From The Night Watch

804956_84153109I sit in the hallway outside of my daughter’s room.  It is late and the floor uncomfortable, but the little nightlight that she holds is moving, so I know her eyes are still on me.  When her room is dark, she cannot stay still long enough to fall asleep unless she knows I am right there, close at hand. Watching out for her. Simply sitting in the silence, where I can hear her smallest cry.  This process is sometimes long, but necessary. Every night, I try to inch a little further out of view, knowing that a day will come when she does not have to see me to believe that she is safe.  That I am there whether or not she sees me in that hallway.

Eventually, the nightlight falls from her hand and her feet stop kicking the blanket away.  I tip-toe in and pull the blanket over her egs, put the nightlight on a shelf.  I double-check windows, make sure the closet door is closed.  Quietly, I make my way out of her room and move to my own.  I stretch out in the bed.  I fall asleep quickly, sleep deep and dreamless.

I wake to four-year-old feet in my face. Kailey is sideways on the pillows, her head next to her daddy’s and her toes in my hair.

The room is lightening, early-morning sun easing the world awake. I pick her up, rearrange her long limbs so that she is lying beside of me.  Her eyes open and she makes her scrunched-up “I’m mad” face.

“I thought you were going to sit in the hallway,” she says. “You left me all alone.”
“I was right here,” I say. “You didn’t have to be scared.  You are never alone in this house.”
“But I couldn’t see you,” she says. “Next time, stay.”
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I sit in my car, the music loud and my prayer insistent.  I want to see God, to see Him work.  I want Him to come to my side and go through the outline of my future.  He has given me a light to hold, enough to see by, but I’d like an upgrade to an overhead flood light.

I’m asking for another lullaby, another drink of water.  I’m asking Him to stay put so I’ll be comfortable, but He is moving so that I will understand how to trust Him in the dark.  He whispers that I am safe.  He says I am never alone.

He is out of sight and I cry, scared and unsure of what comes next.

But by now, I should know ~ when He is out of sight, it does not mean that He does not see me.  It does not mean that He is not there.
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These days, she is spunky.  A year ago, she would’ve waken and cried until someone came to comfort her.  Now she just gets out of bed and sneaks into our room, crawls into the bed and sleeps.  When I wake up, I have to carry her back to her own bed.  I tell her, again, that she is a big girl and big girls sleep in their own big girl beds all night long.
“I’m only four,” she says, holding up her fingers. And four is a tiny number.
Later, she wants to play a computer game with her brothers and she is told that she is too little.
“But I’m four,” she says. “I am big!”
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I want to run through open doors and God says no.  He shuts the doors, takes me by the hand back to where I started from.  There are things to be learned and I can only learn them if I stay put, where He places me, even if that place isn’t where I think I want to be.  “It’s how you grow” He says, “I know what’s best for you,” He says.

In our covenant-relationship, I have been loved.  Carried when I was too tired to walk, soothed when my heart was breaking.  In every emotion, in every circumstance  He has never failed me.

He, this King who counts the hairs upon my head, has proven His faithfulness.

So He is asking me to trust in who He has shown Himself to be as He breaks down my excuses and hardened pieces of my heart.  He gently reminds me of how far He has brought me and how much work is still left undone in my heart.  I loosen my grip on the tools I’ve tried to take over and sit at His feet, see things through His eyes.  I see selfishness, stubbornness, tendencies to use truths in ways convenient
to what I want at the time.  I see disobedience.

I see a child trying to fit the Father’s will to her wants, instead of surrendering her wants to the Father’s will.
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She is running around the room, refusing to sit and participate during a Wednesday night class at church. Story-time is impossible with her skipping from corner to corner and so I put her into time-out.
She looks up at me with wide eyes, puts her hands over her eyes. She cries, tears running wild down her cheeks.
I wait for a few moments and sit by her, lifting her onto my lap.  She buries her face in my neck. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” she says. “I’ll listen now.”

“I forgive you, baby,” I say. “Let’s dry your face and give this thing another try.”
Fifteen minutes later, she is running around again.  I sit her down for another talk, another reminder.
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And I know that this is my way, too, forgetting things it seems I should’ve already learned.  I am thankful for His patience, for the way He is not leaving me where I am, but pushing me to learn this lesson, to change until I better reflect Him.

For the places I have fallen short, I say that I am sorry.  I stay put where He’s placed me, I hold to the light He has given, and I trust.  And by His light, I see the next step.  I see His mercy, stunning in its fullness.

Sometimes I forget that He goes behind and before, preparing and providing, limitless in His vision, incomparable in His love… but even then, when I don’t see what is happening, He is still working.  Always, He is working.

When it’s dark and we don’t understand where we are or where He is, we can trust that He knows exactly what is going on.

He slept while the disciples struggled in the storm.  He stayed away when Lazarus fell ill and died.  His body lay in a tomb for three long, lonely days.

But when it was time to reveal His glory and hearts were ready for the change He would bring, He spoke peace.
He spoke life.
He spoke salvation.

He speaks it still.

We may not know when or where, by whom or how our God will move in our lives, but we do know that He will.  In all things, Paul tells us in Romans, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

In the meantime, Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father.  He loves to help.
You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. (from James, the MSG)
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Her daddy tucks her into bed tonight, tells her that he’s close.  If she needs him, he’ll be there.
This time, finally, she smiles and closes her eyes, pulls the blanket close, and falls asleep.
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Amazingly, graciously, wondrously ~ Jesus says, “I am with you always.”  No matter where we are, we cry out and He hears us.

He may ask us to endure sorrow, confusion, or pain while keeping our faith in His purpose, but He never asks us to handle it alone.

Always, He is our strength.  Always, He gives sufficient grace.  Always, we have hope in what is unseen and eternal.  Always, we have comfort in His love.

And, in these promises, you and I can rest.

Out of the depths
I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications.
If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
that You may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning ~
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy,
and with Him is abundant redemption…
~from Psalm 130

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