This is When It Strikes You Most

In the whispering crack of my door opening, I wake and feel him tiptoe near.

“Mom?” he asks and I know.

“I’ll be right there.”

Photo Credit: Flickr user Daniel Gies, Creative Commons, cc license

He pads away, hands out to navigate the dark room and hallway. I hear his door open and shut across the corridor. Wrapping myself in my blue African cloth, I maneuver the bed, the laundry pile, and into my eight year old’s room.

“What’s up, bud?” I crouch and sit down beside his low bed.

“My cousin, Ben, you know?”

I nod sleepily.

“My cousin, Ben, and me, we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in their yard, and there was a big snake — a black cobra. And he got Ben!”

I rest my hand on Daniel’s chest. His heart, still fluttering and hammering against bone and skin, bounces under my palm.

“I’m sorry, bud. Dreams can be scary.” Smoothing his hair, I stroke his cheek and feel his breathing slow. “Should we talk to God?”

He nods vigorously in the dark.

“Want me to, or you?”

“I will,” he says and he starts immediately. “God, I’m scared. Will you help me? Will you help me not be scared? Thanks.

“Mom? Will you sing a song?” he asks, a quiet voice rising up from the blue and pink Piglet pillow in the dark.

“Sure,” and I wrack my brain to be awake, to find helpful words and this is when it strikes you most. Need to know What you Know that you Know? Ask a sleepy brain to spout truth. What bubbles up is what you have become convinced of, what has become ingrained in your bones, what pounds in fluttered rhythm with your heart. A verse come, its reference forgotten but its truth burnished in dark bedroom from constant use. “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” The words ring out, the refuge is clear, and I say it again, then move into the next.

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you, oh God, are with me. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you, oh God, are with me, Psalm 4:8, Psalm 4:8, Psalm 4:8.” And even the reference is part of the song lyrics we made up years ago in an effort to imprint these truths in our hearts, in our beings.

There were two other songs we sang, childlike and simple, yet with truths that have become bedrock and bone to us. “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, he’s so good to us. He gives good things, he gives good things, he gives good things, he’s so good to us.” We end with “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so; little ones to him belong, we are weak but he is strong.” 

“Thanks, Mom,” he murmurs and I can hear the peace in his voice, the thick tiredness creeping in. I kiss his face, trail my fingers on his quiet chest, and pull the door shut behind me.

Slipping beneath my blanket, I lie awake. The minutes stretch to hours in this new forty-something season. My brain flips topics and writes To Do Lists, making mental notes for morning. I think of the college applications my daughter has been doing (some colleges looming distant); remember this week’s presidential debates; ponder futures, and I feel my own heart start to flutter faster.

And like my son, I whisper to the God of the world, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you… I will lie down and sleep in peace for you, oh God, are with me.” A story and passage teases my mind from earlier and I vow to look it up. Today over coffee, I page to find it and smile in recognition. An ancient world leader in crisis speaks it out and his words are timeless: “[God], we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 

And those truths settle deep beneath our ribs, bubbling up when bidden and shaping who we are.

Hi friend. What truths or foundational verses bubble up inside you? I love to learn and hear from others. 

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  1. cabinart on September 30, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Heartwarming and comforting post, Jennifer (even without references to food!) I rely on Jeremiah 29:13 (He has good plans for me) and Romans 8:28 (He can use any situation for a good outcome), along with "Be still and know that I am God" (reference forgotten).

    "New forty-something season" – may your sleepless season be short. Mine began in the 2nd F-word decade and may now finally be slowing down. Sometimes it is just easier to give up and get up and be productive.

  2. Bill (cycleguy) on October 2, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Aaaaah those different seasons of life! But some things never change…like a young child needing him mom. or even an adult daughter who cries and lets her dad hold her. He will remember…not the song or the verse…but the mom who sat/laid/cuddled with him.

  3. Cheryl Barker on October 10, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    Jennifer, I love that the same sweet words from the Word that comforted your son in his time of fear comforted you in yours as well. A couple of passages that cover just about everything for me are Prov 3:5-6 (trust in the Lord with all your heart . . .) and Psalm 121:1-2 (I lift up my eyes to the hills . . .) Blessings to you and yours!

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