When you cry yourself to sleep, you sleep hard and still, like a corpse in an open coffin. And once the exhaustion finally sets in and the mind begins to fade into the uneasiness of dreams that turn what you’d expect to be solid rest into nightmarish distress, the blood retreats from your face—your nose and ears and cheeks and forehead—they all settle into a placid paleness rivaled only by that same cadaver in the soft and silk-lined casket.
I know. I’ve seen it. So has God, which is probably why he began as He did.
“How’d you sleep last night?” He asked and then waited.
I didn’t answer. I was already annoyed. But eventually the silence was too burdensome.
“Fine,” I said, took a sip of my coffee, and then reached down to tie a shoelace that had come undone.
“You went to bed early,” He continued.
Again, I let silence govern the pace while I pretended to take a little longer with the shoelace than was required.
Sitting back up, “Yeah. Eight o’clock seems better when you have a 5:30 AM start time and you know you’re going to be up all night.”
“Jen got up with Evelyn last night,” He noted. “She let you sleep since you had an Elder meeting this morning. That was nice of her.”
I held the moment uncomfortably.
“Yeah, it was.”
“She didn’t sleep well, though,” He offered. “She moved a lot. Had some pretty bad dreams.”
“What do you expect?” I snapped. “She cried herself to sleep.”
“Well,” I said sarcastically and laid my palm bare to the sky. “Are you expecting something else from us, right now?”
“She’s worried,” He said calmly.
“You think?” I mumbled with the same sarcastic tone as before and decided to untie and then tie the other shoe.
“And so are you,” He added. “You both learned something new last night—something kind of scary.”
“Whatever,” I said with a rasp. I was tired of the conversation. I took another sip of my coffee.
God was quiet. So was I. But then I sighed my concern.
“Men with Diabetes live eight to ten years shorter life spans than normal men. Women live thirteen to fifteen years less.” It hurt to say this out loud.
“Yeah, that’s what the doctors are saying these days,” God answered.
“I don’t want this for Evelyn,” I said and went to pour what was my third cup of coffee into the sink. The pour was abrupt—a throw. “I don’t want this for her.” I noticed how the thick black liquid had swept up and onto the backsplash beyond the sink. “I don’t want this for her husband or her kids or her family.” I gritted my teeth and did all but toss my porcelain cup to the countertop sounding a hollow crack. “I don’t want this.”
“Why does this worry you?” God asked easily.
“I want her to have a long and full life—as long and as full as possible.”
“Of course you do,” God acknowledged. “You’re her dad. You want what’s best.”
Hearing Him say this, I knew exactly what He was going to say next. He’s pretty predictable.
“I’m her heavenly Father. I have a stake in that ‘best’ too.” He moved a little closer to me and nudged, “Chris, do you remember how happy you were that day you baptized her?”
I didn’t answer, but instead put my head into my hands.
“Oh, my friend, I know how much you love baptizing babies. It was the day of all days watching you baptize your own little ones. But no matter which child it is, let me tell you, there’s a joyful ruckus in heaven when those baptismal waters are flowing.”
I stared at the floor and closed my eyes. I could see her as an infant—so fragile, so small.
“You brought her to the font—to Me—to change what it means for her to have a long and full life. ‘Long’ doesn’t mean what it meant before. And ‘full’ is now altogether different.” He nudged me again, “You’re scared for the future, I know. But to be baptized into the death of my Son meets this fear in ways that make little sense to human flesh.”
“And while you’re thinking about Baptism and how she has been joined to Me,” God continued, “have you ever considered what it means that I’m omnipresent?”
I kept silent.
“I won’t get too deep here, but it not only means that I am everywhere, but also everywhen.”
He paused this time. He let His words do their work.
“Maybe this will make sense and maybe it won’t, but I’m going to tell you, anyway. First, it means that I’m always with Evelyn. She’s been made my child. My name has been placed upon her. There is nowhere she can go that I won’t pursue her. And second—and this one will be a little harder to get your head around—I’m with her right now just as I am with her in the future—right now.”
He paused again before continuing.
“Chris, I’m with her right now and in her future—right now. I’m already there. I know the number of her days as I know your’s. And I know that beyond either of these blinks, there is an endless day unhindered by time—a place where none of the clocks made by man have the power to tick—and I’m carrying both of you to that eternity.”
He was right. I couldn’t quite get my head around it. A tear began pooling. When it finally fell, I brushed it away.
“In the death of my Son, all of this was accomplished. It was given to Evelyn in her Baptism. It was given to you in your Baptism, too.”
He nudged one last time. “I can assure you,” He said taking a much more tender tone, “a life is only as long and as full as it can be with such Gospel truth in faith’s pocket. By this truth—the truth of my Son’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins—my people, so strangely, become less and less concerned in their guts with regard to how long they live in this mortal life. They have eyes to see everything, surprisingly, in a very different way.”
He paused again.
“You’re struggling to see this right now. I know this. And we’ll keep at it together, just as I promised. In the meantime, don’t try to ‘feel’ it. Just keep listening.”
I didn’t say anything. I simply grabbed my Bible and a push-button pencil, my monthly parochial report, and then headed to my morning meeting and Bible study with the Elders.
“My blessings to you, Chris,” He said as I walked out the door. “Just remember, don’t try to ‘feel’ it right now. Just listen.”
I tapped the light switch and left.