**Thank you so much for the cards to Brandon. I think he’s going to be the most popular soldier in Iraq! I know it means so much to him that people are thinking of him during this time. Thank you!**
A few weeks ago, after Rhema’s Special Olympics gymnastics practice, I stopped to get the mail. It was 5:30 and already very dark outside. Our mailbox is located next to a fairly busy road, at the end of a long semi-circular driveway. I put the van in park, grabbed the keys out of the ignition and jumped out to get the mail. (Getting the mail was Brandon’s jobs and now that it’s mine… well, I’m doing good if I check the mail once a week.) It crossed my mind that it was risky to leave the van with the girls in it, but the mailbox was only a few steps away. We had lots of mail and it took me a few extra moments to gather it all.
As I climbed back into the van I saw that Rhema’s car seat was empty. I scanned the vehicle fast – maybe she had climbed into the back seat or the trunk? Not there. I felt sick to my stomach. “Hope, where’s Rhema???” I said desperately. My heart was pounding so loudly, I could barely hear myself speak. “Did she get out???!!!” I demanded.
“Yeah, she got out!”
After a few minutes of frantically searching the streets and calling her name, I heard her soft, happy hum. She was obscured by a huge evergreen tree, but I knew she was making her way down the other side of the driveway. I grabbed her in my arms, Rhema, and led her back to the car.
The thing I found most troubling about this particular escape is that Rhema seemed like she was on a journey of which I could never be a part. Completely oblivious to the danger or the cold, she was contentedly on her way, her eyes seeing things I could not see. She did not need me or anyone else – she was making her way, enjoying herself, her thoughts and her freedom in the dark. It seemed like if I had not stopped her, she would have just kept walking and walking and walking.
It reminded me of something I read in the book Jewel by Bret Lott. A young man tells his mother that his sister who has Down Syndrome will always need someone to take care of her, to follow her as she walks through her life. “Momma, there’s somebody going to be following her the rest of her days,” he says.
And I see myself following, chasing Rhema constantly, continuously– be it to prevent her from putting some non-edible in her mouth or getting into a mess or running into a busy street.
And our lives, hers and mine, stretch out before me.
And I will not grow weary; I will readily follow for as long as it takes. For I love her more than life.
In this Advent season, I cannot help but think of God the Father chasing after us, longing to share the journey with us. From the first page to the last, the Bible tells the story of the Lord pursuing relationship with us. But all we like sheep had gone astray… turned our backs, took our own path… got lost. So great was His desire to bring us back to Himself, He sent His son to walk our road in this world.
C.S. Lewis wrote of his encounters with this ‘Hound of Heaven’:
“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England …The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?”
Why would He choose to pursue me again and again? Me with my fickle, wandering heart and stubborn pride. How could He still want me as I am, and then bathe me in new mercies and healing forgiveness? I cannot understand why, but grace is the story of His pursuit of me.
When I think of myself chasing my daughter “across the margins of the world,” I think of the compassion of the Lord of Christmas, come down from heaven to be our Emmanuel, God with us.
He will not grow weary; He will readily follow for as long as it takes. For He loves more than life.