Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Coming Home

With great joy – and a heart full of half-serious vows never to leave again – I am thrilled to say: we are home! Home to our perfectly imperfect life – and so very grateful.

It’s hard to believe it was little more than eight days ago – for it feels much longer - that we arrived at my parent’s house, windblown and wasted, with sand in our shoes and salt in our hair.

After a week away from Dutch, I was already tired. I missed my own bed, my old routine. But we couldn’t go home, “no, not yet,” as Audrey would say, for my dear grandmother was traveling all the way from New York to spend Labor Day with us, to meet her newest great-grandchild and visit with her oldest one.

We would be alright, I told myself, with so much to keep us busy. This turned out to be wishful thinking, however, for the week proceeded as if orchestrated in perfect accordance with Murphy’s Law: everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

But before it all began, the clouds parted for a brief instant and I received a premonition of sorts, when I spread a quilt onto my parent’s lawn and lay down with Evie and my Bible. The reading for the day just happened to be out of Daniel – the passage which tells of his being thrown into the lion’s den.

The poignancy of the story struck me anew and when I read how king Darius, with whom Daniel had found favor, passed a solicitous, sleepless night, then hurried to the den and called down in a troubled voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?’” (6.20), tears inexplicably filled my eyes.

Of course, I am no Daniel – no, not even close – and yet, I thought, it is like that, sometimes, serving God. You’re alone (or so it seems) in a dank, dark place and there is no sound of comfort; only growls.

One can only imagine how awesome was the pause before Daniel replied in, I suspect, a haggard but even voice, "My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths and they have not harmed me…” (6.22).

Indeed, I thought, God may shut the lions' mouths but this may not preclude one from having to spend an occasional night in their den.

The next morning, following a troubled night of sleep, I was enveloped once more by a whirlwind of mishaps. Audrey pushed the automatic lock button on the car door; and both girls had to sit, strapped in their car seats, for 30 agonizing minutes until AAA finally arrived. That night, after deciding spontaneously to stay the night with Aunt Sommer, Audrey took her diaper off in bed and soiled all her blankets. After a late bath, and a bout of musical beds (Sommer graciously transferred a sleeping Silas out of his room and into hers so that Audrey could sleep in a cooler, cozier environment), I lay down to sleep myself (next to my daring and generous mother-in-law) but found I couldn't, and lay awake, in a kind of restless panic, until after 4 am.

More events subsequently transpired than I have energy to describe. To name but a few: I received two parking tickets, was locked out of my Aunt’s home while inside lay a sleeping Evie (I knocked frantically, and to no avail, on the neighbor’s door, hopped the back fence and circled the house like a mad woman, a gardening tool in my hand, searching vainly for a way to pry my way inside until, at last, I ran into the street and waved a car down to borrow a phone), spent hours stuck in traffic, missed one flight, experienced a most harrowing 2-year-old meltdown on another, and finally, just as we were descending into Tucson, found that our plane was struck by lightning.

During each successive incident I experienced, all at once, and usually just before the highest moment of tension, one single second of inner calm: “Remember Daniel,” said a voice, “waiting upon God in the lion's den,” to which my soul responded with a desperate, plaintive cry, Lord, please draw near to me now. Let me not fail this test. Let me be changed and molded by this experience. Let my heart grow softer and not embittered; and let me, above all, please You and You alone.

On our last night in town we stayed in a hotel – just me and the girls – in the hopes of enjoying some quiet and, perhaps, a few winks of sleep. But, alas, midnight arrived to find Audrey still standing wide awake in her pack-n-play begging “to be excused” and insisting, “No, I can’t, Mom! I can’t, Mommy! I can’t!” each time I told her it was time to go to sleep.

Finally, I drew her into my lap and we retreated to the balcony, and sat upon a loveseat made of logs, while I stroked her hair and sang every hymn in my remembrance. “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,” I sang, “just to take him at his Word, just to rest upon his promise, just to know, ‘thus saith the Lord.”

At long last, she fell asleep. But before I tucked her back into bed I considered just what His word and promise really assured me. First, that nothing can ever separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus; and second, that I can expect trouble as long as I am in this world. Tribulation is guaranteed, alongside – and in advance of – glory.

Why, oh why must it be so? I wondered.

I'm sure I'll never know.

I imagine there will be many more times when I feel as though I've been thrown into my own, proverbial, den of lions. But thank God! For He is capable of using such adversity to transform my soul; and though some battles will be fought and lost, in the end, He promises victory.


Less than 24 hours later, while stalking away from the airport baggage carousel, Dutch, already heaving from the weight of our bags, threw a heavy look at me.“Are you ready to go home?” he asked over his shoulder.

“Seriously,” I said, “is that a real question?”

I trailed aimlessly after him until a man in a striped shirt stopped in front of me and stared in amazement. “I know you,” he said, his finger pointing vaguely at my chest, “You were walking through the Vegas airport with everybody screaming…”

“Yes,” I said, dryly, “that was me.”

“But then,” he went on, a smile breaking out across his face, “when you came out of the bathroom– the storm had passed.”

“Yes, well,” I explained, “the 2-year-old exhausted herself from screaming and fell asleep.”

“I hope you can get some rest tonight,” he said.

And that, dear reader, is precisely what I intend to do.

1 comment:

B Dunlap said...

Oh my goodness, Heather- what adventures! This post made me laugh aloud and then promptly tear up. I'm glad you made it home safely and I can't wait to meet up soon.