by Tim Pauls
About the time this article hits the web, our older son will be getting married. We blinked, and the boy traded in Legos for a bride.
I’ve come to appreciate that babies are born as helpless blobs: especially for first-time parents, this is a great mercy. Sure, a newborn is totally dependent and needy, and parents develop an abundance of worries as they learn their art. But along with worry, they also have control: they can do something about their worries by caring for their kid. A baby that can’t even roll over on his own isn’t going to outrun or outwit his parents any time soon, so I’ve always been thankful that, as I learned how to be a father, I had the upper hand.
The balance is tipping, though. We’re all self-sufficient now, more or less, and it will be that way until our boys need to care for us in our infirmities. I’m not faster or smarter anymore. I’m still wiser, I think, but only because I’ve had more years to make more mistakes.
And our older boy is getting married. He’s leaving father and mother to be joined to his wife. We’re not going to be interfering busybodies, so the joy of the wedding day also destroys any illusion that we’re still in control. The control is gone.
However, as any parent knows, the worry remains.
And prayer. We also have prayer. We’ve prayed for our sons from the day they were born. We’ve prayed for their future wives for years, whoever they might turn out to be; and we are grateful for the Lord’s faithfulness.
All of this change moves us more to prayer. Luther famously argues for prayer in the Large Catechism, saying that we should pray because God commands it, because He promises to answer and because “He Himself arranges the words and form of prayer for us” (LC 3:22). For all of this, we say “Amen” and give thanks to God. Here is a little insight I gain on prayer as I slip on a suitcoat to go to a wedding: the loss of control magnifies the gift of prayer. For if there is no longer something I can do, I must commit such matters to the Lord … and actually trust that He will keep His promises without my meddling!
Of the ways to lose control, watching a son drive off with his bride is perhaps the most joyous, and there will be plenty of sadder occasions where there is nothing to do but pray. But in Christ, the promises of God are far more sure than our feeble efforts, and His promise still holds: “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).
Timothy Pauls serves as pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Boise, Idaho; and as a collegium member for DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel.