Our church had a Good Friday service this year. Daughter Allie did not feel well Friday evening, so she stayed home. Shorty after arriving at church, I received this text message:
Allie: What do I do?
Me: About what?
Allie: The storm. The tornado.
[Unbeknownst to me, tornadoes were apparently in the area.]
Me: It’s ok. R u afraid?
Me: Where did you hear about tornado?
Allie: The sirens, weather channel.
Me: Should I come home?
Me: The storm will pass soon.
Me: Where’s the tornado?
Allie: Versailles supposedly.
[Versailles, KY, is just west of Lexington.]
Me: Ok. I’ll come back.
[By this time, the thunder storm of the century is happening outside the church. And, of course our home.]
Allie: No. I am fine.
Me: Ok. If you get afraid, sit in the stairway at the bottom doorway. I will come if you need me.
Me: Doing ok?
Allie: Yup. Me, CJ and my build a bears are on the stairs. What about u?
[CJ is our beagle.]
Me: Yeah. They’re monitoring the weather here. Should be safe right now. You can relax. 🙂
Needless to say, it was hard to stay focused on the service. Knowing that Allie was home alone, in a possibly dangerous weather situation, was distracting. Plus Allie has traditionally been a weather chicken. She was one of those small children that got really freaked out during thunderstorms. Me, I rarely take tornado warnings seriously. I’m not especially brave, but I feel weather broadcasters often over hype.
But I did take something away from the night. Something that one of our pastors shared, based on Luke 9:23:
Pick up your cross daily and follow me.
This is what hit me: Pick up your cross. Not, pick up your kids [as in after school or band practice]. Not pick up some groceries. Not pick up dinner so the family can eat something before youth group. But pick up your cross. And I realized right then, that I often put my kids in front of the cross. In front of Jesus.
Please stay with me. I’m not advocating loving my children less. But I felt God was saying, “Love me more. Love me more than anything. And treat me like you love me more.” How many times do I not even consider doing something ministry related because I have kids? It might mean giving up a couple hours with them so I can volunteer somewhere. Or maybe a week while I go on a trip. Or prioritizing my time so that spending time with Him is even more important than making sure their lunches are packed.
I felt like God was saying, “I’ll take care of Allie during this storm. Don’t worry about her.” Really, it’s God’s responsibility to take care of the kids. Ultimately. I have to depend on Him. And despite feeling like I should have donned my “Super Mom” cape and braved the thunderstorm to rush home and comfort my daughter, I didn’t. I gave her the opportunity to learn a lesson as well. That God will take care of her when she’s alone. I’ve heard the stories before. Maybe you have too. Like the missionary family in Jerusalem whose daughter was killed in a bus bombing. They allowed her as a teenager to ride the bus alone [as in public transportation]. In Jerusalem. Where suicide bombers roam the streets. And my initial thoughts are: “Man, what in blue blazes were you thinking? Nothing is worth losing your child!” But I suppose Abraham would beg to differ [ie the whole Isaac sacrifice thing]. And so would God [get it…..He gave up Jesus].
So, yes, this has been a bit melodramatic. An almost 13 year old girl home alone during a tornado warning might not stir up thoughts of ultimate sacrifice for you. But really, my point is this: Am I picking up my cross, or am I picking up something else? And too often, I think I choose the something else.