I See My Son’s Face in the Faces of the Slain
I see my son Titus in the faces of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Jordan Edwards, Richard Collins III, and others. As a mother, I fight a relentless battle of the flesh and spirit to not give in to fear but to trust the Lord’s care of my son. Titus is assertive and strong and funny and moody. And he wears hoodies and plays with Nerf guns. His eyes light up when he talks about Pokémon and his latest Xbox game and Rick Riordan books and soccer.
He is an African American boy born outside the US, experiencing for the first time the good, bad, and ugly of American culture. He considers America as kinda his and kinda not because of his third culture upbringing. He mostly refers to the U.S. as Granny’s country (referring to our past visits to the U.S. to see his grandparents and extended family). He’s become a bit of a pessimist since our family’s return to America in 2014. The joy of raising him comes in pointing him in the direction of hope and potential when he’s leaning toward skepticism and doubt, in reminding him of the hope that we have in Christ when all around him the world feels unsafe and turbulent.
I pray that he would maintain his playful spirit and vivid imagination, like Tamir Rice. But maybe playfulness and joy won’t be enough to save his life. I pray that he would be a leader on and off the field, that he would make good grades and be a humble and sharing child, a lot like Jordan Edwards. But maybe humility and sharing and leadership won’t be enough to save his life. I pray that he would have a loving and giving heart like Richard Collins III, but maybe loving and giving to others won’t save his life. I spend a lot of time praying for my son’s life, fearing for his life. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. I guess prayer is the war I wage against fear and against the powers and influences of the world that are set against boys like mine. Some call prayer a weapon of defense. I see it as a weapon of attack. I’m sure Samaria Rice, Charmaine Edwards, and Dawn Collins all prayed for the survival and well being of their sons as well. But I have to remember to look beyond the physical, beyond this life to the one that will never end and pray that my son above all else grabs hold of the life that is forever his in the safe and secure arms of Christ. This is the foundation of all my hopes and prayers and dreams for my sons, for all my children. My prayer echoes that of Richard Collins, Jr. as he spoke about his son. “Particularly, he was a child of God, and he believed in Christ Jesus, which is what we taught him since he was an infant,” Collins said. “That is all that is holding my wife and I and my daughter and the rest of our family up right now — our faith in Jesus Christ.” Indeed that is all that holds any of us up in the trials of this life.
On Thursday, May 18, Richard Collins III spoke these words in his commissioning ceremony as a 2nd lieutenant in the US Army, “Most importantly I thank the Lord my God for showing me providence in my life so far and I hope he continues to do so”. The providence of God kept him for 23 years and allowed him to receive the earthly reward for which he was honored that day, and in God’s providence Lt. Collins received his eternal reward on Saturday, May 20, 2017.
Charles Spurgeon says, “When you cannot use your sword, and even when you can hardly grasp your shield, you can pray. That weapon of “all prayer” is of the handiest kind because it can be turned in any and every direction. ‘Praying always with all prayer’–groaning prayers, weeping prayers, prayers that are made up of single words, prayers that have not a word in them, prayers for others, prayers of confession, prayers of thanksgiving….” So, I fight against my fears for my son with faith in the pow- er of God, the providence of God, and with prayer.
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (ESV)