Deployment Diaries Part 1: Our Children are on Loan From God

A Few months ago I rode away in a black passenger van, fighting back the tears and heartache, holding on to the only thing I had—the hope and knowledge that my heavenly Father has far greater plans for me.  Here I was, leaving my 13-month-old daughter, for 6+ months, to go and support a deployment overseas, while her fighter pilot daddy had to learn how to pull “single parent ops”.

Very seldom do you hear or see mommas leaving their cubs behind to go “fight a war” (using this term loosely).  Yet, here I was.

Whether a military mom, a missionary, an author on tour, a singer, executive, etc., many women are called to leave their babies in someone else’s care as they follow His plan, fighting back all the guilt and pain associated with leaving a part of you behind.  

When I analyzed my reasoning for the guilt and pain, I realized I truly believed that no one could raise my child better than I—not even God.  My daughter was mine, to be raised by me, and no one could ever do it as well as I could. How dare He think she could survive without me?

Pretty conceited, right?

In spite of all that, being the gracious God that He is, He gently corrected me.  See, our children are on loan from God.

deployment and reintegration

On Loan

Scripture tells us that our children are a gift from the Lord [1]. We all know this and are not questioning it; but sometimes we can take full possession of these gifts without realizing that they are actually on loan from our almighty Father.  

He has blessed us with children to honor and glorify him.  Sometimes these gifts only reside in our wombs before He reclaims them, other times we are blessed with a few days or years, or better yet, these gifts out live us (every parent's prayer).  

All the same, their purpose is for His glory, not ours.  It is God who has enabled us to carry these blessings and it is God who has created their destiny.  

In the story of Ruth we see that God enabled Ruth to conceive [2]; He also remembered Hannah’s plea for a son [3].  Time and time again we see God “remembering” these women; Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel, but for His purpose, not theirs.  This is why it is important we remember that our children are gifts, on loan from our Father.

The Bible provides us many examples of God blessing women with children.  One of my favorites, and the one I have clung to on this deployment, is the story of Hannah. Hannah so desperately wanted a child that she prayed and bargained with the Lord, offering to give her son back to God if He blessed her with one [4].

Oh how awesome is our God that He answered her prayers!

Let’s be real, how often does bargaining with God work for us? Not very, am I right?

But His plan was far greater than Hannah could have ever imagined. It wasn’t easy for Hannah to fulfill her part of the bargain.  We see that Hannah asked to keep her son until he was weaned and her husband agreed, responding with “may the Lord help you keep your promise.” [5] Our hubbies sure know our weaknesses!

Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, knew how difficult it would be for Hannah to “give up” her child she so desperately prayed for but he supported her and prayed for her.  In the grand scheme of things, she wasn’t giving him up; instead she was returning a gift, her son, back to Him for His purpose. To top it all off, she even praised God for His faithfulness, strength, control and sovereignty [6].  

And so, I realized I needed to model my heart and mind to be like Hannah.  This is how I survived the heart wrenching, long 6 months apart from my baby girl.

Children on loan 1.jpg

Heart like Hannah’s

My daughter is not mine to hold on to, but God’s to use for His glory.  I left her behind, knowing full well that He was in control.

He will protect her.  

He formed her in my womb, knowing what His design for her life would be [7].  It is not my job to raise her solely independent or even dependent on me, but dependent on the One who matters.  Therefore I will continue to hold her, not as a possession to never give up, but instead with open hands turning her over to God for His glory and purpose.  

Whatever that separation looks like for you, whether it’s a job a few hours a week, or a deployment 6+ months every other year, know that God has called us to leave everything behind and follow Him and that may very well hurt.  Whatever His purpose may be, follow Him, even if it means leaving your babies behind for a small while.

Our God is greater than our absence.  Though it means that my daughter can only see me on FaceTime for a few months, I know that He is faithful.  There is a purpose behind my separation and momma, there is a purpose behind yours.

“… but be strong and courageous, do not be frightened or dismayed. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” [8]

be strong and courageous

[1] Psalm 127:3

[2] Ruth 4:13

[3] 1 Samuel 1:19

[4] 1 Samuel 1:11

[5] 1 Samuel 1:21-23

[6] 1 Samuel 2:1-11

[7] Psalm 139: 13-16

[8] Joshua 1:9