The days are long, but the years are short. Is there a statement more true? We blink, and childhood is over. Another quick moment, and we are adults. We bring our own babies into the world, and in no time at all, they have left the safety of my warm chest and are falling and bruising their forehead on every piece of furniture in the house. I open my eyes again to find them running in the yard. Climbing to the top of the playground. Running free, backs to me. Feet barely hitting the ground. I hold the handles of their bikes for seconds, and then they are off. I cut the food into the tiniest bits, until one day I look and they have already done it. I sit in the floor cross legged, helping put chubby feet in pant holes and heads in the right way. “Tag in the back by the booty” hundreds of times, and then one day they come to find me fully clothed and hair brushed.
It’s beautiful and heartbreaking in the same breath. It can be hard to differentiate between the two sometimes. I want to remember every single piece of it, and yet, I have already forgotten so much. I want to be in every moment, and sit and savor it. But, it is an art I’m afraid most of us may not learn until some of the most pivotal moments have passed. There are 12,000 things on my to-do list. I check them off. I listen to kids play (or scream) in the background; I take the littlest to the potty 200 times a day (surely we get extra jewels for potty training, right God?). I answer emails. I return to checklist. I add to checklist. I budget. I add to my Wal-mart pick up. I return to checklist. And through each checking off of a box, the earth never stops moving. The sun continues to rise and fall. The sound of life awakening, all the sleeping things stretching to life for another day on Earth. Each morning the slow blinking of dawn soon fades into the shadows of dusk. And when the birds’ chirping remind me that morning is here, I am tempted to immediately start on that checklist, even if only in my mind.
But like the flicker of a candle in a dark room, there it is. A gentle and steady voice that I am eternally grateful for. “Return to me, and I will return to you.” Just a whisper beneath the surface but undeniably there. And the reminder of the breath in my lungs and the very heartbeat of those I love beating steady and true is enough to halt me. God, I can’t do this without you. You see me, don’t you? I think He is reminding me of this over and over lately. After a very long season of feeling forgotten, it is a beautiful truth I am learning. He sees me, and I know He sees you. In the steady moments of life where you endlessly run from the chirping of birds to the twinkling of stars, He is right there with you. In your sleep, He keeps you. In the unexpected, He knows how it will end. He always has.
And the acknowledgment of Him being there is enough to every day begin this beautiful relationship with the God who made it all. A God worth getting to know. A God who loves and holds the broken-hearted and forgotten. A God who over and over and over makes scarred things stronger. A God who never fails. A God who is a shelter and refuge. And this world turns us all into refugees in some way or other. We will, all of us, at one point find ourselves in need of safety and shelter. From others, from our own thoughts, for our children. I imagine I could put many, many things on the page for reasons why we are all human refugees. And God in His infinite love says “I’ve got you. No harm will come your way. Come. Hide under the shelter of my wings.” And wouldn’t you do the same for your children? If there is even the threat of danger, I find myself automatically in front of them. My body in place of theirs. No question. No second of decision. It just is. It will always be that way. And God put that inside of me, so imagine how much more so He feels that for His children as He is the very source of where this innate sacrificial love comes from.
And somewhere in the finding of His fierce love and the utterance of His name on my lips, the checklist is forgotten for a little while. My eyes awaken to a different reality. My spirit filled with a thankfulness, and in that thankfulness I can savor everything just a bit more. A smile more ready on my face. Laughter closer to the surface. An acknowledgment that in His life, mine is found. A beautiful reminder that there is rest in Him. Jehovah Shalom. God of peace. And peace is the place where moments can be savored, stored away to pull out in years to come. Peace is the place where I sit in a world that is falling apart at 90 miles an hour and know that my God will still be left standing. He will never falter. He will never fail. He will be a place of refuge for my children and myself, and I will acknowledge Him through every bit of it.
“Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.”