Seeing that vision in the dark was a fitting way to start the day. I realize that the last few blogs I’ve written have kind of been downers. The past 2 or 3 weeks have been a period which an adorable friend of Kat and Jay’s refers to as “The Honeymoon’s Over.” It’s just the territory we’re in right now. On any trip, there are sections where the scenery gets ugly. You have no choice but to keep on truckin’ down the highway til you’re through it. We will.
Later in the morning, I picked up my Bible and started reading where I’d left off. It happened to be about Daniel in the lion’s den. I had a flashback of Katherine’s Sunday School class performing the story...must have been about 4th grade or so. As ubiquitously highlighted as some passages are, it always amazes me how there’s still something new that leaps out with each fresh reading. Today it was this sentence: “Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.” (Dan. 6:23) Not even a scratch??? From a den full of hungry lions?
Shortly after that, I walked past a little Beth Moore devotional book I’d just received and picked it up to flip through it. I opened it to the day’s reading. The scripture at the top was: “Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength.” (Is. 40:31) Beth wrote, “The Hebrew word for trust means “to bind together by twisting...to be gathered together, to be joined.” If we want to keep a renewed strength, the Bible tells us to draw so close to the presence of God that we’re practically twisted to Him.” Oh, Beth, how I wish I could stay that tangled up in God, my arms entwined around His neck, my legs around his waist, my face hidden in His shoulder.
My youngest daughter, Grace, was a mischievous little monkey when she was a toddler. I can’t tell you how many times we had to call Poison Control or the E R. She had 4 modes of operation: 1.) Crying 2.) Sleeping 3.) Doing Something Dangerous or 4.) Being Held. Before we even knew what “Multi-Tasking” was, I had developed the skill of being able to talk on the phone with one hand and stir a boiling pot with the other, oblivious to the little blonde appendage hanging off of me. She held my neck in a choke-hold while my waist was cinched by a tight seatbelt of skinny long legs, feet locked behind my back. (No wonder my spine’s a mess now! She’ll have to take care of me in my old age.) If I tried to put her down, those legs would tighten like a broken shoulder strap that just gets tighter and tighter the more you try to loosen it. But no matter what I happened to be doing, Grace felt safer in that place than any other.
James is like that now, although he’s not yet old enough to reach his legs around. My grandson and I have a special little deal going. I’m guessing that, on his part, it’s for complex reasons; on my part, I’m simply completely, stupidly smitten. I talked to James when he was still in-utero long-distance from Georgia to California. I made Katherine hold the phone to her baby bump while I squealed nonsense over the phone. Then, it just happened that I was the first family member to hold him after his birth. Katherine was still involved in the ‘after’ part of the birth process and Jay was taking pictures, when the Neonatologist turned around and said “Would Grandma like to hold him?” (No, Grandma wouldn’t like to hold that perfect little bundle of joy...Right.) As soon as I took him, he opened his beautiful bright eyes and looked straight into mine. We bonded even more during the tumultuous first week of his life, fleeing the raging Malibu fires engulfing Pepperdine. I was blessed by getting to spend quality time with him on several other occasions before our world turned upside down, the last less than 2 weeks before it happened. So I guess it is not surprising that in the first confusing days after Katherine’s surgery, that abruptly-weaned baby should sniff some similar DNA and emotionally latch on to the substitute with Mommy’s hair. (The latching, although precious in some ways, has been problematic in others. There was a time when James did not recognize Katherine and was very frightened by all the machines attached to her. When I tried to get him close enough for her to touch him, he would cry and grab a handful of my hair in each fist, bury his face in it, and try to crawl up into me. Thank God he is beautifully re-bonding with her, and is sweeter with her than anyone else...angelically so.) Anyway, the fact remains that James still feels safe with me. He can be hollering up a storm as someone else holds him, but quiets down when I take him. He trusts me to protect him from whatever frightens him, whether it’s a stranger, a loud noise, or an unfamiliar experience.
This was demonstrated during his first swim. Brooks and I took him down to the apartment pool and I eased him in with me. At first he clung to my neck, but as we got in deeper I loosened his grip until we were just holding hands. I whirled and swirled him around in the cool water until he laughed with joy. He kept his eyes locked on mine the whole time, as if to say, “You better not let go,” but it was evident that he trusted me not to. He just relaxed and let me pull him through the water, finally resting in a face-up float. He didn’t even cry when water went up his nose.
I learn so much from children. My own have helped me understand how much God loves me. “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him ...” (Matt. 7:11)
I am scared about many things right now, sometimes so much that the fear awakens me before the light of morning. But the first thing I see is the shadow of the cross shining in the dark. When I turn on the lights, it disappears. It is only in the darkest times that it is visible, reminding me that the cross remains over me and all my household as I sleep. The blood spilled from that cross covers me, cleanses me, heals me, frees me, fills me.
The nightly apparition simultaneously appears to be a large “t,” pointing me back to the morning’s readings on the pivotal issue of TRUST. Do I trust Him or not? Do I trust in the provisions the cross has secured for me? Do I trust His promises to hold true? Like Daniel, will my trust in Him keep me and mine from harm? Will I choose to take the advice of Job’s wife, or am I going to learn to echo Job: “Though you slay me (or worse, my child), I WILL TRUST IN YOU”? God, will I trust that you are still with me when I can’t see you in the cold, clinical light of another daunting day...as the sight of the cross disappears with morning’s light?
I am going to try to follow James’ example and just cling to my Daddy with all my might. I’m going to try to get more tangled up in Him than the hopelessly tangled necklace in the bottom of my jewelry box. I am going to wrap myself around His Name and His waist and trust Him to teach me to swim.