If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26 (NIV)
While we were on vacation celebrating our anniversary, our children were celebrating their own milestones. Oldest son, who graduated from a National Park Service Law Enforcement Academy in April, received his commission to serve as a law enforcement officer at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Pensacola. When he first returned to Pensacola to work, I was upset because the job he was offered and accepted was not in law enforcement, but as a regular duty park ranger. In other words, he went back to the job he had before spending three months of his time and several thousands of dollars for advanced training. My irritation turned out to be misplaced, however, because a few weeks after he slipped into his old job, a law enforcement position opened and he was in the right place at the right time. Before he received his commission, he spent several weeks shadowing with his new coworkers. While we were away, he received his badge, his guns and his bullet proof vest. I admit that need shocked me. For some reason, even though I knew he would be in law enforcement, I had a naïve view of what that might mean. His first arrest was over 4th of July weekend, when he encountered a juvenile with an open container of alcohol in the park. I had to laugh when oldest stated he might have let the kid off with a warning, but the young man dropped his can littering the dunes, a federal offense. While oldest son embarked on his law enforcement career, youngest graduated from Paramedic School. He had three exams, pharmacology, comprehension and a practical scenario. He had to pass all of them with a 90% score or better. After careful study, he succeeded and received his certificate completing his three levels of training, EMT, Firefighter and Paramedic. Because we were away, we missed his graduation and the party which he threw at our unsupervised house. Sigh. Now, we have both a policeman and a fireman in the family. Who would have thought? Not me. While I am excited for my children, I also have trepidation. There is that bullet proof vest and all it symbolizes. And the fact that two fireman recently died in our state when caught in a forest fire. I am struggling with placing my boys, now men, in God’s Hands for safekeeping. Just the fact that I was not present when either of them reached their milestones is evidence that I am no longer (nor truly ever was) in control of their lives. The verses listed above were spoken by Jesus. The word He uses for hate “miseos” means both hate and “love less.” In other words, He is not saying to hate our family, but to love God more. When I love God more than anything, people, stuff, position, or place, then, I can trust Him to take care of the rest. It requires an open hand. One finger at a time, I am letting go.