I looked in the rearview mirror and saw my son’s eyes in the dimness of the dome light in the back of the SUV. The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach returned, I felt nauseous and like all the oxygen had left the air in my lungs. I had seen those eyes before.
“What does it all mean, Mommy? What does it all mean?”
“What does what mean, sweetheart?”
“All the bad things. Everything that went wrong today. Oh, Mommy, what does it all mean?”
“I don’t know that it means anything. I was just making a joke, honey.”
“Mommy, my tummy feels sick like it did the night Tiggy died. Like something really bad is going to happen. Mommy, something really bad is going to happen.”
“Bear, that night you knew Tiggy was hurt really bad. You saw something horrible and you knew he might not live. That’s why your tummy felt sick then. Right now you are just worried and your tummy remembers that night so it is feeling the same way. It doesn’t mean anything bad is going to happen.”
“Mommy, I’m so scared.”
“You know something? Nothing bad actually happened today. We were blessed with one good thing after another all day. It was only frustrating because our plans didn’t go the way we wanted.”
“But what about the car? And not being able to pick us up?”
“Can you imagine what would have happened to us if the idler arm had come off while we were driving on all those windy roads? If we suddenly couldn’t steer? We would have lost control and maybe had a really bad accident. Sweetie, that happening when it did might have saved our lives. And we were helped so much by strangers, we can’t really say the frustrating part was really ‘bad.'”
“And your purse?”
“It wasn’t stolen. It was stressful for a few minutes, but nothing bad happened. And honey, for all we know, God had that little boy pick up my purse to keep us at the park.”
“What do you mean?”
“That tree hadn’t been on the road for long or someone else would have moved it. What if we were held up just long enough so it wouldn’t fall on us?”
“I don’t know, but it could be.”
And the fear left his eyes as he recounted an episode of Paws and Tales where Papa Bear and his young friend endure multiple set backs that lead to them being in the right place at the right time. He was happy, chattery and went to bed without a single complaint about his tummy or how he wanted me to sleep with him.
I went to bed in a somewhat more somber mood.
My little boy trusts me. I make a careless joke at the end of a stressful day and he becomes sick with fear. I tell him God is looking over us and he rejoices. The words I speak into his life are powerful and I am not sure I am equipped for that level of responsibility.
I don’t have all the answers.
I’m not even sure how I feel about what I told him.
I’ve always had a sort of uneasy relationship with the idea of divine intervention. It isn’t really what the Bible says so much as all the problems we so faithfully commit to the Lord with the assurance that “the Lord will find a way” though they are hardly problems at all. At least not when you think about the problems a mother on the other side of the world must be facing when she decides to sell her daughter into slavery.
And there is that one moment in our story where God withheld His protective hand. Where our prayers went unanswered. Where we, for a moment, felt lost.
But mostly I think it is because in my daily walk, my life gets so cluttered with all the things I’ve thrown in my path that I lose sight of the destination. I let my eyes fall from the promise and start to behave as if this right here is all I have.
My stomach gets tied up in knots and I wonder what it all means because I forget that the worst that can happen is death and after that comes the prize.