"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." - Jesus (John 17:15-17)
This scripture worked its way into my brain this morning as I drove away from the airport. I got up extra early today to take our daughter, Naomi, and her husband, Craig, over to Tampa International so they could board their United Airlines flight back to Connecticut and home.
Sometimes, back when Naomi and her brother Andrew were growing up, I really did pray that God would somehow insulate my children from the world. Like Jesus, I wasn't asking God to whisk them away so much as I was asking God to "protect them from the evil one." Civil liberties and freedom were not exactly #1 on my list; I was more than willing for God to bend the rules and intervene - with or without my children's consent. "Just get them grown, Lord," was a constant refrain.
But there remains that element of choice - even during the formational years; and choice is still a daily option. Intellectually, I understand that being "sanctified by the truth" is not anything that can be imposed externally... "Here, let me sanctify you by the truth." It simply doesn't take. But, emotionally, I wanted God to skip the free will part and simply ride herd!
But instead we had to watch - in much the same way that God observes his children - and we have to do our very best to make sure that the truth is evident and authentic and accessible. Freedom is a necessary building block to wholeness. Guidance, yes; example, most important; teaching, imperative. But the moment we take away freedom we also take away legitimate growth.
Years of pain and struggle and heartbreak have now yielded to joy. Andrew and Naomi are both young adults, and our children are making the kind of positive choices that - had they been imposed without regard to their own choice (and, believe me, I would have - had I been God), and had they not emerged from their growing understanding of truth - would not have allowed them to develop the strength of character that defines them today.
Jesus pointed to God's word as truth. The evil one is resourceful; but God's word is a sword more than equal to the task. We simply need to immerse ourselves in truth so we are more than ready when the time comes.
PRAYER: Jesus walked this Earth well-armed with truth. Challenge us, we pray, to likewise prepare ourselves for anything that may come our way. Amen.