Our Little Blessing turned two last weekend, which is like WHOOOOOOOOOSH where did the time go and how did he get so big and talkative and hilarious and loving and a daily joy in our lives. As people do when events such as this arise, we spent time reflecting on his life and what he means to us and just why we call him our Little Blessing. It's hard sometimes, in the day-in, day-out speed of life to pause, to be appreciative and grateful, when you're running around with myriad tasks and worries. I struggle constantly with this. I have a 100 mph brain and I get lost in it.
Caleb can bring me back. Slow me down.
Do you all know the origin of the name Caleb? He is a biblical figure, famous for his trust in God. When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, he sent 12 spies into the Promised Land to scout the territory. Ten came back and said, "Yeah, it's pretty sweet over there, milk and honey and all that, but there are these big dudes--Giants, basically--and we can't take 'em, so we should probably just stay here in the desert."
I paraphrased that.
The other two spies, Caleb and Joshua, had faith in God's promise and, while verifying the presence of Giants, also said they would be no match for God's power.
When we were deciding whether or not to have a child at our somewhat advanced parental age, Emet and I prayed a lot. To try to know if this was the right thing to do, for ourselves and for the child. We believe God gave us his blessing, but he also asked for a few things in return. One of those was for Emet to contribute to the children's ministry at church, a request I believed was two-fold, both to prepare her for who was to come and also so that she shared her gifts (as a person, as a teacher) to others. So, she did exactly that. And upon hearing her story, a superior at the church asked her to record a video, a recruitment pitch, if you will.
You can watch it here.
I mean watch it now. It's relevent to the rest.
Of course, Emet is a little bit mortified by her face/voice/word choices on the video and they played it one time when we were in church, which we didn't totally expect. When it came on, she went "OHMYGOD!" but not in the reverent way you're supposed to do in church and she turned bright red, which got an even brighter shade when Pastor Dan remarked, "See ladies! If you want to get pregnant, serve in Empowered Kids!" at it's conclusion.
Our church is building a new sanctuary and ground-breaking is starting this week. Construction is taking place in what was previously the main parking lot, so, beginning this past Sunday, we had to park off-site and shuttle to campus. Caleb was very excited at the prospect of getting on a bus and was smiling ear-to-ear when we sat down in the front row, me beneath a video screen and he and Emet across the aisle. We weren't seated for more than 15 seconds when Emet's head snapped up and said, "It's me."
So it was. On the video screen, talking about Empowered Kids and how she was six months pregnant. We both got emotional right quick. And when the camera panned down to her stomach, we both said (or tried to say, in choking voice), "That's you, Caleb."
We kind of sat there dumbfounded, looking at each other.
Once we dropped Caleb off at the nursery, I said something like, "What an inspiring start to a Sunday." I was reminded (yet again, but not often enough) of our good fortune. Our happy and healthy and inquisitive boy. How God kept his promise when we came to him and asked for guidance.
We sat in the sanctuary and I pulled out the Sermon Notes, as I often do, to see what we were covering today. I could not hardly believe what I saw when I looked at it.
"Okay, God. You have our attention. What do you want to tell us."
Forty-five years after Caleb came back from his spying mission, he was given what the Lord had promised him, land in Hebron. Forty-five years, he kept his faith, even in the midst of battle, of wandering in the desert. He always said, "God will bring us into the land and we will possess it" even when all tangible evidence appeared contrary.
I know many of you reading this don't share my belief. I know many of you are also suspicious of religion, of its hypocrisy, of acts committed in God's name that are inconsistent with a Loving God. What I love about my church is that the focus is on how the Bible informs my life, my decisions, with the goal of growing into my destiny (as opposed to judging others). The Lord says he has known me since before I was born and that there is a plan for my life. To grasp that plan is frequently difficult. It is beyond my understanding and I struggle (that word again) with trying to connect with God, fostering that relationship.
Here's the rub, though. Why does God want that relationship with me (with everybody, actually, but let's just keep this all about me for a moment if we could)?
It's pretty simple. To help others.
Because once God has your heart, he uses it for good. He uses it to change lives, to mend people who are broken. With me as his instrument.
I don't know how anybody can't get behind that idea.
I fell a long way away from God. That's no secret. And I suffered because of it. I did make one good decision, however. At the bottom of it all, I came back to Him. He did not berate me. He did not point his finger and say, "You got what you deserved." He opened his arms and brought me into Him. He took away my anger and my regret and my sadness.
And then he sent people into my life to heal me. He gave me Emet and Caleb.
I listened to yesterday's message after I got over the initial shock. Listened hard. Because I knew it was for me. Pastor Dan emphasized a regular theme, to Be Quiet. To take time away from life, from my 100 mph brain, and just Be Quiet so I don't miss what I need to hear, so I can believe beyond what I can see. Calmness in the struggle.
There was negativity and danger and unbelief all around him, but he stayed tight in his heart and "finished well." Caleb was 85 years old when he finally entered Hebron. It takes that long sometimes. God always keeps his promises, but you can't really get too impatient with him, because he does it in his own time.
We promised to raise our Little Blessing to love Him. The only way to do that is to behave in a manner consistent with what He teaches us. That's what God told me yesterday.
He is probably thinking that he's told me that a hundred times before and he has, but I just wasn't quiet enough to get it or feel its full impact, so he had to get all overt on me yesterday.
And then he told me to tell you.
So I did.