As I slipped through the YMCA kids’ play area door, my relief about the end of the basketball season came to a crashing halt. Across the short hall, through the swarm of parents signing their kids in or out, I saw Chase’s crumpled, damp face. It was blotchy, his eyes swelled up and rimmed with the reddish pink of deep emotion.
When he was a toddler Chase struggled with separation anxiety, but at 6 years of age, he’s embraced independence with both grubby boy hands. This was especially true at the YMCA, where the boys love to run around and climb while I work out.
Cole and Chase had just played their final games of the basketball season and I was glad to be finished with Saturday morning YMCA trips. Chase’s games were at 9am followed by Cole’s game at 10. Toward the end of his brother’s game, Chase had become fidgety and asked to go to the kids’ play area. The game was close and Cole’s team was fighting valiantly to beat the only team who had beaten them, so I rushed Chase to the play area between the 3rd and 4th quarters.
After Cole’s game we’d gone to an outside courtyard and had a cupcake celebration, and Cole’s coach handed out trophies to the team. Most of the kids then left with their parents, but Cole and a few other boys started a game of tag. Chase had only been in the play area 20 minutes, so Trev and I chatted a few more minutes with the other parents.
It never dawned on me that attentive Chase would notice – through the glass in the kids’ play area – that some of Cole’s teammates were leaving the YMCA with their parents.
I rushed through the throng of bodies to Chase. Tears coursing down your child’s face steals a mom’s breath and constricts her heart. Chase is a solid, sturdy boy, and we frequently remind him that God made him strong, so he has to be gentle with others and with breakables. But I also knew the sensitive heart beating inside.
I wrapped my arms around him as he hiccupped and sniffed.
“I saw Cole’s teammates leave. I thought you l-left me.”
I sat on the bench, pulling him down with me. He wriggled onto my lap, filling it as full as my heart. He was starting 1st grade in a few days, and our social butterfly was excited to be back with friends. I found myself wishing there were perfect words to take away any thought of abandonment.
“Daddy and I would never, ever leave you.” I explained where we had been and asked if he’d like to play tag, too. He nodded, swiping at his nose, and I pulled out a tissue.
“I j-just thought you l-left me.”
“Never, honey. We would never leave you.”…Nor forsake you. Truth lit up my mind, words written across my heart from years ago.
“I will not leave you nor forsake you…do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
~ Joshua 1:5 & 9
One of the promises planted in me as a child – a small, powerfully potent seed of hope – was that God would always be with me. It wasn’t debatable or uncertain; it was Truth and unchanging. Through faith in Jesus Christ and the gift of His Holy Spirit, our Creator indwells us and promises to never leaves us nor forsake us.
This truth doesn’t mean life is perfect and peaceful; instead, it means that through every good work and every trial, He strengthens us – and we’re never alone through them…never left behind, forgotten, passed off, forsaken, tossed away, handed off, or traded in.
Never left behind, nor forsaken.
Resting my chin on Chase’s blond hair, I gave thanks for this reassurance throughout His word and for God’s unchanging, perfectly amazing grace.
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” ~ Psalm 91:1 & 2