My son got up at 5:00AM this morning. I couldn’t let him rampage around the house. Rustling the girls from hibernation is a dangerous thing. So I sprawled out next to him in his bed, gently rubbing his back. With thoughts of boyish revelry, he would not return to sleep. At least he was still, wrapped up in the covers. I liked the thought of my son tucked close to me, secure and safe.
Protectionism is an intense parental instinct. There is an urge to insulate our children in a cocoon and never let them out. The first day of school, the first date, graduation, and college are difficult. Why? Because we feel as if we are giving our children away, losing them to the unknown.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.” It is incredibly challenging to release the most valued things in our lives. We clench the things we love with white knuckles. We fear the thought of losing that which we love. Yet it is in love’s nature to give away. In a sense, love isn’t love unless it gives itself away.
There is an obvious redundancy in five short verses of Luke chapter 23. Jesus is on the cross and three different people tell him to “save himself” (Luke 23:35,37,39). “If you’re the King of the Jews, save yourself!” Jesus responds by doing the opposite. He remains in his vulnerable position on the cross. He does not save himself, but he gives himself away. He gives his body, his dignity, his reputation - all to be trampled with wretched brutality. With each step toward the cross, Jesus gives and gives again.
Can I keep my son tucked safely in bed early in the morning? No, daylight is coming and we must arise. Can I hide my daughters from danger, pain, and boys? No I must release them, giving them to the service of the Lord. So I come to increased gratitude at the foot of the cross. No safe protectionism from the Father. Only risk, sacrifice, and suffering. He just gives.