Early Morning at the Manse
Click. KSJN plays softly. Click. I turn it off in three seconds. It is 6:00 a.m. I want Noël to sleep ‘til 6:30. I slip out from under the sheet and quilt and tuck them in around her again. “God, I’m tired. Help me.” I can hardly move. My eyelids are paralyzed. I can lift them with fingers. Not necessary. My blue energy boot slippers and terry cloth robe are in their usual spot on the floor by the bed. I could find them in my sleep. Ha-ha.
I’m sitting on the edge of the bed. “Maybe I should sleep in this morning. Noël can get the boys off to school. I might get sick if I don’t get more rest. I’ll be more efficient. I spent half of my “day off” at the hospital. . . . Get off of me Satan! In the name of Jesus Christ the Almighty, get off my back! God, I’m tired. Help me. . . . “They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary” (Isaiah 40:31).
The slippers and robe are on now. The night light in the bathroom spills out into the hall. I creep by the open door of the boys’ bedroom on the way to the basement. “God, thank you for my sons. O, how I love my boys! Wake them up in righteousness, Jesus.”
The basement has no heat, but one room is finished and has a carpet and a sofa and a desk. Click. I put on the three-level lamp on low. It is 6:05. The Bible is open on the couch from the day before. There is an orange pillow for my elbows. I throw the brown sweater Noël made over my head like a monk’s habit (to keep the draft from the window off). And begin.
“God, I’m tired. Help me. Please open my eyes so I can see wonders in your word (Psalm 119:18). O God. Mighty God! Maker of heaven and earth and all the galaxies of the universe. That you should lend an ear to me in this little room half-awake. That you should occupy yourself with me while millions of your people pray and all the while you hold New York and Tokyo and Paris in the palm of your hand. That you should call this tempted flesh the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). That you speak to me from off this page as personally and powerfully as though you sat here on the couch and talked.
“O God, what condescension. What unutterable mercy to attend to a little ant like me. Help me believe, O God, and feel this truth: that all my hairs are numbered (Luke 12:7). Why are you downcast, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my help and my God (Psalm 42:5).
“And now my wife, Lord. Thank you for her. Protect her from harm and from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Give her joy in the ministry with me. Waken her this morning with a song of praise in her heart and on her lips (Psalm 40:3). Give her vision for service in this neighborhood. Incline her heart to the word and not to getting gain (Psalm 119:36). Fill her with your Spirit — of wisdom and joy and righteousness. Make her a wise and happy mother. O, bind our hearts together as you bind our hearts to yours.
“And finally, my sons. Even in their sleep, Lord, turn their hearts to you. And when I wake them with your word, sow that seed in humble, open soil. And send its roots down to the inner heart and make an oak of faith. O Christ, take my sons for your servants. Obliterate rebellion from their hearts. And may they grow to godly manhood, full of love to you and love to men. Let them not love the world, nor give a hoot for things or praise (1 John 2:15–17). But may your glory be their passion day and night until the Kingdom comes.”
I meditate on Mark today, and try to see the inner meaning of the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. I think it means, Jesus is the all-sufficient one. A little is much when he is in it. You can never give so much that you have nothing left over.
The grandfather’s clock gives half the Westminster chime. It is 6:30. My heart is full. My eyes are open. My faith is alive. My joy is warm. My conscience is still. My hope is strong. I will awaken them all with love!