January 12, 2013
It’s 6 miles from church to my driveway. Six short miles. But a few weeks ago driving home from church Emily called my name 36 times. 36 times! Numbers 18,19,20, and 21 at mile 3.2 went like this “Mommie! Mommie! Never mind. I forgot. Mommie! Nope, never mind. Mommie! I still don’t remember. ” I think she talks just to hear herself talk. Grace had her earphones on and Lauren was home sick with Paul, so it’s amazing to me that one child could call out to me 36 times in just 6 miles. I hear her voice in my sleep. Not dreaming. She comes to wake me up and says “Mommie, Mommie, can I go potty?”
Paul is out of town. Gone to a University of Texas football game with some friends, so this weekend it’s all “Mommie.” Mommie at the fair. Mommie at meals. Mommie at Target. Mommie at bath and bedtime. It will be Mommie at Chloe’s birthday party tomorrow. And Mommie at the airport. Mommie will struggle with the coffee maker in the morning. Coffee is Paul’s job, not mine. Pancakes are also Paul’s job. Java-challenged Sandie is even worse at pancakes. But tomorrow, with Paul out of town, it’s my job to make pancakes for all the middle schoolers at church. Of course, that will make me late to worship and I’ll have to sit on the back row, and we all know that never ends well.
Paul heard voices calling his name last weekend while making pancakes for Graces’s birthday sleepover. He made several dozen pancakes at 1:00AM because he knew he wouldn’t be home in the morning when the crowd woke up. Flipping chocolate chip pancakes after midnight, and his thoughts went to old “friends” telling him our daughters should be pitied for having him as a father. Those voices play over and over in his mind. I like to give those “friends” the benefit of the doubt and assume they are in a healthier place now, and if given the chance, they wouldn’t speak such curses of doom over him now, but who knows? And the truth is, they already spoke it and its what his ears heard, and what his brain believes. So at 1:00 in the morning when he is doing something wonderful, he is also fighting off lies in his head. That’s he problem with those voices. They play tricks on your mind and try to make you believe what you know is not true. I play tricks on my own mind. I’ve tricked myself into thinking I have a great singing voice. I turn up the stereo volume really, really loud in the car while I sing really, really softly. My lips are moving. My ears hear Nora Jones. Ergo, I am Nora Jones. I know it’s a lie, but I like to believe it.
I have been calling out to God so much more lately. I feel like I am always praying. 36 times in 6 miles! I don’t want my prayers to be pharisaical, checking my prayers off a list but missing the heart. I am praying for Laura every time I hear the song 10,000 Reasons. For Paul How He Loves Us. Emily Holy, Holy, Holy. Lauren It Is Well With My Soul. And Grace of course Amazing Grace. Every time I hear sirens and see flashing lights I pray for the police and firefighters and paramedics. I always pray for the Baptist Hospital helicopter. I pray for my patients, and when a patient asked my why her nose always itches in the dental office, I suggested maybe that means someone is praying for her. So now I am praying every time someone itches their nose. Between WBFJ, itchy noses, and sirens, I am praying all the time. And that’s a good thing but I don’t want it to be a chore. I don’t want it to feel like I’ll be in trouble if I don’t pray for an emergency first responder at an accident. And I don’t want to forget the power in the God who answers the prayers.
I was feeling like my prayers were just rote mumblings, ineffective. Today I was on Stratford Road, backed up in traffic. Unusual for a Saturday afternoon. I figured there must be an accident ahead and I started my prayers. I noticed a nicely dressed woman walking on the sidewalk next to my car. She seemed focused on getting somewhere, maybe Stratford Station restaurant, and since traffic was barely crawling, she and I stayed neck and neck. Then i could see the yellow lights of the tow truck and 2 damaged vehicles. As I got to the Bethesda intersection, I saw this woman open her arms and grab one of the accident victims in a tight hug and the two of them rocked back and forth. This is what the Pharisees missed. But God showed it to me. The human side of prayer. The human side of calling out. Here was a woman who heard her loved one’s voice call out, and she came immediately. Parked 2 blocks back and walked because there was no getting through traffic. It didn’t matter what the message was or how it was sent or if it was mumbling or yelling or 36 times in 6 miles. And here was the human truth behind all those prayers of mine-someone was having the worst day ever and God led me to pray for them.
Sometimes I worry God will tire of hearing me call out to Him 36 times in 6 miles. Sometimes I forget I am made in the image of Him. Sometimes I think He must be made in the image of me. He must be an impatient, imperfect parent like me. Praying for just 5 minutes alone in the bathroom. That’s ridiculous! Who has ever heard of 5 minutes alone in the bathroom? 5 minutes without someone calling for Mommie. 5 minutes without someone yelling. 5 minutes without someone knocking. 5 minutes without Emily’s fingers wiggling under the bathroom door “Mommie! Did you know the door is locked? Mommie! Open the door and I’ll help you go potty!” I forget that I am His Wow and He loves it when I yell for Him and knock for Him. And He loves my wiggly fingers.
So I know I have God’s ear as He hears my voice calling out to Him. And I know He never tires of my voice. “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24 ESV)