I hung up my toothbrush, wiped my hands and opened the bathroom door, at last free to sit down and just be alone. A pale, blue figure stood forlornly outside, squinting at the light. “Abigail,” came Lydia’s sleepy voice. “I think I have a bunch of chigger bites on my back. They itch. Can you do something for me?” It’s pretty early for chiggers. I pulled her into the bathroom, slid her shirt over her head and gasped. Her little back was mottled and blistered with a nasty rash. “What did you eat today?” I demanded. “What did you do outside?” The mountain ranges were crawling up her neck and arms, across her belly and down her whole backside. Half an hour, several antihistamines, a body rub of ant-itch cream and clean clothes later, I am finally sitting down in the quiet. It’s already past ten-thirty.
This in flight fueling just doesn’t seem to work for me.
Unthought thoughts seem to pile up in my arms, like a load of firewood, needing only one thing: to be laid on Yahweh’s altar as a pleasing sacrifice to Him.
I thought I could wish Him good-morning while fixing breakfast, but others trickled in, greeting, laughing, asking questions. As soon as we’d finished breakfast, I clambered outside and wrangled our poor, dilapidated weed eater to the floor, to fill it with fuel and attempt starting it. “Homelite” I read over again and again as I futily cranked it. “Simply reliable.” Reliable would not have been my word of choice, considering the polished wood string head (Josiah’s creative craftsmanship), the shuddering blade ensemble (held together by bolts and electrical tape) or the fact that I had opened up the side and pulled out the air filter so I could manually choke the engine, while spraying in starter fluid. Finally she roared to life and managed to rattle every bone in my body as we attacked the brush crowding out the back lane. Just as I finished up, ol’ Homelite gave a shudder, parted ways with her muffler and went out sounding like a motorcycle on a respirator. But I finished the job. Barely in time to snatch a quick shower and head out the door with Nathaniel and Lauren in an attempt to find Lauren some new dresses. “You’re my favorite person to shop with,” she confided. Shopping might not be my most favoritist activity in the world, but if it’s the only one in which I surpass Nathaniel, I will seek to be the best fashion consultant/shopper helper the world has ever known. Our hurried spree came to an end in time to see us arriving “fashionably late” (so Lauren said) and Donnie’s open house. Open houses are painfully awkward creatures. I arrived, I said “hi”, I joined the volleyball game, I ate, I had snatches of numerous conversations with numerous people. Listening over a dull roar is a talent I do not possess. Making small talk is another. Spiking a volleyball is a third. But the important thing is that Donnie enjoyed the event, felt special because I was there (well, me and a few others) and proved to be a master in serving volleyball.
For the fifteen miles home, my mind reached blindly for the “alone time” I was promising myself. Because my plans are so important. Because I am so important. Home arrived with a new set of demands. Make supper. Wash dishes. Clean the house. Get ready for more company. Fix food for tomorrow. My outer shell smiled as I spooned jell-o into a pan and chopped a crop of dusty pototatoes. My inner being wept. Slicing the turkey, Mom asked for prayer about several things weighing on her mind. I slammed a butterfly net over my wandering mind and put it in a jar on the counter in front of me, hoping to hold it present to listen to her. “Lord!” I plead, “I just wanted to be alone!”
“I know the feeling.”
Made in the likeness of sinful flesh. A priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses. Often Jesus tried to creep away with His disciples, to be alone, to pray, to talk to His father, but the clamorous multitudes hunted Him out, seeking only to eat the loaves and be filled. One day He fed five thousand, spent the night in prayer, crossed the sea on foot through a storm only to be greeted on the other side by those He’d hoped to evade. At last, those same men and women who had so eagerly sought Him before, turned against Him and demanded His death. Hardly a chance to be alone that night, as He faced the most terrible agony possible—paving the way for me to come to Him.
Now that I’m finally alone in the dark and quiet, my head droops. “I’m too tired, Lord. I’m exhausted. I just need to go to sleep.”
The disciples were too tired to watch and pray by the side of their Lord. Too tired to savor those last few moments with Him before He was betrayed. Too tired to seek their comfort, solace and strength from Him—the only strength that could save them from falling into temptation, that could strengthen their willing spirits.
Some things should never be left for tomorrow.
Tomorrow never comes.
Lord, when I think sleep is better
Than to be alone with Thee,
Bind me with Thy love’s strong fetter,
That my heart, enchained will be.
I dare not sleep without first seeking
Thou, Who art my source of power.
I hear the Savior softly speaking,
“Watch and pray throughout this hour.”