The Nighttime Shelf

quinsey-sablan-13806

When my daughters were young I used to have the privilege of tucking them safely into their beds each night. Bedtime stories and prayers, — special moments for this mom’s heart. It was during this time that they would share with me what was troubling them. Tired from the day’s demands, I listened intently to the cries of their hearts, and then encouraged them to take their cares and lay them on the “nighttime shelf.”

The nighttime shelf was a safe place. Even a bit magical. While it’s only visible with the eyes of your imagination, — I assure you it’s very real. Sturdy and steady, and always up for the job, of holding what troubled one’s tender heart at night. In fact, it seemed to take special delight in helping my girl’s unload their burdens. Allowing them to lay aside what troubled them — and rest….

The beauty of the nighttime shelf is that most always, when morning came, the worries from the night before were no longer there. On the occasion that the troubles were still sitting upon the shelf, they had magically become smaller and less troubling.

The nighttime shelf has weathered the storms of life and come out the other side with little to no scars. It remains steady, strong, and able to shelve the weightiest of concerns. It’s never been intimidated or alarmed in any fashion. In fact, I’m convinced it’s made of an indestructible substance.

While my children are now grown, and I no longer tuck them into their beds at night, — I do however continue to cover them with my prayers. As for the nighttime shelf, it remains a constant and is ever ready to shelve any care we give it.

I’m reminded of a story Corrie Ten Boom shares in her book The Hiding Place –

“He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his trasveling case off the floor and set it on the floor. Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
It’s too heavy,” I said. Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

jesse-gardner-39987.jpg

I take comfort in knowing my heavenly Father understands the weight my shoulders can bear in the torrents of life. He is my nighttime shelf.

 

 

Serenity Prayer

Rocky Mountains
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.
The serenity prayer was written by the American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971), an American theologian.

The truths in the serenity prayer are as applicable today as they were when it was written. In a world filled to the brim with uncertainty; God’s grace and serenity are as essential as the air we breathe.

Serenity, courage, and wisdom.

Serenity — calm, untroubled, no worries, without stress, or turbulence.

Courage — the ability and grace to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain, without drowning or being overcome by fear, or being detoured from a chosen course of action.

Wisdom — the ability to make sensible decisions and judgments based on personal knowledge and experience.

The Lost Son

     Aviary Photo_131073225320936741

Lovers of prodigals, — you never walk alone.

     The man did as he had so many mornings, — stealing away to a quiet place, outside the walls of his home. He slowly made his way to a table and chairs positioned in a shady corner of his courtyard. Here he found one of his favorite spots. The morning breeze always carried with it the air of hope. It was in the solace of this place he often began his day. Something about this hour, and the beauty of his surroundings, served as a perfect beginning to each day. It was his private space — a serene place. It was here that he often came to make peace with the emotions, and realities, that fought for dominion of his soul.  A space he had carved out for personal reflection and quite trust. Here he gave himself permission to slowly sip and enjoy a cup of tea. Alone with his thoughts — or so he thought. The truth is he was never truly alone. Nothing illustrated this more than the sounds of hawkers selling their wares in the streets, and the occasional braying of donkeys. The village was awake, and alive, — and a new day had begun. His village not unlike the others in the Middle East woke with the sounds of life. 

Detail-Return-of-the-ProdigalSon-by-Rembrandt

Rembrandts rendition of the return of the prodigal son.

     His thoughts wandered as he listened to the voices of children playing in the streets. The sounds of their boisterous and carefree moments brought him both joy and pain. He recalled the days when it was the voices of his children that could be heard outside the walls of their home.  Those were good days. He longed to hear their voices. He allowed himself a few brief moments to silently acknowledge to himself, and his God, — the pain he valiantly carried, but, only for a moment. His accute and chronic pain, forced him to not linger long in this area of his heart — he only allowed himself brief periods of time in this place.  He feared the power of the pain that lay just beneath the surface of his soul; it’s implications far too grave.      

     This man had never imagined he would be in this place. He could not tell you how many sleepless nights had passed as he searched for answers.  What had they done wrong? Worse was the moments, hours, and days, when they longed to know where their son was. Wrestling with his imagination was exhausting. Was he safe? Was he on the street? Was he alive? He carried a chronic heartache with him daily. It is in those times that he dare not even verbalize the scenes, and scenarios, that plagued his mind. He would wish this journey on not another soul.  

     He had certainly heard from many solicited and unsolicited voices as he traveled this road of pain. He was not ignorant to the murmurs spoken both privately and publicly. He heard the whispers and was aware of the unspoken opinions displayed in their eyes. He heard their questions. He too had pondered many of them himself.  Gossip, rumors, and suspicions were not unnoticed. Their residue — an undeniable presence they would learn to live with. They had however, learned to walk through the thick fog of shame with strength, and dignity.   

     The man fully understood the ramifications of a son’s actions in a culture based on honor and shame. He knew his son’s choices would surely blanket his house with shame for many years to come. Regardless, he never wavered in his extravagant love for his son. A flame of love and hope burned eternal within his heart — in the very place that only his son could fill.  

     He knew his son was what some term a “strong willed” child. He recalled the day of his son’s birth. A son brought such honor to his home. He had big dreams for this child of his. If he were honest with himself — he still did.  

     As he allowed himself to be carried away with a multitude of memories he was unaware of those who surrounded him — yet were unseen. The King had given strict orders to those who were assigned to protect this man’s household. The King and His Son looked upon the man and his family with extravagant love. The Son could often be heard talking to the Father on behalf of their beloved sons. They made sure that the man had ample strength to carry him moment by moment. You see the King understood with vivid clarity the weight of this pain residing in the heart of the man. In fact the King was intimately acquainted with this kind of loss. This is why He never allowed him to walk alone.

Lover of prodigal sons and daughters — you are not alone. There is hope. The end of the story has yet to be written.

22-24 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time. Luke 15:22 – 27