It’s four in the morning and I’m wide awake and angry about it; tossing and turning has done little to fuel exhaustion back to sleep. Begrudgingly I receive my insomnia as an invitation to prayer.
It’s a sleepy intercession for the troublesome circumstances of others, an opportunity, also, to pray for my children. With two in college and my youngest a high school senior, they’re reason enough to pray without ceasing. My daughter presented an even stronger case when she accepted a 12-week internship in the Philippines this summer, her time to be divided between big city and rural village. We would have rare chance to be in touch–an occasional email or Skype call, a reality I accepted but didn’t like.
I thank God for His presence and place in the lives of my children and somewhere along pleas for protection I finally drift to sleep.
When your children are small, you begin praying for them to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, a good thing to pray throughout their lives.
What you might not anticipate is what that could look like when they grow up.
I’ve parented with an open hand, weaning my children from a dependence on me in age-appropriate measure. Sometimes I’ve wanted to take that all back. It’s a gift now when they need their mommy.
It’s lovely to discover, even when your children are older, sometimes it is only the touch of their mother that will cure their ill, comfort their heart, satisfy their need.
A receptive ear, a secure embrace, a home-cooked meal–the equivalent of kissing skinned knees and bandaging imaginary booboos.
Sometimes if your child loves the Lord with all her heart, soul, strength and mind, that means she’ll follow Him to the remotest ends of the earth. It’s your job to let her go.
I was on my second cup of coffee when I noticed a missed call from my husband, my phone still silenced from the night before. His subsequent text was just two words: Call me.
It’s not odd for that text to follow a missed call of his; he knows too often I forget to turn up my volume. What’s odd to me is there’s always a catch in my spirit when I see those words, as if he’s calling to discuss something more sinister than our dinner plans or his need to stay late. It’s silly that I’m relieved after we talk, that somewhere in the back of my mind I kinda/not really/but really worry think there might be something more.
“I doubt you know this already or you would have told me,” he begins, “but there was a pretty bad typhoon in the Philippines yesterday….”
My pulse races along with my mind.
I realize how long it’s been since we talked with our daughter.
Our morning was spent exhausting every avenue that could lead us to Rachel. With a 12-hour time difference, the office of the organization for whom she is interning was closed. We called or emailed everyone we could think of who might be able to tell us something. Anything.
But we can find nothing where she is concerned.
I tracked the path of the typhoon. I scoured the internet for updates. I scrolled images of the storm’s destruction.
Desperation does crazy, pointless things like that.
Intellect and reason tell me likely she is fine. The storm’s path was south of her, regardless of whether she was in Manila or north in the village. Still, there was loss of life and damage to homes and business, all painful and devastating.
Doubts begin to rain and I can’t help but believe it’s the prayers of a few friends that level my anxiety.
I’m holding my breath while this day lasts forever.
It’s 4:00 a.m. and I’m wide awake but not angry.
Prayer is my first instinct this time but there’s a constant interruption of What Ifs.
Even though 95 percent of me felt like she was in a safe place, it’s that 5 percent that demands attention. Not knowing is the worst.
So I finally get up to check email (again), with little hope and no expectation of hearing anything yet, since so many are still without power.
But I was wrong.
It’s the familiarity of my own subject line I see first, “When it’s hard to be a Mama….”
But it’s the first words of her reply that balm my uncertainties, “I’m totally fine!!!”
At four in the morning I’m a kitchen charismatic, dancing in my spirit and thanking God out loud that my daughter is not only okay but able to tell me so with three exclamation points.
I do not take it for granted that this story has a happy ending.
Scripture and song looped in my head while I waited to hear an update —
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…” (James 1:2-4)
“I’ll praise you in this storm….” (Casting Crowns)
“He gives and takes away…” (Matt Redman’s Blessed Be Your Name, based on Job 1:21)
Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. (my rough translation of Psalm 121:1-2)
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials… (1 Peter 1:6-7)
I thought about the book we just completed for our Bloom summer study (Pursue the Intentional Life), the part where the author challenges readers to do the “advance work” of preparing for inevitable future events; little losses that can break your spirit, bigger losses that can break your heart or the biggest ones that can simply break you.
I began writing this in the dark, before I received my daughter’s email. I thought about those of you in the midst of your own life storms whose endings are hard or hurtful. For you, I wish I could step through your screen, sit by your side and hold your hand or loan my shoulder to catch your tears.
In the wake of tragedy, as mature believers, we know the “right” answers, the scriptures to “claim,” how we’re supposed to behave…
For just a moment can we allow space to be real and honest rather than me tie this up neatly with joy-filled bows and religious platitudes?
What if this had been one of those times when my faith was stretched so far it could snap?
This is a holy wrestle.
I think God can handle it.
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love always ~ robin
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