Last night it happened again. She came in the night, shivering, and crawled in between us. She curled her body into mine and whispered her cold. In the dim light of our room, I saw Brian’s head lift off the pillow for a moment. I reached across sweet Bella who was already in her dreams again, and I found his hand, and we gripped each other with our daughter in between. Her head fell to my shoulder, and I breathed in the scent of her and tried to stop tears from falling. This is where I want to be. Cozy and snuggled and warm and safe.
In her book, The Hardest Peace, Kara Tippets describes it perfectly what she experiences with her own daughter… what I feel when Bella curls up with us in the night.
“But all she knows is the warmth of my touch, here, today and the kindness that greets her in her living…What she longs for is my closeness, my touch, my kindness to meet her each cold evening when she sneaks quietly into my bed to be near me.
She no longer asks for entrance next to me in the little hours of the night. She quietly enters by my feet and finds the warm curve in my back and returns to the comfort of her dreams next to her mama. Years will give her understanding like they gave me, but today, sitting next to my love is enough. The other day she proclaimed that she never wanted to leave my side, that I was always the warmth she liked best. I said nothing, only snuggled closer with a hope for more days. More and more days of loving her. I want her to look back and see herself a daughter of love.”
Yes, this is where I want to be.
Cozy and snuggled and warm and safe.
Life doesn’t feel very safe right now.
And as Satan comes in the night (I call 4:00 a.m. my “witching hour”) and whispers lies, the warmth and the safety dissipate into coldness and wrestling and fighting the lies that have stemmed from years ago…from growing up in a church that said that any suffering was punishment.
And Satan screams at me in the night…
“See, you have always loved beauty, beautiful things, fashion, trends… you have lost your beauty and your femininity is so scarred and marred. This is the punishment you deserve.”
“How many times do you make singing about yourself, your gifts, your talent, how you sound, instead of really worshiping? Now your voice is gone. This is the punishment you deserve.”
“See, you have made an idol of your family. You love being a mom and a wife more than you love anything else including God. They will lose their mom and wife. This is the punishment you deserve.”
“You are a Pharisee. You write this blog more for what people think of you than to bring honor to God. See, see how little you’ve written these past couple years… Your words have been stolen from you. This is the punishment you deserve.”
Oh, friends. I know this is not so. I know God doesn’t work this way. This is gospel-less thinking.
I remember sitting with our church counselor years ago, and asking him about suffering as punishment, trying to discern truth from the lies of my past. John looked outside at my children, ages five, three and one.
Do you love those children?
Oh, yes, So much it aches.
Did they sin this morning? Disobey you? Not listen to you?
Oh, yes. They do it every day.
Pick one for what
Pick one to give cancer to as punishment.
Oh. my. stars. I would never…!
Exactly. And God’s love for you is so much greater than yours could ever be for your children.
Y’all, I need to tell myself this every single day. That the Gospel says my sins are covered. That Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect life and died a sinner’s death to pay for my sins. All of them. He has borne my punishment. He has given me His righteousness.
That. Is the Gospel.
Years ago, Brian and I sang a duet of one of my favorite hymn re-writes during church, Red Mountain Music’s “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” I was humming it today, letting the words pour over me.
“And sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.”
All their guilty stains.
All of them.
Not some of them. Not just the ones they remember to confess. Not just the ones they’ve “conquered”.
Every single stain of sin is gone because of Christ.
He bore the punishment.
That. Is the Gospel.
As I enter that PET scan on Tuesday, this will be the song echoing through my mind…
“E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.”
My faith is small… not even a mustard seed it seems these days. But it sees the stream.
That is the Gospel.
That is the truth.
That is what I must cling to when the fiery darts sting, when fear paralyzes.
And I curl into this truth as Bella girl curls into us at night.
And today I find safety and warmth and peace.
It shall be till I die.
I am a daughter of love.