A friend sent me an article written by Ashlei Woods, a children’s teacher and minister and a wonderful author. I highly recommend reading her whole article, “Putting the Basket in the Water: Trusting God in the Next Phase of Your Child’s Life.”
Her words resonated with me, and I think you will have a similar experience.
I read her article and remembered the many moments of parenting that required this “basket” choice. The basket she refers to is the one that brought the baby Moses to the feet of Pharaoh’s daughter. I always liked teaching that story—until I had sons of my own.
Three big basket moments
I have a daughter-in-law who recently dropped off my oldest grandchild, Axia, for her first day of kindergarten. Axia’s backpack went from her shoulders to the back of her knees. Remember the first day of kindergarten for that first child?
That’s probably the first time parents put the basket in the water, but at least it stays fairly close to the shore.
The next big basket moment is probably middle school: new friends, lots of teachers, and a child who is tugging on that basket, asking you to leave it in the water. You do, and the kids get in.
They just don’t know it’s attached to a rope and you’re holding the end of it behind your back.
They discover the rope in high school and probably the hacksaw it will take to cut it. Not only that, they ask for a pair of oars. Hopefully, you can hand them those oars—but you advise them to row themselves back home by a certain time if they want dinner. Most of the time, they do.
Then comes the basket you have to cram with “stuff” so they can go to college and live there. With white knuckles, you shove this one from the shore, knowing a rope isn’t possible for the journey they’re taking. Deep down, you know they will come home, but it is never completely “home” again. Not like it was before.
You sit on the shore and watch until that basket is just a dot, then disappears. The only thing about this moment that feels right is the knowledge that God’s 29:11 plan for them is on the other side (See Jeremiah 29:11).
“For I know the plans”
Ashlei Woods was thinking about one of these parenting moments with her kids when she wrote, “Here’s what we can learn from this as parents: There comes a time – many times, actually – in the lives of our children where we have to put the basket in the water. We have to let go and trust the plan of the Father. The world is a scary place – a place where we fear our children could drown. But we remember that we have to let go so that God can draw them from the waters for His great purpose. He has called us to be their parents, but they were His first.”
I want to add one more thought to Ashlei’s. I launched my kids many years ago. All of us were ready to see what God had planned for their lives. They rowed their “baskets” in different directions and even ran aground a time or two.
But, it was their journey, not their parents’. Today, they have their 29:11 lives. God’s plan was to “prosper them and not harm them. To give them a hope and a future.”
The key to Jeremiah 29:11 is found in the first words. That verse does not say, “For I know the plans I have for you, says your mother . . . or father . . . or even guidance counselor.” Parents and others have important voices in children’s lives, but if those voices are too insistent, too loud, too demanding, or too directing, then God’s voice might be drowned out by the incessant noise.
I tried to retranslate Jeremiah 29:11 to say “mother,” but, thankfully, my kids recognized God’s guidance in their lives and chose his leadership. It’s impossible not to get in God’s way once in a while. But God is good to guide parents along the way as well. I’ve had to pull the foot out of my mouth on occasion, and I’m pretty sure God put it there!
Put the basket in the water—then push
Congratulations to all of you who had to put your babies in a basket for the first time and especially for that last time.
Pray that they will row in God’s directions instead of anyone else’s—even yours. Pray that they will serve God and become who he has called them to be. Look forward to watching them achieve their 29:11 life.
How did Moses’ mom ever place her baby in that basket and shove it in the direction of Pharaoh’s house?
It was impossibly difficult, but she wanted her boy to live.
You will bless your kids if you follow her example. And, chances are, they will bless you in return. The baby Moses grew to become the man God used to save the children of Israel from slavery.
Weave the baskets, put them in the water, and equip them for their journey.
Then give them your blessing as they shove off from the shore.
It’s not easy, but it’s the right thing—actually, the “God-thing”—to do.