Lois and I flew to the beautiful north coast of Oregon for a vacation. We are sleeping late and napping and enjoying long conversations with people we love and we are telling stories and we are listening to our grandchildren tell stories. We are taking drives along the ocean. We are exploring shops and eating regional food. We are celebrating our freedoms in America and praying for our nation to turn back to the God who has so blessed her.
Here is a little story from our time here. There will be more.
When Little Things Keep You Awake at Night
I was crying in my bed one night as a young boy. Mom called from the base of the steps.
“Why are you crying, Kenny?”
“I lost my baseball.”
Dad and I would go out most nights and play catch in the back yard of your little parsonage home in the tiny village of Logansville, Ohio.
“I lost my baseball.”
I now know that it was the intimacy and humanity of standing on a summer evening under the shelter of shady maple in the cool of the day with my dad that my soul craved with a craving I would not understand for many years.
That ball was important to me. I only had one. Without the ball there would be no playing catch in the evening. My little heart would miss that ritual connection with the man who meant most to me in the world.
I could never say that. I could only feel a great grief at the loss of the ball.
We lived in a tiny village across the street from the block that was the very center of the town and it was at the time occupied by a junk yard. It was filled with old cars. My uncle Jim had come over. He hit the ball out of the yard. It went under the cars somewhere. He jumped the fence and looked for it. They called us in to eat. It grew dark. I was sent to bed.
“Come down here, Kenny.” Mom softly said.
We sat together at the foot of the stairs.
“I’m sure we can find the ball in the morning.”
“We can’t. We already looked and we couldn’t fin it.”
Mom answered, “The Lord knows where it is. Let’s ask Him. Let’s pray.”
“Can we pray about a baseball? It seems like such a little thing.”
My mom answered me with a truth that has been embedded in my soul for all these years and I have remembered it hundred of times when worry robbed me of sleep.
“Kenny, listen to me. If it is big enough to keep you awake at night it is big enough to pray about.”
We are spending a blessed week of vacation with our daughter and her little family in her home on the beautiful west coast of Oregon. They live near the little coastal village of Gearhart. The nearest city of any size is Astoria, which sits on a peninsula of land that juts out into the mouth of the mighty Columbia River and Young’s Bay. Young’s bay is formed from the confluence of Young’s River and the Lewis and Clark.
To get to town you have to travel a long causeway over Young’s Bay. Ahead to the north and west is the Astoria bridge and causeway where iconic highway 101 runs from Astoria into Washington State and on up the Pacific coast. To the north and east the town of Astoria is picturesque. Its homes are built steep hills overlooking the water.
It is a place rich in history and natural beauty in every direction. This is where two of our grandchildren are growing up. A little boy that looks like his daddy and a little girl who is the exact image of her mother at that age. They live in a nice home in a beautiful place and they have all they need. They are cherished and they have a good life. They are deeply loved and protected and they live in one of the most beautiful regions on earth. They don’t have any way of knowing that they have been sheltered from many hardships, but when I think of them and watch them play, when I see little Bella Allene out on the swing, the absolute apple of her daddy’s eye, when I see wee Aiden Redemption taking batting practice with his daddy or circle the cul-de-sac on his bike, my heart aches a little.
They don’t yet know how dark and difficult the world can be, even for privileged children who live in the one of the most beautiful regions of the greatest nation on earth. They are in for some challenges there will be dark turns in the road ahead. They will not escape this life without hardship and injury. They will have many good people in their lives who sincerely care for them, but there are evil, selfish, misguided, godless people in this world and they will have to encounter them. They will grow up in a nation that is turning away from God and from his law. There is no doubt that they will have times when their burdens will keep them awake at night.
So out by the fire I tell Aiden the story of my lost baseball and my mother’s counsel to me in the night when my heart was burdened. “If is is big enough to keep you awake at night, it is big enough to pray about.” Later, when we put him to bed I review the story. He remembers all the concrete parts of the story, all the moving parts, but I need to remind him of the abstract moral of the story, the timeless truth that will go with him when his mommy isn’t in the next room fixing him a fragrant meal and his Dad isn’t there to listen to his stories.
“If it is big enough to keep you awake at night, it is big enough to pray about.”
Friday we will fly back to Michigan, and they will grow up fast changing every day, learning new things, having new experiences, meeting new people, making their way in life, facing challenges and hardships. At night when we lie down in the upstairs of our farmhouse our hearts will be burdened for them. Sometimes we will smile, sometimes we will cry, but we will always pray. We will always pray.
The Salty Cove | Seaside/Gearhart, Oregon