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departuresWhen my father dropped me at Heathrow Airport in October 1973 he had only a rough idea of when he would see me again. I was sixteen years old and flying to Göteborg in Sweden to join my first ship. I am not sure what was going through Dad’s mind as he left me at the airport, or how difficult (or easy) it may have been to let go of and say goodbye to his oldest child and only son. It was five months before I arrived back at Heathrow and called to say that I was home.

In 1998 I drove our eldest son Nick to Heathrow Airport and he flew off with three other teenagers to Trinidad to spend six months as a volunteer working in a Baptist School. I repeated this exercise three years later with our second son, Michael, who also joined the Baptist Missionary Society’s gap year programme. Michael spent six months working on an agricultural project in Northern Thailand. Our third son went straight to University, but the process of letting go was similar. There were bags to be packed, travel to be undertaken, and goodbyes to be said. The strangeness of the empty bedrooms at home and not knowing quite what your offspring are doing or where they are doing it takes some getting used to, even when you still have a couple of kids still around.

Sometimes in life it feels as if God has deposited us at the airport and waved goodbye, leaving us to work it all out alone. All the time I was away from home my parents wrote to me, and I know that they prayed for me daily. The link between us was not broken and is still intact. It is the same with God, whether we choose to believe it or not. And unlike a human parent God travels with us constantly, even if the seat next to us appears to be empty. He doesn’t let us go, although there may be times when we think that He has. At such times it is possible that He is waiting for us to let go of whatever it is that could be obstructing the relationship He desires with us. God also has a habit of turning up in unusual ways and in unusual places. That’s the beauty of our Creator. He never lets go of us.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39 NIV)