by: Ronnie McBrayer
Come and Go, both Now and Forever
A friend recently explained to me the phrase “come and go” found sometimes in Hebrew Scriptures and prayers. I was familiar with the expression from Psalm 121 where the author wrote, “The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever,” but I had never thought about the wording very much. “Come and go” seems to be a word picture rooted in the pastoral culture of the ancient Mideast. The sheep “come and go,” out of the sheepfold and into the greater world, to eat on the green hillsides, to take a drink from the brook, to frolic in the grass, or to take a nap in the sun—always under the watchful, compassionate eye of the shepherd.
I’m no sheepherder, and I doubt that many of my readers are. But most of us have those under our care whom we shepherd, as intentional as if we had Little Bo Peep’s crook in our hand. One of the “sheep” in my life is one of my sons. He is a fun, beautiful, infectious, athletic, highly intelligent child. At times, like any adolescent boy, he is also a defiant, stubborn, burning firebrand. He was in full rebellious, red-hot mode not many days ago: Shouting, screaming, complaining about what I was making him do, railing against a teacher, throwing stuff across the room.
Before I knew it I had snatched him up by the collar. I got in his face and bellowed, “I am the only thing standing between you and your life being a disaster and you don’t even know it! Pray to God that I don’t ever quit standing in that way!” I don’t offer my behavior as parenting advice or as a worthy example. Hardly. I was far too impulsive and smeared on more than sufficient shame. Yet, as grace would have it, my words seemed to get past the flames to the boy’s brain. It wasn’t a breakthrough, but there was some understanding.
The truth is no children ever see what their parents do to keep them from disaster: Wrenching financial decisions, job demands, emptying of the family checkbook, meetings at school, with coaches, with police officers, juggling of schedules, robbing Peter to pay Paul, late night agonizing, early morning rising – and for what? So that child, knowingly or not, can safely and securely live a life, “coming and going” in peace.
Ronnie McBrayer is the author of “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus.” He writes and speaks about life, faith, and Christ-centered spirituality. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.