It’s early when I think it. Dark out, still night, but technically morning. A train trembles in the distance, its whistle, warning, awakening. I smile, calling to mind my sweet boys, tucked in upstairs, their love of all things with wheels and particularly for my oldest, trains.
Where is it? I dig out my gratitude journal from under a stack of clean jammies, papers and my calendar, all heaped on the kitchen counter. I had tucked it there so in case a glass had spilled or the flowers had overflowed, my thankgivings would be protected.
Praises are that valuable.
I tug it out from under the pile and start listing. One after another. The coffee growing cold in the mug and I don’t care. I’ve been up for over an hour, the darkness is still as black as it was when I awoke, but it’s bright. So bright in my kitchen and I’m heart glowing. Feeding it in and fueling it out. Thank You, thank You.... I don’t deserve this, I didn’t earn that, and wow, that was a complete surprise.
Another whistle blows in the distance.
I pray it doesn’t awaken sleepy heads.
It’s been three days since Sunday, when I stood with our choir and praised and God split my heart right open. During our sound check, I choked. Swallowed it down. No, no, emotions. Chill out. Don’t mess me up. By first service I was a wavering reed, standing tall but swaying. Knees crumbling. My eyes closed, my throat bleating. Over and over we sing it, that God is our help. Psalm 121 forever memorized in my deepest heart.
Second service rolls and before the first sentences are out, I’m streaming. I’m a cracked fountain and I raise my hands and the tears chase each other down my face, my neck. I’m unashamed. You can’t hold back the raging waters. You can’t dam up the One, true Fountain. You can’t proclaim His Words back to Him, straight out to His people, in the middle of a modern temple, and not feel humbled. Thankful. Pounding gratitudes with every heartbeat. Shouldn’t I take off my shoes? Isn’t this burning, holy gound? I want to kneel. I want to lay in the middle of the stage and worship, head and face into the floor.
The song has sung itself to me over and over. In the quiet. In the loud. In the normal, every day. I lay down and try to relax, find the perfect spot in the bed, whisper a, “Thank You, God for this day...” and it’s there, strumming through my memory. “The Lord is thy keeper, the Lord is thy shade...” Over and over. He keeps. He hides. He heals. And?
He stays up all night. He stays up all day.
For me. You.
I’m recording thanks, how precious the peace feels, not because they are asleep and not causing a ruckus or destroying my orderly system, but because they are at rest. And I’m watching over it all. I’m making sure I’m quiet. Making sure their rest is protected. I’m giving thanks and thinking about our day to come, praying I’ll be patient in it. I’m preparing a way for the day... even while they sleep.
But I don’t stay up all night (even though it feels like it sometimes). And I’m not awake all day (even though I am tired enough to feel like I have never slept).
Only God. Only God truly always, always watches.
I hear their morning voices on the monitor. Their brotherhood chatter. I don’t rush to get them, not because I’m busy or because I’m not ready for the day to begin. I am. My heart beats a little faster. I’ve missed their sweetness, just over the course of ten hours or so. But I want to linger on the fringes. Observing the starts of a brotherhood bond.
My palm on the back of their door, I push it open softly. They are both standing in bed, staring at each other across the room. Joel tells me that Travis needed a friend, so he was talking to him to make him happy. I get Joel out first. He races to Travis’ side and says, “I don’t worry about monsters, buddy! Jesus is for me!”
I pause in the dark, flicking off the sound machine, standing slow.
“What did you say?”
“Jesus is for me.” I mother-grin big.
“That’s right, honey. He so is.”
And that’s how we started our day. A regular Wednesday in February. And I wonder, how many things in this life, in this day, in this morning alone, will be helped, carried, or pitted away, just by that truth. Just by that simple proclamation that He is for us. In the dark. In the snow-packed cold. Before the sun creeps up and down again.
Our keeper. Our shade. Our watchful Eye every moment, of every day.
Not because of anything we do or have or can give. Never us.
But only ever because... He is.
“And if our God is for us,
then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us,
then what could stand against?
And if our God is for us, then who
could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us,
then what could stand against?”
~ C h r i s T o m l i n