He’s sprawled out beside my sleeping husband right now, the little love. They are both passed out on our bed, lights still on. Superman pajama top, Christmas jammy bottom. I found him at the top of the stairs before my shower, eyes wide with the sound of a summer-storm thunder, clutching “Ur” his stuffed elephant (because that’s the sound elephants make, of course!)
“Honey, can Xavi cuddle with you on the couch while you read?” I yell downstairs. Apparently, they took that suggestion a step further.
He’s still now but earlier this evening he was radiating energy. Too long an afternoon nap. At the playground he pin-balled from slide to see saw to rock wall. Eventually the spinning slowed and he found his way to one side of a “talking tube.” He motioned and I placed my ear at the other opening.
“I love you my lady!” he yelled. (Yup, he’s been calling me “my lady” lately accompanied by a silly grin. This afternoon I got a “your highness” so I’m not complaining.)
“Xavier Stephan Gross, I love you more,” I whispered into the tube.
“No, mama, I love YOU more! I love you more than THAT!” He yelled, throwing his arms up.
“Well, buddy I love you to the moon and back.” (I know, not that original.)
“Mama, I love you to the moon and then to the ocean and back.”
“Buddy, I love you to Africa and back.”
“Mama,” he got super loud, “I LOVE YOU EVERYWHERE!”
(Ahhhh, and there it was…the trump card.)
I grabbed him for a tickle, giggle fest.
But, really Friend, I didn’t use to believe that God loved me everywhere. I believed that I could walk into the profane and get entangled where God’s Presence couldn’t penetrate. Then, I was sure my sins created a barrier, a locked door. I forgot He’s good at walking through those…even running. The prodigal’s Father ran toward his Son way before he had a chance to utter anything remotely resembling repentance.
But I don’t just fear my sin’s imaginary barrier, I fear somehow stepping out of a gigantic masterplan of God’s where I and redemption couldn’t weasel our way back in. I fear stepping off the Kingdom grid. Yes, bad theology, but nonetheless what gets preached to you in high school usually gets shoved down hard until fear dredges it back up.
Moving feels a bit like that. I’m off the grid. Nothing feels rock stable and it’s easy to imagine that God was left back on the table with that last set of keys.
But, then this:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
(Psalm 139: 7-12)
Your right hand will hold me fast. Your right hand will hold me fast.
When I fear I haven’t been hearing correctly, haven’t placed my feet on the right stepping stone, He holds me fast.
When I feel uprooted, unearthed, He still holds me fast.
When loneliness undoes me in the quiet of a new town, my phone stopped ringing days ago, He holds me fast.
When I hide from Him and the quiet, folding myself into the familiar of Facebook, He still holds me fast.
I’ve been closing my eyes lately and remembering that HE IS HERE…
just like He was there…
and practicing this, the 3 R’s:
Resting (closing my eyes, breathing deep, connecting to God’s Presence, here.)
Receiving His love (His Word of truth, gift of Presence, love outpouring…yup, it’s always that close)
Responding (I love you too.)
And then in the stress-free quiet I always seem to hear, “I love you more.”
And as I practice this simple prayer, I’m beginning to believe, He truly does loves me everywhere even hidden here in the folds of these Pennsylvania hills.
I learned the 3R’s from my dear mother and she learned it from a spiritual director/counselor in Lancaster, PA, Robert Woodcock. Thank you Robert!
And you, friend, if you have just 3 minutes, might I recommend the 3 R’s? Rest. Receive his love. Respond. Then tell me how it goes in the comment section? I’m one of those nosy ones and love to hear tales of the gifts He’s handing out.
I’ve linked up with the always insightful and tremendously talented Jennifer Dukes Lee here: