Standing with my arms lifted in praise at a women’s conference this weekend, I suddenly felt an unmistakably strong presence.
A beautiful girl of 25 stood on the chair next to me, arms lifted alongside mine, wearing a smile as bright as a sunkissed, spring meadow. Praising Jesus with all her being, she looked sweetly at me and grabbed my hand—smiling knowingly—and continued to belt out joyous praises to her King.
My heart raced as tears instantly sprang to my eyes because this precious girl departed for Jesus’ Kingdom October 1, 2021.
A sacred moment, my arms still lifted, I wept as we praised our King together in spirit as if Jesus temporarily lifted the veil between the spirit and earthly realms.
Unsure of what to do with this experience, whatever it was, I was certain of this: it was a Holy Spirit-inspired vision. The peace, joy and comfort I felt were unmistakably His.
The next day after church, I felt a nudge to share with my husband. Prefacing with “You may think this is a little strange, but,” I shared what had transpired.
I was not prepared for his response.
“You’d better sit down.” He continued after a pause. “I felt her presence this morning during the last worship song about giving God everything.” His next words both stunned and soothed me.
“She’s a happy girl.”
These shared experiences may sound crazy, and I’m not here to debate their theological validity, but I know God spoke to us through it.
We experienced peace and even joy, knowing she is happy and whole with Jesus.
As I reflected further, dots connected from a number of conversations and circumstances, creating a tangible lesson this side of heaven.
When talking about parenting, we get advice from everywhere—both the secular and sacred. It can be overwhelming and confusing.
However, one truth shone like a beacon for me through this:
Our primary focus as parents isn’t our children’s:
- Social calendar
- Athletic prowess
- Academic success
- Number of wins
- Social standing
- Career advancement
Our #1 goal as parents is to lead our children—over and over—to Jesus.
Their Savior, Mighty God, Good Shepherd, Advocate, Righteous Judge, Morning Star, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Protector, and true Lover of their soul.
It will be messy, muddled and wrought with mistakes, but that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in.
He takes our earnest but mismanaged control, distracted efforts, anxious prayers, hurried counsel, well-intentioned but sometimes misdirected guidance and fashions perfect prayers, tender mercies, age-appropriate truths and comforting consolations.
Careful and calculated, Holy Spirit tailors His wise counsel beautifully for each child.
A parent’s greatest comfort and delight will be watching their child know God and enjoy Him forever, both here and upon departure for His Kingdom.
Devastatingly, some parents experience their child’s departure before their own. It is a crushing reality few of us will ever experience or understand, and for those suffering this loss way too soon, I can only humbly, with heartfelt compassion say,
I’m so sorry for your loss.
I will never understand the depth of your pain, suffering and loss, but I will listen, love and pray if given the opportunity.
And for those of us with children who departed from the way they should go (Prov.22:6)—because humans are prone to wander—we cry, pray, grieve, wrestle and sometimes doubt.
But whether your child has yet to welcome Jesus as Savior or has rejected Him, never give up or despair of hope.
Seek wise counsel, stand on God’s promises and hold onto hope.
The road can be painful, lonely and sometimes long, but find your people—those who have gone before you or are in it with you—and hold on.
Even when we’re dangling by a thread, God is with us and our child. He’s on the move, active in ways we’ll never fully understand.
We can’t give in to the carefully crafted lie that our child is abandoned, orphaned in the Kingdom—no matter how young or old.
Friend, what do you need to keep going?
- A friend who listens without judgment, no matter how many times you’ve said it already?
- A counselor who wisely steers you in the right direction?
- A group that unequivocally understands the pain you’re experiencing?
- A friend who commits to pray for or with you?
Whatever it is, find your people and let go of the shame. Our God is forgiving, faithful and fierce.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Phil. 1:6
*Since writing this, a letter from one of Kayla’s friends was shared; she had a similar experience in a dream.