Peering into the mailbox, my eyes sought out the object that was wedged just a little too tightly to slide out without a serious tug.

A children’s book. As I wriggled it free, my eyes teared up. It was the last book my newly-minted five-year-old would receive from the United Way’s Imagination Library program. He received his first book this month five years ago and has continued to receive a book every month thereafter.

And here I stood, holding The Last Book in my hands. Tears glistened as I faced yet another “last” during his birthday week.

I’ve spent a few quiet moments this week quietly mourning the loss of my Baby Jon, the chubby toddler I once knew, while simultaneously celebrating and cheering on the lanky young man with the brave soul and tender heart.

I am amazed by this young man of mine who prefers to be called “Batman” when asked his nickname, who acts tough outwardly but who still quietly seeks out my hand as we walk each morning into preschool. I celebrate his fledgling independence, his determination to do things on his own, his hilarious conversational topics as he observes the world around him and asks good questions about why we do the things we do.

You see, there have to be Lasts in order to have Firsts. We have to let go of past things in order to embrace the future. We cannot simultaneously look backward and forward. And the direction of our gaze will set the direction of our feet.

What “Lasts” do you need to mourn and then release as you move toward new “Firsts”? This is the question that has been reverberating in my head this past week, and it applies to far more than watching my son grow up before my eyes.

What new adventure, new thing is God nudging you toward as you leave old things behind? And what is your response?

Lord, thank you that you are the constant denominator in a world whose only consistency is that change happens. Meet each of us this morning as we face Lasts and Firsts simultaneously — and grant us wisdom, discernment, and peace as we stand in that often difficult in-between place. In Jesus’s precious and holy name, Amen.