By Juliet Sharrow
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Obedience to God might feel like it will kill you. But I assure you, most of us aren’t called to literally lay down our lives in obedience to the Lord. Yet we are asked to obey Him no matter what. And in doing that, it sometimes feels like we will die.
But the fruit of obedience is peace, not death! If we truly obey Him no matter how hard it is, He fills us with a peace that is beyond explanation.
The test of my obedience came through my prodigal son.
Letting go of him was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. You see my son isn’t just any child. He’s a brilliant, young man with a genius IQ who also has Asperger’s. And with that disability comes many daunting challenges.
He sees the world differently than you and I do. He’s naïve and lacks common sense. But he is far more brilliant than most of us will ever understand. And at the ripe young age of 18, he decided he was a man with every right to do what he pleased. And he chose to do things that were unacceptable in our home.
We had a choice to make. And when my son spoke the words “I would rather be homeless than live here and follow your rules”, it pierced straight through my heart.
From the very beginning of this rebellion, God nudged my heart that it was time to let him go. He spoke to me through the stories of Isaac and Ishmael. He told me that this son, the oldest of my 3 boys, was my Isaac. And that I needed to lay him on the altar and give him to the Lord. (Genesis 22:2)
I argued with God many times over this. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t want to let go. How could I? He couldn’t make it in the cruel world alone; he needed me!
And that’s where I was so wrong.
After months of trying to help my son in my own strength, God opened my eyes to the truth. I had been arguing with the Lord once again that there was no way I could let my son go and be homeless. I told God, “Don’t you understand? He has Asperger’s!”
And the Lord assured me that He did understand, and that He did know what my son had because He created him. Then He spoke these words right to my heart. “I need you to get out of my way!”
And then He showed me what I had been incapable of seeing. I saw how I had always protected my son, fighting his battles and picking up the pieces for him . Then I saw the consequences of my help. I kept interfering with what the Lord was trying to do in him. The Lord could not get to him because I kept standing in the way!
I decided that day that I was going to let go and obey God. And the very next day in church, the speaker shared the story of Abraham and Ishmael, paraphrasing the story with the words “Let him go!” Both my husband and I were covered with Holy Spirit bumps. There was no denying that the Lord was confirming the word that I had already heard! I had no choice but to obey.
I knew that I had to explain to my son the choices that I was making. He thought that I did not love him and so that’s why I chose to do what I did. I sat on his bed and wept as I explained to him that what I was doing was the hardest thing I ever had to do. And how I did not want to do this. But that God had asked me to trust Him.
I showed him in Scripture where God told Abraham that both Isaac and Ishmael would be blessed because of their father’s obedience. And I told him that even though I didn’t want to do this I was going to obey God. And that I would cling to the fact that God would bless him for my obedience. (Genesis 22:15-18)
The day that my son left our home was a day I will never forget. But as he sat at a local gas station all alone, I gave him to the Lord.
And I can tell you that I have never experienced the peace that God gave me that night. I slept through the night like I hadn’t in months. Such a calm came over me that God was in control. That no matter what happened, He held my son in the palm of His hand.
And as I continued to walk this journey of obedience with the Lord, He removed all fear. I had feared that my son would commit suicide because he battled depression all his life, and now he was in a situation that truly was depressing! But my loving God once again spoke and calmed my fearful heart. He said, “I know the number of his days and I hold him in the palm of My hand. If I choose to take him home with Me, you will be ok.” And so I grabbed hold of that promise from God. I know that no matter what happens God will give me the strength to endure.
All fear for my son is gone. I have truly surrendered my son to the Lord. He was never really mine to begin with. God just allowed me the wonderful privilege of getting to raise him and love him for 18 years.
The end of this story has not been written yet. My son made many hard choices after leaving our home, finally ending up in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. And he has a long road ahead of him.
But his choices don’t reflect on me or become my burdens any more. I am free to love him from a distance and watch what God is doing in his life. It is so freeing! I will always be his mother, but my time of raising him is over. It’s between him and God now.
I hang on to every promise God has given me. I know that He is in control and that His will for my son’s life will come to pass. I can only pray and rest in the peace that God has given me.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Phillipians 1:6
I can’t wait to see what God does in my son’s life. And you know that I will be his biggest cheerleader, cheering him on from the sidelines, letting God be his coach (not me) and watching to see his blessing unfold.