Is This Where I Live Now?
“This is where I live now,” said the birthday boy as he collapsed onto the bench. Josiah started off his 16th birthday with a sick stomach just as he was opening his long-awaited presents.
Still trying to salvage such a momentous birthday, we headed to his favorite breakfast joint for cinnamon crunch bagels. Though he was relieved to have … um … emptied his stomach forcibly, Josiah wasn’t able to do much more than nibble on a French baquette.
Thinking a fun activity might distract him from his roiling insides, we headed to the Arlington National Cemetery. He grudgingly left the bench in the Visitor Center and trudged up the long walk to the Arlington House … only to curl up on one of the benches outside the house while we viewed the grounds.
We guided this poor shell of a man to an experience that had such a huge impact on him in years past, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Wanting to show the respect due this place, he stood, but supported his weight on a handrail while we watched the Changing of the Guard and the Wreath Ceremony.
Finally, we made it back to the van where he dropped gratefully into the seat.
Lunch proved tricky. Where could we find something Josiah’s stomach would accept? If you’re familiar with DC, you know parking is a chore. We settled on a sandwich shop, thinking it was the best option … and then parked and walked … and walked … and walked. Our birthday boy was ready to take a nap in the middle of an alley by the time we found the coveted sandwich shop (after making wrong turns over and over).
Flat coke and a plain turkey sandwich seemed to revive Josiah’s lagging energy, but when we reached the Jefferson Memorial, his energy evaporated. He collapsed on the bench declaring, “This is where I live now.”
Has your life every felt like our failed birthday celebration? Everything working against you … completely out of your control? (Did I forget to mention that it was drizzling the entire time we were at Arlington National Cemetery with a cold, driving wind the rest of the day — enough to splash two-foot waves over the embankment of the Tidal Basin?)
“This is where I live now.” I have thought this very thing in the midst of circumstances that would never change, people who would always be at odds with me, grief that threatened to drown me, fear that made it difficult to breathe.
As I sat with Josiah on that bench and rested, I assured him his 16th birthday celebration was not the epic fail it appeared to be. “How about a do-over? Let’s scrap this day and hopefully look back on it and laugh … someday. But we’ll celebrate your birthday again when you’re feeling better.”
When I’m curled up on a bench, unable to move, in my grief/fear/frustration/disappointment, God offers me a do-over.
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9
“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:21-23
No matter what has led us to our bench, God offers a do-over by His grace and mercy. This is not where we live now.