I'm not sure who's got more back-to-school butterflies - the kid who's going or the parent who's sending him. When it was our kids, it's like everybody took a crazy pill that morning. Tons of stuff to remember, tons of questions. Thankfully, my wife's a super organizer - she's was the glue on those mornings of new beginnings.
Now it's our kids sending their kids to school. And, in a lot of ways, there's more reasons for back-to-school jitters than ever. It's more cruel in school than it used to be. Innocence is gone by about second grade these days. Really big temptations hit way too soon. And there are a lot of lies being taught as truth.
Last week our oldest grandchild beamed down on the strange planet known as Juniorhigh. Like a lot of schools, they've instituted some security measures that would have seemed extreme when our children landed on that planet. But these are different times.
Which can make parental fears as much a part of back-to-school as new sneakers and notebooks. Understandable fears. Not to mention those butterflies your son or daughter is hosting.
That's why our son and our daughter and their spouses have the Prayer Chair. Their young scholars sat in it just like their parents did years ago on the night before school started. I don't know what you're picturing when I say "Prayer Chair," but ours sure wasn't some celestial-like throne, surrounded with an eerie glow. It was just a plain old blue armchair. But on the night before school started - and at other important times - that chair became holy ground.
That's where our children - and now our grandchildren - were committed to God's keeping every minute of this new school year. It's where a family planted their feet on a promise from God: "I know Whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him..." (2 Timothy 1:12). Except that "what I have entrusted" had names - the kids' names. We covered their teachers, their friends - old and new, their studies, their temptations, their choices. A lot of butterflies flew away at the Prayer Chair.
I had the opportunity to pray with my daughter this year just after she'd sent her firstborn to Planet Juniorhigh. My prayer for her and our grandchild went something like this:
"Lord, You made a promise, and it's bigger than any fears or anxieties or questions we may have on this emotional day. Here's what we're counting on. You said You tend Your flock 'like a shepherd.' You 'gather the lambs in Your arms' and You carry them 'close to Your heart' (Isaiah 40:11). You know the 'lambs' we've sent out today into a place where there are plenty of wolves. But we know the Almighty God, our all-powerful Shepherd is carrying them close to His heart everywhere they go. They're out of our hands, but they're not out of Yours. They're beyond the sound of our voice, but they're not beyond Yours. They're out of our sight, but they're never out of Yours. So we know they're OK. And because they're OK, so are we."
This is why "God has not given us (as a mom, as a dad) a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
That's a good thing. Because a fearful or freaking out parent just breeds more butterflies for their kids.
We really do have "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19). At these anxious, sometimes bittersweet, crossroads of life, it is so game-changing to belong to a Savior - a Shepherd - like Jesus.