This morning we said goodbye to our eldest daughter. She is spending the next four years at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein studying to be a nurse. Bloemfontein is 1 010 kilometers away from where we live in Cape Town. A ten hour road trip.
We drove up in convoy with her three days ago. Her sisters and her drove in front and my husband and I followed. Leaving her behind today was one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life so far. We left her with this verse:
“The Lord is the One who goes ahead of you; He will be with you, He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” Deuteronomy 31:8
As we drove out of the gates of the University the following verses came to mind:
“For He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways” Psalm 91:11 and “The angel of the Lord encamps round those who fear Him, and He delivers them” Psalm 34:7
How could I carry on worrying about her, when God has given His assurance that He has gone ahead of her, that He will be with her and that He will never fail or forsake her and that He has placed His angels on guard around her? We will all miss her terribly, she is such a major part of our lives but I find peace in the fact that God has gone before her. She was born to be a nurse and is so privileged to be able to study and fulfill that calling at one of the best Universities in South Africa.
God, has indeed, gone before her, opened doors for her and “He who began a good work in her will carry it on to completion”.
As we drove away I was reminded of the hardest thing I have had to do in my life so far. Three years ago one of our children had to have a foot operation. I was allowed to ‘gown up’ and accompany her into the theater and hold her hand whilst the anesthetist administered the anesthetic. Once she was asleep I was meant to leave the theater.
That was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. To walk away from my child, to leave her on an operating table knowing that the gloved and masked man, who was holding a sharp scalpel in his hands, was going to cut into her foot. I could not do it. A nurse had to literally, physically push me out of the theater. I would have done anything, given up everything, to be able to change places with her. I, so desperately, wished that it could be me lying there instead of her. It did not matter whether my daughter had been disobedient or rebellious at times in her life – none of the past mattered. I was overwhelmed by the depth of my love for her and all I wanted to do was to take her pain away, to have the operation in her stead.
As I sat in the lounge just outside the theater doors, my mind and body numb with fear, I took my little ‘travelling’ Bible out of my handbag. It fell open in Isaiah.
“Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed”. Isaiah 53:4,5
The enormity of how much Jesus loved me suddenly became a reality. He took my place on the “operating table”. I finally understood that it did not matter how much we had sinned, how disobedient we had been, how much we had ignored Him – none of this mattered to Him. His love for us was so overwhelming – it saw through all our rebelliousness, pain and hurt. He took our place on the ‘operating table’. He died on the cross in our place in order that we would have eternal life.