Caleb stirs from his nap with red eyes and a cowlick that stands straight up in salute to the sun or praise to God – I’m not sure which. I always wondered why mothers of boys let their little ones run wild in public with hair sticking out in every direction. Now I understand. Little boy hair does whatever it wishes, and no amount of water, saliva, mousse, or hairspray can tell it otherwise.
We descend to the living room, and the slow and painful process of his awakening takes place as I hold him on my lap. We read books and watch blue jays on the lawn. We’re half way through Corduroy’s saga of the lost button when Darrell’s white truck pulls into the driveway, and Caleb’s off my lap in seconds, pounding on the window to welcome his father onto the property after a long day.
After the welcome hugs and cheers, I kiss the guys goodbye and slip into my walking shoes for a little bit of time out of the house. Like clockwork, Caleb erupts into primal screams. “No! Don’t leave me, Mama,” he yells. “Don’t leave me!”
“I’ll be back in a half-hour,” I assure him, but he’ll have none of it.
I come back from every walk, and yet he fears this might be the one time when I don’t return. I kiss him on the head again and leave, despite the crying. It’s best to just get on with it.
Walking down the road, I’m struck by the parallels between my son’s thoughts and my own thoughts. I recall a dozen times when it felt like the Lord had completely forsaken me: that race I lost, that bad breakup, Bekah’s medical condition, forty weeks of sickness – twice, the day the car broke down at the bridal shop with my baby girl screaming in the backseat, and more.
Things don’t go my way, and I’m prone to find myself wavering. I’m prone to wonder. Prone to leave the God I love. But his promise is this: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Why do I, like little Caleb, doubt that he means what he says?
I think long on this as I walk, and I list the promises for the hard times:
God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).
Nothing can separate me from his love (Romans 8:38-39).
He will go with me through the high waters and the fires (Isaiah 43:2).
He won’t withhold what is good from me (Psalm 84:11).
He is close to those who are brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).
He will use these fiery trials for his glory (1 Peter 1:6-7).
I’m suddenly struck by the reality that I often live like I don’t believe these promises. I live like they count for the struggles and trials of others but not for my own. What if I actually lived like I fully believed every word that proceeds from his mouth?
I would have less fear and a greater capacity to love. I would give freely and store up fewer treasures on earth. I would encounter an abundant kind of life that I’ve been craving all along.
Returning home, Caleb has forgotten about the meltdown that took place when I walked out the door. He’s chasing his dad and his sister around the yard with delighted squeals. I kiss him on the head and go inside to finish cooking dinner. The comfort of resting in these promises feels like an invitation to sheer joy.