If you have been to the Target or the Walmart in Greenville in the past few weeks you probably have noticed the deluge of college students gearing up for life on their own. It is no small feat and many students and parents have been gathering dorm/apartment essentials plus toiletry items and school supplies. For some this marks the first time that a child or grandchild has gone off to college but for others this is old hat. When families experience the last child leaving it might mark the beginning of the “empty nest” season of life.
Parents react differently to the prospect of weeks and months with no kids in the house. For some it can be quite a difficult transition. At our former church a good friend had daughters a few years older than our kids. When asked about how she handled the change when her girls left she responded, “It is better than the alternative.” Partly she was thinking about a family from Covenant that had recently lost a teen son who was an integral part of the youth group. Those parents only wished they could send him off to school. Also, she was thinking about the natural progression of life. Like it or not, time moves on. People grow older. There is nothing we can do to stop it. Surely it is better for our children to go out into the world to find ways they can best serve God and mature into caring, helpful adults than to remain in the dependency of youth.
Of course, these transitions can be sad and even lonely at times. Our secure hope is that these stages of life are part of God’s plan for humanity. He promises to be with us every step of the way as we move forward in our personal and spiritual development and through the changes life brings. This is also true for our children and grandchildren.
Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Paul goes on to instruct us not to be anxious about anything but to allow the peace of God to guard our hearts and minds. (This week I started to memorize Philippians 4:4-9 as it is filled with relevant encouragement and as I should get back on the scripture memorization bandwagon I fell off of soon after high school and college.)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) In the pleasant as well as the more difficult seasons of life we can rejoice that God is working in and through us and in Christians of all ages.