Casting Bread

May 30, 2014

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3 ESV

Daddy Jake with Eli

At 2:35 PM, on May 23rd, Eli Hudson Farnsworth was delivered into this world, and my first grandson was born. Thanks to 21st century technology and my friend and cohort in grandmother-hood, Nana Beswick, I watched him holler with that funny little old man face that newborns have, just minutes after he arrived. I cried. I do that a lot and I wonder if it’s a getting older thing. Anyway, he is perfect, created especially by God, cell by cell.

Strange to think that God sees the boy, then the man, and even the father. I think back to my three births and how I have watched two of my boys become dads. It’s a perfect circle and it makes me feel like I can say “There!” to motherhood and usher in a new season of joy: being a grandma, or “Ama” as I am called.

I started a tradition with my granddaughters a few years ago where I write them a letter on each birthday. I try to capture who they are, before it changes again. I like to think that one day, when they are moms maybe, they will pull out Ama’s letters and remember what matters, how they were loved, how Jesus delighted in them even then. A year from now, I will write my grandson.

Eli can barely focus on the loving faces that bend down to kiss his little cheeks. His body is hitching into gear, all parts perfectly joined, already accustomed to this new water-less world. He turns to mommy’s smell and daddy’s voice. He trusts in every set of arms that lifts and holds him.

 “Cast your bread upon the water…” A seemingly hopeless act of throwing your best far from you. (Matthew Henry commentary)

If you know me, you know I love to boast of my grandchildren. It’s what grandparents do. But there’s a deeper side to the picture. I remember a stormy night in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, sitting in my car with the rain pounding on the roof, calling my pastor on the phone. I was crying so hard I could barely speak.

“I have one son dead, and two that are far from God,” I sobbed into the phone. He talked me down as he always does, but I will never forget the hopelessness of those days, and the failure that haunted me.

I had taken Jake, who was almost 16, and put him on a plane to Jacksonville North Carolina with a one way ticket. We had a sister church there, I knew the pastor, a few people but not the family who had offered to take him for us, a six foot two teenager, big with attitude and resentment. But as we stood in the airport, awkwardly saying goodbye, I knew that even Jake understood this was God’s Yes, it was a rescue mission. The poverty and defeat that permeated Pawtucket was taking him down.

I admit that mostly desperation and exhaustion have brought me to the altar of God’s grace, laying my children down, my best, my “first-fruits”. But the longer I live, the more convinced I become that this is God’s desire. The Potter sits at the wheel, waiting. Yet we take our kids and run, sure that we know a better way than the One who made them. Christians are the worst offenders, because above all, we want to look good on the outside, even if all hell has broken loose behind closed doors.

The precious family that took my son moved out to a farm surrounded by cows, on one road that took you for miles to nowhere. They loved him, showed him how to work, and Vicki prayed over his lunch everyday before she packed him off to school. Jake was mad. And there were days when his dad and I really wanted to rescue our poor baby, take him somewhere softer, nicer, not so hard. But we held back. The Holy Spirit gave an emphatic Hands off!  And it was there, in the middle of those fields, under the big night sky, that Jake met God face-to-face and surrendered. It was there he discovered His love, a love bigger and better than any mom’s.

His brother Miles took a different road, in fact, around the world, but eventually came to that same place, knew it was right, it was time, and his wife joined him. Now my granddaughters sing a song about God’s’ love being as big as an ocean. Yes, indeed.

Cast your bread upon the water, and after many days, it will return to you. Ecclesiastes 9:1

I’ve buried a child and sat in the silent ash of unspeakable sorrow, thinking, “I gave him to you Lord. And this?” There’s a lot I can’t understand on this side of heaven. But I can say that God continues to bring new life through Spencer’s life and death, in small ways that you might miss if you weren’t looking, and in very big ways that leave me speechless… it will return to you.

When I die, I won’t have much to leave. Some teacups and recipes. Lots of books and blog posts, and too many scarves. But the greatest legacy is what I see when I look at brand new Eli Hudson Farnsworth, secure in his daddy’s arms, and every time I walk past my granddaughters’ pictures. I know that they have been handed down the best, God’s personal promise to us, to our children and our children’s children Here is an eternal inheritance; I didn’t even have to work for it, I had nothing but a mess to give to him. Jesus gave it to me for free although it cost Him a lot. All he asks for in return is that we trust him with our best, whether it is your kids, grandkids, spouse or your very life… let go, and after many days it will return to you.

Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? James 2:5 NLT