“Hey, mom. So, I still have to look through some stuff but my passport wasn’t where I thought it was. I was wondering if you, by any chance, saw it when you were here.”
I receive my daughter’s message at 10:34pm on December 23, less than 24 hours before she is scheduled to board a flight in Raleigh, North Carolina. A flight that will carry her to London to be with us on Christmas morning. The “when you were here” she is referring to is two months previous, when I was visiting her apartment during a three-week book tour in the US.“I don’t remember seeing it, honey,” I reply within seconds.
Two hours later, after numerous exchanges between us, I crawl into bed, mute words coming out of my mouth, curl my body into a ball and will a positive outcome with every muscle tightened in silence. As if freezing my body will control what is lost toward being found. Like the “I” in Be still and know that I am God is somehow meant for me instead of the Creator of the universe.
What if she can’t find her passport? I mentally prepare myself by serving up worst case scenarios. And God answers me in the usual way we dialog– through a tennis match of questions.
He volleys back, What if she can’t find her passport? Am I still in charge of her life?
What if she isn’t with us for the first time at Christmas?
What if she isn’t with you at Christmas? Am I still your Father who desires what is best?
What if she spends Christmas alone?
She’s not alone; I am with her.
And with that, further questions seem out of bounds when I think about them in the context of God’s love. I fall asleep and awaken to my H’s gravelly voice telling me our daughter’s passport is found.
In a car headed toward Alabama.
There are words that take our tired mind wracked with worry from wandering down a path scattered with questions to falling asleep within seconds of sinking into the pillow.
Found when all seems lost.
Arrival when hope is delayed.
Heard after lengthy silence.
Begin when doors were assumed closed to new, fresh, and attainable.
In the same way I experience temporary relief in knowing my daughter found her passport, a simple word to name a year can bring a hint of hopefulness about the future. But once peace is achieved the finality we crave quickly becomes a fleeting certainty.
God is the Master of mystery and the only thing He wants us to be certain about is this: His love abounds.
Instead of naming a year, what if we live 2017 being named by God? Beloved, Cherished, and Known. What if God is naming you Loved and accepting it is the beautiful name you give back the world?
We will never escape the tension that comes with waiting on God because mystery evokes vulnerability– a reminder that we are not in control of outcomes and outcomes do not control us.
God uses mystery in the unknowns of life for deepening relationship. We long for certainty in words that name time, and God longs for us to trust him with the minutes He gives.
Just before 7am on Christmas morning, H receives a message from my daughter, “What is your address? I can’t find it.” She’s typing on a computer from the seat on the airplane, just before landing at Heathrow in London.