Saturday, August 20, 2022


We dropped off our firstborn child at college yesterday.  I knew that it would be a challenge for Sarah, but I did not know how difficult it would be for me.  Days before, I had been trying to prepare Sarah for the coming challenges with words of encouragement and hope. 

“Hey Sarah! When ‘Hurricane Hannah,’ is gone at college, think of how much easier it will be to keep the house clean!”

“Oh, don’t you pretend that you are going to be all happy,” she said, “You are going to miss her and you will probably even breakdown and cry.”

“Who me?,” I defended, “No way…I am a rock!”

“I would say that you are more like a stump…a rotting, crumbly, stump stuck in the woods weeping and oozing with fungus growing out your sides.”  (Sarah did not say these words…but her blue eyes clearly etched her feelings into my mind).

“I guess we will see,” I replied smugly.

We arrived to the college before 10:00 a.m. and after several hours of work I slumped to a sofa in the lounge and allowed beads of my sweat to run off my head and settle onto the faux-leather seat without caring.

“We need you to put together Hannah’s shower shelf, her shoe shelf, and then go shopping and buy some more shelves and some hooks to hang her hammock.”

“Hammock! What does she need a hammock for, doesn’t she have a bed?”

“She also brought a hammock.”

“Great Scott! Next you are going to tell me that she brought a referee’s shirt and a whistle.”

“The shirt…no…the whistle…yes.”

I rose from the now slippery sofa and did as I was told.

As the day went on, my mind would wonder back to the little girl I remembered from the past 18 years.  Emotion would begin to well up in my throat…and I would press it back down as quickly as I could to remain the sturdy rock that I claimed to be. 

After several more hours of work we were coming close to being done.

“Where are we going to put the whistle?” Sarah asked.

“I’ll find a place for it,” I proclaimed, and slid it into my pocket. “There…done!  Bye Bye!”

“Ryan, we are not leaving yet! We have a meeting for parents and students and then we have supper and then the farewell dessert.”

The longer the day lingered the more difficult it was for me to keep the water works at bay.

There came a moment during supper while I was gently scratching Hannah’s back, where suddenly she was once again the 3 year old tight-curly haired, gum chewing toddler singing “These Feet.” Water erupted from my eyes like a garden hose, which I quickly dabbed away, but the water kept coming…so I kept dabbing.  I dabbed so vigorously that I began to draw comical looks from those around me. 

“Good,” I thought, “I am being amusing...this will help distract me from my emotion.”

When the meal and the dessert finished, we escorted Hannah back to her dorm.  It was time to say good bye.  My throat suddenly shrunk, and I began to choke as I said, “I have a little something for you Hannah,” but sounded like “A ha e eigt umig au u ahah.”

I slipped a large bag of Peanut M&M’s into her hands, hugged her and blubbered, “I love you, I am proud of you…Good bye. Ok everyone, get into the car.” My eyes were blinded with tears and I smashed my knee into the vehicle as I tried to scramble in before any bystanders would see me in my authentic mess.

The rest of the family began crying too.  “Look at them…they can’t even hold back their tears,” I thought. “Let’s go girls…enough crying it’s time to go!”

“Oh stop!, you were crying too!” Sarah retorted.

“Only because I gave away a big bag of Peanut M&M’s…you don’t know how difficult that is!”

I have to level with you.  My tears and my emotions were real.  They were genuine. My love for Hannah is incredibly genuine.  It always has been.  I remember the very first day that I set my eyes on her and held her.  She looked right back at me with her newborn eyes, and then I planted a kiss on her forehead. It was a genuine act of love, just as genuine as that gift of the candy.  I could feel these acts coming from the depths of my soul as an expression of deep love and emotion.

In Malachi 1:6-14, we find God calling His people to be authentic, real and genuine, in their worship of Him.  He knows their deeds, and their deeds are but mere empty actions.  They are simple tasks attempting to appease the God of love.  God doesn’t want their meaningless sacrifice…he wants their love…he wants their authentic love and their genuine worship.

May we resist the stalwart efforts of appearing to have it all together and open ourselves to a real, genuine and authentic love and worship of the God of love!

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