I had just laid my son down for bed when the storm started.
This was no ordinary storm. This was a good, old-fashioned, Arkansas spring storm. A wild beast of a thing that could turn into a tornado at any moment. Thunder, lightning, window-rattling wind, hail and flickering lights. The kind of storm where meteorologists encourage the television viewers to tie down their trampolines. And maybe their cars too.
I passed by Nate’s bedroom door and could tell he was sleeping peacefully thus far, judging by his gentle snores, despite the chaos outside. Lightning flashed beyond his window, illuminating the chubby curve of his cheeks. Still, I hesitated to leave him alone. This storm wasn’t like any other. This was a wild thing of violence. One big boom of thunder, and I knew my little guy could be awake, crying in fear.
Nate has a trundle bed, so after a moment of indecision, I pulled out the lower mattress and made myself comfortable on the tiny rectangle of space. Well, as comfortable as I could be, anyway. After a few moments, my back and knees began to ache. Was it silly of me to be hanging out in his room? The kid was oblivious the thunderclaps shaking the house. I should just go to my own bed, enjoy my own blessedly soft pillow and adequately long mattress. I was worrying over nothing.
A gust of wind shrieked overhead. Silver flashed and a crack of thunder split the sky. Nate jerked in his sleep and rolled over. His eyes never opened, but his little mouth murmured, “Mama?”.
And then it happened.
He reached over the edge of the mattress and searched for my hand, his little eyes still buttoned up tight in sleep. Groping, seeking. The moment his chubby fingers brushed mine, he gripped my hand and released a tight sigh.
“Mama,” he breathed before succumbing back into Never Never land.
He had no idea I was sleeping below him. I’ve never done so before, except on the rare occasions he was deeply ill. He never once opened his eyes nor saw my face. But boy, was I glad I chose to stay close that night.
I could have gone to my own bed. I still would have been in the house. Still close by, ready to come if he called, but there was something special in that moment, being there and anticipating his need before he even realized he had one, that was worth the momentary discomfort of achy knees and a stiff back. In the moment between wakefulness and sleep, when scary noises startled him, he sought me. And I was waiting for him. I was there.
How much greater is the love of our Father.
After all, I’m just a messed up mom. I’m a mom who, even on my best days, still tends to yell when I want to play it cool, let my emotions spiral after telling my kids how to trust God, eats Nutella out of the jar when I intend to munch on carrot sticks, and act more like Frankie Heck than June Cleaver.
My point is, if a goof-up like me can accidentally manage to love, albeit imperfectly, how much greater is God’s love for His kids? He is always with His children, always near, always close and listening, but during those storms that are extra violent…the bone-rattling, knee-knocking, foundation-shaking tempests, He doesn’t just ‘stay in the house’ with us. He watches over us as we sleep. He anticipates the need before we know we have one. He’s the hand waiting to grasp our fingers as we reach out, searching for any sign of the familiar in a sea of terrifying darkness.
And He’s the one Who whispers in our ear as we drift back off into the peaceful arms of sleep. “Fear not, for I AM with you…”
Storms come and go but the love of the Father remains.
Sleep on. He’s waiting and watching. All is well.