Friday, October 9, 2009

Are All the Children In?

While visiting in Washington DC this week, we put many miles under our feet walking from one museum or memorial to the next. We had a tremendous time, enjoying every minute of our visit, and I owe most of the success of our time to how well everyone stayed together and kept up with Dad.

Though we walked probably five miles a day, we took lots of breaks and carried lots of food and water, so no one got completely (well, …maybe not too completely!) worn out. We kept up a pace that would have withered most six-year-olds, but Jason kept up with us all. Even in the subway station (the Metro), we all kept together and kept up a strenuous speed.

I, as always, worry the most about someone getting left behind, lost, or straying from the pack in a place like that. So, years ago, we adopted the policy that my husband would lead the group, and I would take up the rear, making sure that there were no stragglers. That way, if someone had to stop and tie a shoe, I could always be there to help, if needed, or at least make sure he or she didn’t get separated from the crowd.

Several times during our excursions I had to encourage a lagger to speed up, or a gawker to “get with the program.” Once, while running across a road on a crosswalk (we seemed to run much of the time, as we were trying to beat one deadline or another…), Jason lost his shoe at the curb. Of course, I was there to help him grab it and run to catch up with the others.

As we were walking in our line, with Dad up front, the guys close behind, and me at the rear with the little kids, I couldn’t help but think about my role as a mother.

My goal is to make sure all of my children get to where God wants them to in life. I do whatever I have to do to keep them from getting distracted and being left behind. Pulling and yelling would never do; I need to encourage, praise, and help them as they get tired and lag behind. “Just a little bit longer,” I told one of my kids, “and then we can rest a bit. You’re doing great!” Keeping my children on the straight and narrow path is never easy, but the alternative is something I simply don’t know that I could live with.

The hymn, Are All the Children In? speaks of a mother who waits for her children, making sure they come in when darkness falls, but the most important moment comes when eternity rolls around, and mother wonders, Are all the children in?

Last night, as I went to bed, I once again begged God to work in the hearts of my children. I don’t want one of them to be left behind, or simply get distracted. Are All the Children In?

When I'm alone I often think of an old house on the hill
Of a big yard hedged in roses where we ran and played at will,
And when the night time brought us home hushing our merry din,
Mother would look around and ask, “Are all the children in?”

Well, it's been many a year now and the old house on the hill
No longer has my mother's care and the yard is still so still,
But if I listen I can hear it all, no matter how long it's been.
I seem to hear my mother ask, “Are all the children in?”

And I wonder when the curtain falls on that last earthly day
When we say goodbye to all of this to our pain and work and play
When we step across the river where mother so long has been
Will we hear ask her a final time, “Are all the children in?”

Mom, your work has the value of eternity attached to it. Keep a diligent eye on the children, and make sure that all of them are in!

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