I knew this week was coming. It’s been coming for eight years, and it is still hard for me to wrap my mind around this fact: It is my family’s last week of elementary school.
My oldest child started elementary school eight years ago, and my youngest graduates from that same school this week. I can still remember that first day of school eight years ago. I can see clear as day my daughter sitting outside to be picked up that afternoon. My heart was so full seeing my baby sitting among all those big kids. It didn’t seem real. My youngest child was just a baby in the backseat then, and now she’s one of those big kids. That also doesn’t seem real. That school has been a huge part of our lives for 8 of the 11 years that we have lived here. It has been a huge part of my children’s growing up and also of my husband and I growing as parents.
It’s hard to realize that this stage of our life is gone.
A Mere Breath
The words from Psalm 39:4-5 echo in my head.
“LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.”
We are but a mere breath.
So many years I sat in afternoon car line just counting down the years. Only six more years left to do this, four more years, two more years … and just like that, the breath is gone.
“The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.” Psalm 94:11
The days of those long afternoon car lines will now be just a memory. Many memories come with us as this chapter of our life closes – memories of sweet friendships, field trips, nights spent making valentines and costumes, presents made from hand prints, teachers that went the extra mile.
Realizing that those beginning days are gone, realizing that my oldest child will graduate high school in only five years, realizing that these days with my children will surely end, makes TODAY all the more important.
These milestones remind us that our time with our children is but a mere breath.
“Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4
Yes, these elementary years are gone for us now.
But even though the years are gone, the results of those years remain.
The results are more than the memories and the first day of school pictures. The results are more than the report cards and art projects stored safely in drawers or scrapbooks.
The most important result of those elementary years are the children who stand before me today.
Those years served to form their character, build their knowledge, and prepare them for the next stage in their lives. The years may be gone, but the result of how we spent those years remains.
An Example of Warning
Do you remember the Israelites in the Old Testament? When you read why God caused them to be taken into captivity, we see it’s because they did not use their years to follow God nor to teach their children to follow Him. Instead, they taught their children to follow after vain and useless things – things of the world around them. They did not prepare their children.
“They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them.” 2 Kings 17:15
The Israelites lost God’s favor because they used their years with their children to follow vanity. In so doing, they themselves became vain…empty…a mere breath.
What remains after the breath is gone? What will be the result of the way we are using our years with our children? Will our results look like those of the Israelites?
We have the example of the Israelites as a warning not to waste these years with our children. When the years are gone, the results of the years will remain. Will the results be emptiness or will the results make us smile as we reminisce about all the years that got us there?
“The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:17
This week will be tough. I’m not going to lie – I will cry a lot.
The tears will come as I reminisce about the elementary years, remembering and being thankful for all the good. They will flow as I soak up every last memory.
Then I’m going to move on.
I still have a job to do. My job is to keep my children seeking God. My job is to make sure we don’t waste our years following things that won’t last.
We are but a mere breath.
This milestone in my family’s life is a reminder to make the most of today. The years will certainly pass by. What will remain when the years are gone?
It all depends on what we do with them.
“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16