Several weeks ago… maybe even a couple of months… the Lord blessed me with a vision of Himself through a spontaneous moment that I had with my son, Bennett. This vision -this revelation, if you will – has sat in my heart, periodically stirring, slowly growing, carefully maturing.
It all started with those freakin’ spider crickets. Cave crickets? What are their names? You know the ones that look demon possessed and indicate no clear direction of their jumping trajectory, popping as randomly as popcorn in a hot pan. There are few things worse in this world than an unpredictable cricket.
Well, my husband, Brian, was ramping up Bennett’s bedtime routine with the average toddler bubble bath. Suddenly there was some commotion coming from the bathroom and, sure enough, a cave cricket had crawled its way through the drain pipes and into the tub. Now, I didn’t witness this moment, but in under 30 seconds the cricket was discarded and the water was running.
Bennett, however, was not so sure that the situation was over.
(I don’t blame him.)
Bennett, sweet boy, was still rattled from this cricket.
(My absence in that moment proves that in no way did I project my personal opinions of these creatures into his psyche. They’re flat out gross without any formal education on the matter.)
Bennett wanted nothing to do with that bathtub. Even though the cricket was gone, the fear remained.
Fast forward to Night #2. This time it was Mommy’s turn to initiate the bedtime routine. An entire day later, as we walked toward the bathtub, Bennett began clinging to me, vocalizing his fear of this cricket, convinced it was still lurking in a corner waiting to dive-bomb into us. In all of my persuasiveness and with the soothing tone of a babbling brook, no amount of careful word choice and calming affection could get Bennett out of his escalating tizzy. As he clutched me over the rim of the tub, we both were soaked in the 45-second-let’s-get-this-over-with-rinse-lather-rinse bath experience.
Fast-forward to Night #3. Once again, Daddy was up to bat.
It had been a long day of work. My feet were tired, my brain hurt, the night was late and there was still much to do. Collapsed on the bed and decompressing for a minute, I began to hear my sweet toddler’s voice through the walls, “Nooooooo… Cricket! No bath tub!”
My jaw set in determination against this fear as my heart ached with pity for my babe.
I cannot live in a world where Bennett is gripped by fear. This child holds too much promise, his life could be so full! My love for him can’t take it.
If you could picture Clark Kent stripping into Superman, that’s essentially what the following ten seconds looked like. From one end of the house to the other, I began stripping jewelry, pealing off shoes and tearing off clothes, leaving a trail of garments to the bathroom where I – finally naked – swooped up my son into my arms, held him against my chest and plopped down into the bathtub with him.
Bennett held me for dear life, still afraid when looking around, but totally delighted as he looked into and studied my face.
You could see his wheels turning, Wait. You’re in the bathtub with me? Cool!
Eventually he got the nerve to loosen one arm and reach for a floating toy, still holding tightly with the other. Minutes later, as he realized he was safe and that I wasn’t going anywhere, he began to enjoy the very place that once held his mind captive.
And isn’t that just like our Father?
As I sat there in my son’s bubble bath, a wave of understanding hit me. Any good parenting moment that I have does not happen because I’m just soOoOoOoOo awesome, selfless and wonderful. No, all good things come from Him. I assure you, I’m only “good” in a relative sense. Any good parenting moment that I have – any good in me whatsoever – comes from Him, the Father, whose name is Love, who made me in His image. That was His moment and I was His instrument.
So again, isn’t that just like our Father? Don’t we get stuck in our fear? Don’t we turn crickets into impenetrable walls? Don’t we see crickets where they don’t exist and refuse to move our feet? Don’t we lose ourselves in our minds, circling the past, paralyzed by the “What Ifs”?
I know I do. And I know that the Lord has barreled toward me in those moments, the Superhero that He is, lifting me, swooping me into His arms, holding me against His chest as I slowly begin to acclimate to my surroundings and realize that I. Am. Safe. He’s got me, his daughter. And not a minute existed when He wasn’t aware of my state.
I was always safe, I just didn’t know it.
He was always there, I just forgot.
All I could see were the imaginary crickets.
The moment the pregnancy test showed positive. Imaginary crickets.
The moment Charley turned for the worst. Imaginary crickets.
The moment I had to decide if I could work for myself and start up a business. Imaginary crickets.
These are all lesser fears than the one that should stay first in my heart: The fear of being separated from Him, He who is the Beginning and the End, my God.
We’ve all heard that verse, right? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It’s sprinkled throughout Psalms and Proverbs.
Only weeks later, as I mulled over this moment, thanking the Lord again for the sweet grace He revealed in that moment, did it hit me:
Wait a second. If that’s how the Lord deals with the little stuff, the stuff that doesn’t even matter, what does He do with the BIG stuff, like, when the stakes are really high?!
And then it really hit me. He did exactly the same thing with the big stuff – eternity, our relationship and our sin that separates us from him.
There we stood, mankind, at the edge of a canyon-like state of separation from our Heavenly Father, wasted in our sin, wasted in our want to be our own gods when He, like Clark Kent stripping into Superman, came barreling into mankind’s existence saying, “I see your needs! I see that you are stuck! I see that there’s nothing you can do to save yourself! I’ve got this! Hang on! Don’t move! I’m COMING!” Instead my hallway of pantyhose and undergarments, He left a trail of splendor behind him as he humbled himself all the way to earth, in His own nakedness, yet a babe himself.
He lived as a man, never caving to temptations, never earning his own spot on the edge of that canyon that separated Him from God. No, he belonged on the other side; yet He let Himself be put to death like a common criminal so that we could all point to Him and say, “See?! See that man who suffered? He took my place so that justice would be served against my wretchedness, but grace and mercy would be imparted unto me!”
None of my other friends on death row could have traded spots with me. No matter how good their intentions, it would have been an equal trade in the eye of the courts. But Jesus? The judge never charged him with anything. He volunteered to be served an unearned punishment as a trade off for my – for our – eternal freedom.
We were stuck. There was nothing we could do. He barreled down the hallway, charging into our helpless state to save the day. Christ bridged the gap, the most fearful thing of all.
How absolutely epic.