Last night I couldn't sleep but I could pray. As I lay there in the dark in the wee hours of the morning, bits of Scripture began to weave through my homespun prayers, words taking the form of light and praise. Ancient words from the poet warrior King David and more recent but still old-beyond-imagining phrases from the apostle John and the prolific writer/saint/missionary/complicit murderer, Paul.
Their words became stepping stones in the stillness of the night, taking me from the cares and worries of the day - into the very presence of God where I found rest - a different rest. A rest that was so sweet I didn't want it to come to an end.
Yesterday I thought I heard our international student say, "My mom..." Since this was out of any context I could perceive, I quickly decided I had heard wrong and put my own logical spin on what he had said. Later I understood that I did hear correctly the first time and that he was referring to me. That he was calling me mom. No strings attached. Just "mom".
When I realized that, I felt a warmth shoot arrow-like through my heart and mind and instantly I wanted to do whatever I could for him. Past irritations due to cultural differences melted away because he was not just a student, he was my son. I wanted to take away any worries or problems that he might have, just as I want to do the same for our biological son.
However, I can't.
Still, I can love.
And the word "mom" definitely tapped into an unknown reservoir within my own being.
And if words - phrases of praise, terms of endearment - can have such a transforming impact on my own sinful, selfish heart, in the stifling blackness of night as well as in the still, clear light of day - then... I wonder... How much more do words from the heart touch my Heavenly Father?
I mean... when I come to him and call Him Abba with no strings attached... just praise Him, love Him, pour out His own words back to Him out of the confusion of my life - not asking Him to fix or give or do. Simply loving Him, naming Him, claiming Him and His ancient words as my own songs in the night... How does that affect Him?
Does it make His eternal heart sing and also move Him to hover over me with a fierce yet tender, protective father-love that is perfect and far from powerless? I don't know, of course.
I do know He has an unconditional agape type of love that is new every single morning, waiting for me and for all of us. But I once heard a preacher say that after studying the Bible for years, he thought that God might reserve phileo (brotherly, emotional, warm) love for those who choose to walk the closest with Him.
And I think about what James wrote in chapter 2:22-23 "... faith was perfected and the Scripture was fulfilled which says 'And Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness and he was called the friend of God.' "
To be called "mom" unexpectedly by an international student is sweet and definitely a memory I will cherish.
But to have God, the creator of the universe, whisper "friend" and "daughter" in the night seasons of my life...
And that's where I am today, that's what I'm journeying toward. And I hope you will journey with me.