’t protect her from unseen dangers in our own house. I can give her every vaccination possible, but I can’t vaccinate her against childhood leukemia or heart disease. The truth is, I have little control over her life.
But there is a God who loves her more than I can imagine, who has created a life for her beyond this one where disease and danger will not exist. How could this life compare to what she would have in heaven? And she understands that truth. My 4-year-old is teaching me that this life is is not my home, and I need to hold it loosely.
Tomorrow on earth is not a guarantee, but a future in heaven is, if we follow Jesus. That’s what really matters, yet my focus gets so cloudy. I want to clutch onto comfort and prosperity and health for my family like a security blanket. But the only true security is found in God. He does not guarantee my comfort, but he does guarantee my salvation through Jesus. And that is enough. I need to remind myself daily that it’s enough, and that as long as I’m pointing my kids to Jesus, it’s enough for them, too. I need to release the fear of what their futures could hold and really trust God with their lives.