While you were sleeping

I teach a Bible study for young adults on Tuesdays, so I always get home late. The other night as I got in my car to head home around 9:15, I remembered a text my son sent me earlier in the evening.

“Don’t forget the popsicles.”

He was referring to Freezer Pops. Ice Pops. Otter Pops. Whatever you call them, they’re plastic wrappers filled with pure, frozen joy. My wife had bought some last week and between the four of us, my family devoured them in just a few days. Having them in the house again after all of these years was like a mini time machine in an array of bright colors, taking me back to my childhood when the land (okay the fridge) was overflowing with Otter Pops and Kool-Aid. Eating one of these treats is just like skipping, it’s impossible to do it and not smile.

We had been out since Sunday, which means we had gone a whole day plus without this fruity-ish goodness. So on my way home I stopped by two grocery stores (I wandered around the first one and couldn’t find them) and brought home two (there was a sale) 36-count bags of assorted freezer pops. It was a little after 10 p.m. when I finally arrived home.

During summer break, both of my children would have still been awake. When school’s out, with no set time to be up, “bedtime” becomes “play until we’re too tired to play anymore” time. Which is awesome. But school started back this week, so my 8-year old daughter was already asleep. After I got settled in, changed clothes, and put the Ice Pops in the freezer, I headed towards her bedroom.

She was facing away from the door, which meant I had to be a little more careful as I approached her. The floor on the other side of a child’s bed cannot be seen from the doorway, and therefore is often booby-trapped with toys, clothes, books, and other things that can break and/or make a lot of noise if stepped on. I put on my quiet feet and moved softly across the room, navigating through the mine field on the other side of the bed. I approached her, leaned in, and kissed her on her perfect little cheek. As my lips pressed into her face, all of the energy in the universe couldn’t match the power of the love transferring from me to her in that moment. It was only a couple of seconds, but it was the best two seconds of the day.

She never even knew it happened.

Two nights before I went into her room and she was laying on top of the comforter, bed still made, with only a tiny blanket on top of her. I looked at her and smiled. So fragile she is. She needs protection, from someone with a strength and fearlessness she doesn’t possess. And right then, she needed someone to put her under the covers. I’m strong enough to pick her up with one arm and re-position with the other. Not because I’m a strong person, but because she’s so small in relation to me. So with my left arm, I rolled her up close to me, like an elephant picking up a peanut. With my right arm I reached down and pulled the covers back. I placed her between the sheets and pulled them up over her shoulders. All tucked in now. She’s warm, protected, safe. Everything is alright, tonight.

In both instances, she never woke up. Never even knew what I did.  I thought about these two separate, but related situations and something occurred to me. There are things I do on a daily basis to let her know I love her. And I tell her all the time.

But there are so many ways I love her she will never even know.

I suspect this is what our Father does for us.

There are so many things He does to show His love. The way a sunset moves through our eyes and invades our soul, the taste of salt air and the sound of ocean waves, the warmth we feel from the touch of another human being. The ability to see the array of colors in a bag of ice pops and to taste the cold sweetness as you eat them. So many experiences of pleasure, of warmth, of joy, hope, peace, and love – in good times and bad.

And because he is our Father, there are so many ways He loves us we will never even know. He must look at us while we’re sleeping and feel how much we need love, protection, warmth. So fragile we are, matchsticks tied together with string in a howling rainstorm. So weak, so small in comparison to Him. So in need of a strength and fearlessness we don’t possess. God is love, the scriptures explain to us. And there is no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear. The weakness of fear can’t handle the strength of true love. It shrieks, runs, hides in a corner, overwhelmed by the Light.

If you haven’t felt the love of God in a while, don’t assume He’s not there, that He stopped loving you, that He went away. He is loving you in ways you don’t even realize, in ways you’ll never even know, in ways you’ve never been loved by anyone else.

He’s reaching down from Heaven to curl you up in His arms, to bring you comfort, to keep you warm.

He’s leaning in to kiss your face.

“So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart beats violently inside of my chest. I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves.” – John Mark McMillan

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