Next week, I will send my kids back to school. I will have a second grader, a kindergartener, and a preschooler. I’m not sure how that happened (Weren’t they just little babies last week?!), and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it — about going back to school in general.
But if I’m really honest, my biggest emotion is fear.
I fear that when I say goodbye to them in the morning, they won’t come home in the afternoon.
Schools aren’t always a safe place anymore, and it terrifies me. The news of shootings in places we formerly thought of as “safe” haunts me. Movie theaters. Malls. Churches. Concerts. Elementary schools. Classrooms.
I know that death could come for any of us on any day and at any time, but there’s something absolutely soul-level jarring about the suddenness of death and the shock of terror when it happens in what should be safe spaces.
Because those should all be safe spaces.
When my son started kindergarten, I breathed a sigh of relief that just outside of his classroom was an exterior door. He can just run, I thought. When he was in first grade, I realized I was holding back tears some mornings as I watched the bus pull away. What if he doesn’t come back? I thought. Now as I prepare to send two of my children on the bus to that school, my heart continues its push and pull with the daily curiosity and avoidance of the news.
Some of my emotion is fueled by my own anxious tendencies. Some of it is fueled by actual happenings in the world, in our country, in our state, in our backyards.
All of it is fueled by fear.
Fear displaces almost every other emotion. It kicks out joy and it steamrolls peace. It takes up the space where trust should reside. Fear leaves a bitter taste in what could otherwise be sweet situations and circumstances. Fear swallows me when I give it space. I think I’m giving fear an inch, and it unfolds into a mile.
The only way I can even begin to combat fear is to focus in sharply on God and His response to others who have trusted Him in spite of their fear.
Gideon was one such fearful person. Throughout his story in Judges 6, we see God’s patience and care for His fearful servant. God calls Gideon to deliver Israel from the grasp of wayward Midian, and right away Gideon asks God a zillion scared questions. I love the “But what about . . .” excuses he lamely throws out. Gideon asks God for proof. He asks God to choose someone else. He gets all panicky and flail-y in his fear. Then, he gets the job done. And the whole time, the Lord reassures Gideon. He tells Gideon that he is a warrior, that God will be with him, that Gideon will succeed. God doesn’t rush Gideon through the fear; rather, He gives Gideon what he needs to overcome it. At some points in the story (like here, when God reduces Gideons’ troops to mere numbers), God does push Gideon forward, and reluctantly, Gideon trusts and presses on.
There are dozens of stories about fellow fear overcomers throughout the Bible: Jonah, Sarah, Abraham, Esther, Daniel, Moses — people afraid of what or where they were called to be.
Friends, we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who have gone before, who have trusted in the One who crushes fear. It bolsters my fearful heart to bring their stories to mind and to tuck into my heart God’s response of patience and love. He doesn’t make them feel silly about or a slave to their fear, but He offers His strength and peace, placing His great hand on their backs and gently pushing them forward.
Which is just what I need.
For me, being a woman of courage looks like believing in and leaning on the God who demolishes fear. It looks like sending my kids to school. It looks like believing with all my strength that God stands with us and He stands with our kids. It looks like remembering that God goes first, especially into the places where parents cannot. He goes before. He’s ready and waiting for our kids.
They do not walk through those doors alone.
The only One who can accompany our kids and provide everything they need is standing by them already. With our love tucked in their hearts and God by their sides, we have done all that we can do to prepare them for school.
We’ll hold their hands while walking into that big brick building, while leading them to the homeschool table, while walking them into their dorm.
We hold their hands, and God holds them close.
A Prayer for Back-to-School
May I put my trust in You, knowing You go before my kids as they go to school. Pave their way, Lord, the they may see You in each and every bump. Help them to make friends, to work hard, to have a mind open and ready for the kind of learning that goes far beyond reading and writing. Keep my love tucked deep into their hearts.
Help them to be brave and kind, Lord . . . and help their mom be the same.
The only One who can accompany our kids and provide everything they need is standing by them already. -@annaerendell: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
It saddens me that in the world, as it is now, we are forced to consider heinous shootings in our schools. School should be a caring, safe haven for our children. Fear creeps in in every possible crevice today. I take heart knowing that the Bible continually refers to God as the “Lord of Armies”. There is a continual battle going on between the forces of good and evil. We see the aftermath of a spiritual battle in the heavenlies every day. It seems like the enemy is winning some days, but we can can take heart that God and Good finally triumph. The Lord of Armies will fight for our children and our prayers will provide a hedge of protection. Fear brings us to our knees in reliance upon the Lord. We can trust or we can control, but we can’t do both. Joining with you in releasing my fears unto the Lord who is More than able to hold my worry-filled heart. Praying for the safety of ALL our precious children.
Anna Rendell says
It saddens me too, Bev. What a world. Come, Lord Jesus.
Michele Morin says
Thanks, Anna, and having just taught the lesson about Gideon to my preschoolers in Sunday School, I’m smiling an amen to the over-the-top assurance that God gives us in the midst of our fears. We don’t have to be a fearless super-mom–but we do need to hand our worries and that sick feeling in the pit of our stomach over to God.
Blessings to you and your littles at the beginning of another year of Trust.
Amen Michelle x
Anna Rendell says
Thank you Michele! Gideon is a favorite of my preschooler, too 🙂
Denise Pass says
Beautiful! Thank you! There is such a sweet spot of surrender in entrusting our children to God’s care. He is the safest place. After homeschooling since 1997, I just sent my youngest (9th grade) to school. Letting go is hard, but with 4 of mine in college, I know the road to letting go is done best when we place them in His hands continually!
Anna Rendell says
“He is the safest place”. YES. Love that succinct reminder to carry with me.
Denise Pass says
Thank you for the lovely prayer I am a teacher and there are days I have to pray and say Lord keep us safe he entrust us with your babies and we take it seriously . Thank you for reminding me about Gideon.
Praying for your year ahead Tammy for good things, protection, provision and blessings for you and the children you teach!
Anna Rendell says
Oh Tammy, I bet. I bet. Thank you for your faithful work!! Teachers are legit my heroes.
Jennifer Frisbie says
Anna, this spoke to my momma heart today and speaks right into a specific situation in my life with someone so close to me. I’m sharing your words with her today, as well as with many others. Thank you for your wisdom and speaking His word into anxious hearts this morning.
Anna Rendell says
So glad I’m not alone, Jennifer (and neither are you). We can do this.
Anna, I feel for you especially with all the shootings lately in America. It is something that I never grew up with in society of people having guns unless they were a farmer and I grew up in the suburbs in Australia. Here in NZ the crazy horror unfolded of a mad man in March. The world has changed and we live in different times BUT the one thing that hasn’t changed is God. He goes before and makes a way and goes after us I can’t exactly remember this verse word for word but He is always with us and we cannot control anything really we simply have to trust in a God and take courage that he gives us over fear and march on. Praying for your children and for you sweet mama for Gods gracious protection and blessings over you all. He will be by their side, by your side and mine, every single minute of every day. With such an awesomely powerful God we have nothing to fear. Thank you for this post
Anna Rendell says
It’s a pretty crazy world these days. Thankful for that holy protection.
Monique Hernandez says
Thank you so much Anna for your perfect words. My fear is that my youngest will is spending her last year in high school this year. Her two older brothers are young men set in their careers and one even just engaged. I’m fearful that she will be in the “real” world soon. I trust in our Lord Jesus Christ and I know he has all our beautiful babies.
Monica Brown says
Dear Anna, thank you for putting into words so beautifully the feelings on so many of our hearts. My son and daughter-in-law are teachers in Newtown and were in a school a half mile down the road from Sandy Hook the day of the horrific shooting . They were in lockdown as the situation was unfolding and I was watching this on television in sheer panic. I called my church and had one of the pastors pray with me over the phone as I didn’t know what else to do until later through a text heard they were safe. I pray God’s hand of protection daily on my little grandchildren and for my son ,daughter-in-law and daughter who are teachers. I knew that day it was God Alone who spared their lives. I remind them of that as they also struggle with fears for their little children. Our God reigns, and is on the throne, and only by placing our loved ones in his care daily can we have any peace about sending our loved ones out into the world each day. God bless you & your family ,Monica B.
Margo Stretch says
Thank you Anna. Beautifully put, and so many of us can relate to your fears. My youngest is starting University and dorm life in another city as I type this. What helps me is to remember that even if I were able to remain with my children it would not ensure ‘safety’ … bad things could happen as you said, in any regular place in broad daylight, even if their dad and I would be present. It is not my presence that will keep my daughter safe from experiencing various levels of violence or horrific acts. My peace of mind and heart will be found in giving God what He is worth – “worship / worth-ship” (as Tim Keller teaches)… He is my four (now adult) children’s Perfect Father who is never careless or distracted or not present. He is far more qualified to care for them and meet their needs in any situation than I am no matter how ‘good’ a mama I may be. My role now is to actively place my trust in Him for my children and grandchildren – through prayer. He convicted me one day years ago, showing me I was actually placing my trust in fear (yikes!!), essentially placing my trust in the Enemy. Seeing it that way has helped me to turn away from focusing on Fear, to focusing on the author of my faith and the giver of peace. I pray now that He will be our continual source of peace and strength and faith, as us mamas and papas release the children he’s entrusted us to raise back into His care every time fear threatens to steal our inheritance – our joy, our trust, our assurance of his goodness. And yes: May our children experience today freedom and protection from violence wherever they are!
thankyou for this..i know most moms have some fear or anxiety over this ! I was taught many years ago two things : one ..to balance life out. which means sometimes our emotions God uses to teach us things and strengthen us.
and two that fear often used by the enemy stands for :
so is it false evidence appearing real to scare us into standing still or shrinking back ?
while we must use our emotions to navigate away from danger and things we must also balance life out with a greater sense of faith.
I pray for every mom who has to make decisions to send her children to school , all I know is no matter where they are if we pray then God is there with them ! whether that’s the mall..theatre..school etc.
Bev @Walking Well With God says
Amen! Fear is just the liar running out of breath! Joining with you in claiming trust over fear.
Thank you so much for that prayer. I just dropped off my crying Kindergartener and my anxious third grader at school. Many other parents see my kids crying and just stare. I’m trying to help them be brave but I too am crying and anxious. Parenting is so tough most days I feel like I’m failing them. So I especially appreciated the last line of the prayer Amen.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
How many of us stop to pray for Teachers teaching the kids. I have no kids. But I pray for the Teachers as they are teaching my Nieces and Nephews. Plus I pray for teacher’s salvation as some of them might not be saved. That everything they do to teach each child will be done in Love like Jesus did. Pleasing on too Jesus. Like the kids song Jesus Love all the Children lf the world Red and Yellow Black and White and the Teachers will do the same. Kids will know they are loved too. Especially those kids who come from homes who have parents who are struggling to make ends meets for them. Then kids don’t feel loved by their parents. That other school kids will not be cruel to them and bully them. Because they don’t come from as nice a home as them. The teacher will teach kids to be kind to everyone no matter what homes they come from. To like everyone. Like Jesus did. Plus I pray for prayer to be brought back into our schools. As when I went to school we at break time where taught to say a simple prayer. It was just simply this. Thank you God for the food we eat thank you God for the Birds that sing thank you God for everything. Now I find it sad pray like that is no longer said in schools anymore. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
We all have Fears like Kids starting School or Nursery for first time. It is going to be scary. Kids especially leaving a parents who love them for the first time. Seeing teachers or Nursery teachers for the first time can be scarey. They have to put their trust in them. You as parents are putting your trust in them to take care of your child or children. It is their first time out in the big world without Mummy especially if Daddy way working all day. What life when they meet new people in School or Nursery. They are strangers to them until they get to trust them. We as Adults are like that with People too. We are like that with Jesus. We have to learn to trust him and trust what his word the Bible says too be true our we would never get saved or do what Jesus tell us to do.
Becky Keife says
“The only way I can even begin to combat fear is to focus in sharply on God and His response to others who have trusted Him in spite of their fear.” Such a timely truth and reminder! Thank you, Anna, for letting us see your fear (which makes it safe to acknowledge our own) and then together remember who God is in the midst of it!
Kathy Cheek ~ First Breath of Morning says
It really is overwhelming when we can make such long lists of so many things to fear and know they are all completely out of our control to change. But we can change our attitude and prayer will help us daily fight the battle to succumb to the grip fear can have on our hearts.
I pray we will be strong and courageous because we know God is with us!
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Beth Williams says
This world is so full of hatred & disunity. The devil seems to be working overtime to get us depressed & afraid. God says several times in the Bible “Do not fear”. Ephesians 6 loosely states: be strong in the Lord & His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God to stand your ground and after everything stand. Pray hard. God is telling us to trust Him. Don’t be afraid. He will put a hedge of protection around us. Sure things look bleak at times. We must remember that God is in control & He will ultimately win the battle of good & evil. When we face trials of fears God is near. He is right there ready to fight our battle for us. We just need to lay it at His feet & ask Him to protect us. I am saddened by the way our country/world has gone. It is no longer the gentle, family ways of the early 1940-50s. We must equip our children & pray for their safety. Prayers for all the teachers, administrators, bus drivers, & children going back to school. May this be a safe year for all!
Lovely post, reminding us to keep trusting God, no matter the situation. When we keep our eyes, mind and heart on Jesus and the Word, we really do find peace in this sometimes, scary world. I like all the examples you give of regular people who obeyed God to accomplish His purpose.
Since worry and anxiety can be too large a part of me sometimes, this post really spoke to me today.
Thanks and blessings, Sandy
Seriously stop watching the news! Lots of things scarier.
Mental Illness, unplanned pregnancy, rape-much more statistically probable.
Doubt this will be published