It had been a long day. The dog days of summer had arrived and the heaviness of the heat seemed to stifle even in the house where the air was conditioned. We had finally adjusted to being together all day every day, me and the kiddos, but I still fell into bed exhausted each night as soon as they were asleep.
Daddy was working late. He was still gone when we tumbled into the house at 8:30pm. It had been a day of summer activities, sunshine, friends, and fun. But I was tired. I wanted to sleep but I also wanted to be alone. I had big plans to watch TV or do my nails or write or quite literally anything I normally can’t do freely when they’re awake. I made sure their undies were clean and their teeth were brushed. I made sure they both went potty and picked out a book. I read without the usual flare and expression, yawning every other page. I tucked them in, and kissed them quick so I could finish the dinner dishes before it got too late for me to enjoy my alone time.
And there it was, before I had even emptied the sink. The littlest one was crying. I tried hard to usher him back to bed, frustration edging into my voice.
He shuffled into the living room, his blanket in front of his face, his voice shaking: “I’m scared, mommy.” Compassion washed over me, and I scooped him up.
“What are you scared of, buddy?”
“I heard a storm. And I think there’s a monster.”
I could hear the distant thunder and wind in the trees, signaling an impending storm. As I carried him back to bed, I heard the older one calling for me.
“I’m scared too, mom,” she said, her eyes filling with tears. “One of the big kids told a scary story tonight, and I can’t stop thinking about it.”
I took a deep breath. As parents so often do, I dismissed my original plans for the evening. I silently motioned for her to follow me into her little brother’s bedroom. I tucked all three of us in, blankies and stuffed animals and all, me in the middle. We talked about the storm. We talked about the scary story my daughter had heard. We prayed, we cuddled, we chatted about what was real, what wasn’t.
As we fell asleep, the oldest clung to my back with long legs wrapped around me like a baby monkey. The littlest one, a small spoon, nestled in front of me, our spines curving parallel like a two-lane highway sloping gently in the dark. His pudgy feet were shoved beneath me to stay warm.
I scratched backs. Laughed at jokes. Stayed tucked close. I promised I wouldn’t leave until they were asleep. It wasn’t long before they drifted off to sleep, their breathing long and even.
There were rumblings of a storm…there were lies they had heard…they were scared, and they needed me close. How nice must it be to be scooped up and tucked in the second we are scared? How secure and comforting would that feel? Sometimes I long to be a child again.
But as I prayed silently in the glow of a nightlight, it dawned on me. God does do that. The Holy Spirit whispers close. I can distinctly remember times, even as a young child, coming to God in prayer and feeling my soul gently placed on solid ground. I have had times of gripping fear and stifling anxiety. When I have had the right mind to focus on prayer, He reminds me it’s going to be ok. He is with me in it all, and He won’t leave me.
I realize as much as I beg for comfort, the world begs louder still. The suffering of people, here in my town and on the other side of the earth, goes deep. It is the single thing that often shakes my faith in God and makes me feel like Gavin did, nervous and shaky at the things I see and hear. It’s like the rumblings of thunder he hears in the distance and the violent wind that shakes the tree branches just outside his window. It’s just like that storm: it’s not here but it seems to be coming for me too.
As I call to Him, He does what I did for my kids. He listens to me. He reminds me what is true. He acknowledges my fears, and He calms me down with an old story. He stays close while I rest. And He stands guard while I sleep, close and ready to help me once my feet hit the floor again the next day.
So again I have to trust. I have to trust that the hope Jesus offers me for a real future is just that….real. It’s not whimsical. It’s not positive thinking. It’s not merely, “gee, I hope…” It’s a solid and firm foundation for the soul. Hope that God will make all things new. Hope that He does make all things new, even as we wait.
Trusting in God for our own lives doesn’t just impact us. It impacts those around us. I’ve seen it. It’s the whole “city on a hill, light of the world” thing. I have peace. People wonder where I get it. So I tell them. By engaging with God, He shines through my brokenness to a world that desperately needs that love and hope. Time after time, I’m shocked by how simply sharing my story leads others to a better place. It’s so simple. And I have no idea how that works because my life seems so simple and boring. But somehow, I follow His lead to share, to talk, to write, to ask questions.
As I take the time to love those around me and share life, we all relax a little and, we realize we aren’t alone in the crazy mess. It doesn’t take much. Just a little time, a listening ear, maybe a joke or two.
And He uses it to help tuck in the world, in a way. That's all any of us really want. One look at the morning headlines tells me it's really all we have.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
10 Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you. -Isaiah 54:10
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”