Thoughts and Meditations from verses and stories through one guy's head and heart... Psalm 124:7
Thursday, August 27, 2009
When you have little kids, you have to wake up a lot in the middle of the night, but the thing is you never really get used to it. Jack is sleeping through the night now, but for most of the past year, our nightly sleep has been divided into two or three parts. This is a very disorienting situation; especially when you are awakened in the middle of a deep sleep cycle. Most of the time when Jack starts his nocturnal crying, I don’t even remember getting out of the bed… I simply discover myself out in the hallway moving toward his bedroom. My sleepy hands feel like clubs or boxing gloves: totally incapable of fine motor skills. My head is usually swimming in some sort of limbo in between sleeping and waking and my eyes are just so heavy they won’t stay open for more than a second. One time a couple of months ago, I actually ran into the doorframe of my bedroom with my shoulder, which spun me around 180 degrees and propelled me into the hallway where I just kept on walking backwards to Jack’s bedroom.
That is how I usually wake up in the middle of the night, but a few weeks ago it was different. I was sound asleep in the bed when I heard it… Anna screamed! But she didn’t just scream, she screamed, “Daddy!!” this scream was punctuated by cries and shouts, but there weren’t many because as soon as that first syllable of “Daddy!!” broke the silence of our sleeping house, I was out of bed, on my feet and at my bedroom door, poised for whatever. It wasn’t the drowsy, zombie-esque response I usually give… I was like a man possessed. I didn’t know what I was about to find in her room, but my jaw was set and my fists were clenched. I was completely awake and completely ready for action… Now, as it turns out, Anna was crying because she thought she saw a black widow spider, which turned out to be a cricket, so all that was needed was for me to hold her, reassure her and tuck her back in.
This week, I’ve felt like Anna did that night… there have been so many problems and so much drama around here that I’m starting to freak out as if I’ve seen a black widow spider. It feels like every time I turn around we’re on the cusp of another crisis with no apparent solution! This has caused me to react in much the same way Anna did… I’m waking up in the middle of the night and crying for my Daddy to help me! My journal pages are filled with pleas for help! Sometimes that’s all you can do and on a couple of occasions, that’s all I’ve written or said or prayed, “Father, please help us.”
That’s why I was so pumped when I read Psalm 12 the other day. Verse 5 says, “Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,” says the Lord.” When I read that verse I said, “Hey! That’s me! I’m weak! I’m completely needy! I need God Almighty to come down here and help me!” And He says, “I will now arise.” Whoa… That’s what I need; not solutions or wise plans, but God to help me. And just like I flew out of that bed and ran to Anna ready for whatever, He is now going to arise and come to my aid, even if it just to tell me that my black widow is only a cricket and tuck me back in.
Anna's in Kindergarten!!! How in the world did THAT happen so fast?
Anna and Norah outside the new school:
Here's Anna finding her name on the class list...
Pumped about new toys to play with in the classroom!!
Well, we did it. We made it through the first day of Kindergarten… Anna strapped up her backpack, grabbed her lunchbox and waltzed right into her elementary school with her brand new pink New Balance shoes on her feet and a smile on her face. When I asked her about it later she said that she was a bit nervous but mainly just excited. She loves her class, she loves her teacher and she has already made a new best friend. I can’t believe it! I can’t believe we’re already here and that my little girl is going to school. I know everybody says this kind of cheesy stuff, but I can totally remember holding her right after she was born. I can remember her first tooth, her first steps, all of that stuff, and now she’s school age… oh man. I said to Christy, “Do you realize that you were sixteen when we met and fell in love and now we’ve got a kindergartener with two other kids at home?!” I mean, I still remember standing outside my school on the first day of kindergarten!!! Ahhh!! Doesn’t this train seem to be going faster than it used to?!
For weeks I’ve been praying for Christy because we both knew this would be a rough day for her. We have tiptoed around the whole ‘kindergarten’ subject so that she would be able to just slowly prepare herself. The joke was on me though. Christy did great that day! I, on the other hand… I mean, to be honest, in the weeks leading up to this thing, I was pretty excited. On Monday morning Christy pulled up to church with the van so I could accompany them to school. I was pumped for Anna and she looked great. Then we got there, parked the car and something unexpected happened. As the kids were getting out of the van, Anna said, “Daddy, will you hold me?”
It was all I could do to keep it together. I may never forget that moment… I didn’t speak a whole lot as we took her to the classroom and met with her excellent teacher. I somehow made it back to the van and as we drove away I just lost it… my baby’s growing up. I can’t stop it…
In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul says, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
What he means is that this life on earth is merely a camping trip. We’re in a tent and soon we’ll get to go home. In fact, the rest of this life is God Himself pulling up the tent stakes. The hard stuff, the tears, troubles, pains and tragedies are reminding us that we were made for a place with none of these. What is mortal is going to get swallowed up by real, vibrant, full and eternal life. Your troubles are your teachers and one of the biggest lessons they have for you is this: We aren’t staying here, we’re leaving. Dad told me on Monday that I’ll turn around three times and Anna will be graduating high school… whoa. That’s gonna be rough; but go ahead, Lord, pull that stake. I’m ready to go.
Have you ever stood in the way of your own prayers? I think I have… Last night it was as if I was the world’s most awesome goalie with a flawless record of saves who was relentlessly blocking every shot the Lord was taking to answer my own prayers… Okay, first, let’s take a look back at yesterday’s journal page to an excerpt of my prayers for the day: “Father, make our house a place of love and encouragement, of kindness and tender friendship. May the joy of Christ reign in all our hearts today…” I really wanted that for my family and for my own heart and then I got home and blew it…
It was dinnertime for the girls, there were six million dishes, Jack was hungry and I was tired. I decided to handle dishes first while passing some graham crackers to Jack for him to negotiate on his own terms. By the time I fed Jack properly, the girls were clamoring for their food and asking me every thirteen seconds what they were having for dinner. Finally I put Jack in bed and started the girls’ food, but this too was a mess because Jack wasn’t going to sleep! The brother screamed as if he were a Civil War soldier having a limb amputated and with every moment I descended deeper and deeper into a melancholy funk. I had encouraging music on in the house, but my determined frustration was like Teflon to the praise… it simply slid off without permeating my defenses and changing my heart in the least. I was short with the girls and on edge at every turn when I finally saw myself…
I turned off the music and asked Anna and Norah to come into the kitchen. We all sat down on the carpet and I apologized… I told them I was sorry for being so grumpy and asked them to forgive me. I told them I didn’t want to be this person and asked them if they would give me another chance. They said they would and we had the best night ever, full of happiness and laughter! I had asked God to make our house a place where the joy of Christ reigns, and then I forgot that the joy of Christ is the kind of joy that is happy when it doesn’t make sense. Psalm 4 says, “Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, Oh Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.”
It struck me that back in the day, there was no joy like harvest joy… I mean, when the grain and new wine abound, that’s guaranteed life and fullness! I bet people went crazy at harvest with more outrageous mirth than any other time of the year! You probably can’t be more joyful than those folks were at a good harvest, which means that the question is this: if you can’t have more joy than harvest joy, then what does he mean by greater joy than harvest joy? I think it means having that kind of joy when there’s no grain and no wine… when it’s a tough night with a screaming baby and tons of dishes. Harvest joy without the harvest is the greater joy. That is the unreasonable and awesome joy of Christ.
As I walked out onto the field to watch the high school football team practice yesterday, I had to step with caution over someone’s lunch… they had obviously underestimated the heat and the intensity of the workout, because they should have said “No” to that last piece of pizza. Then I heard Dad going off on some guy because he got yet another headache after their group had already been given four water-breaks in that half hour. I smiled to myself as I heard him deliver that familiar speech about how these players had obviously spent their summer “sittin’ around in front of the T.V in the air conditionin’!” I can remember being in high school before summer practice began sitting on the couch in the cool house when Dad would come downstairs and say, “Son, if you don’t get off that couch, get out in the heat and run a little bit, you’re gonna die a thousand deaths come two-a-days!” Eventually he brought home a pair of practice cleats, set them down in front of me and turned the T.V off. I went out into the heat and ran sprints.
Two-a-days are hard, no matter how you slice it. Getting up early in July, practicing football as hard as you can for hours, then taking a break and practicing for another couple of hours every day just wears you out. But it’s so much worse if you’re out of shape! The sprints are hard. The drills are hard. The days are long and the intensity is high, but if you’re out of shape, it does feel kind of like dying a thousand deaths… After my first year of varsity football, I stayed in excellent shape all summer long and the reason was simple: There’s no stopping two-a-days! They’re coming whether you like it or not! You can’t change the heat, you can’t change the intensity and you can’t change the fact that you have to practice twice a day. The only way you can make a difference in two-a-days is to get on board now… get in shape now, so you’re ready to go.
This morning I was reading Psalm 2, which talks about how God is setting up the Messiah as His King to run this world. The folks in power think they’re calling the shots, but the Psalmist says that God just laughs at them in this attitude. They try to throw off His control, but God mocks them. Verse 6 says, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” It struck me that God is saying, “I declare Jesus to be King and give Him authorization to rule over all. One day He’s totally going to do just that!” In other words, He is the King and one day every creature will acknowledge it. You can’t stop it. You can’t affect a change or influence a swing vote against Him. One day He will openly rule this entire universe with complete and final authority. The only thing you can change is yourself…
You can get ready! God has made Him King. Have you? God has crowned Him Sovereign. Have you crowned Him today? God has given him total control and complete authority. Have you given Him this? There is no getting around it… One day soon He will be your King. The only thing you can do about it is to go ahead and make Him your King. If you do, you’ll find out just how good life is in this realm… Emmanuel’s Land. Make Him your King today. Go ahead and crown Him. You’ll find out just how good He is!