I wish I could know what you’re thinking. I wish I could see what you see when you look at me like that. The cute little frown you shoot in my direction lets me know that you don’t want me to feed you another bite of soup. You haven’t let go of that responsibility. It feels like the window to your world is closing fast. I wish the window to your world wouldn’t close so fast. I’m crying today because no one knows where the little blue juice cups came from. I know I will need something far more important from you, and I’ll wish I could have asked you in time.
I wish other sons could know a mom who travels with her babies into the jungles of Indonesia. I wish I could see the look in your eyes when fine church people said you were crazy—a fire in your eyes that combined, ‘I’m not staying in your box’ with ‘I’m going with a crazy husband and a crazier God.’
I ran in the dark this morning—under a dark sky in the shadows of a full moon. I ran away from my friend and just kept running. Sometimes I wish I could just run away. Sometimes I wish I could see in the dark.
When the Israelites ran away from the Pharaoh, they camped in the wilderness of Sinai for a long time. They were more than curious about their fate. This curiosity intensifies in the absence of food and water: “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children with thirst?” (Exodus 17:3) I suppose it’s a fair question. We need to know where we’re going and if we’ll make it there alive. Moses climbed the mountain to meet God, and God said some really nice things. “Tell the people,” God said, “that I bore them on eagles’ wings to bring them to myself. I will come to you in a dense cloud.” (Exodus 19:4, 9)
I’ve learned from experience that God comes in a dense cloud. I want to know the details. What is our estimated time of arrival? And what are we having for supper? God simply wants to know if I’ll proceed into the fog.
Mom and Dad called from Indonesia to let us know they were okay. My dad was quick to say that the violence was the fault of both Muslims and Christians. My mom was quick to assure us that they were safe—far away from the danger we were hearing about on the news. “That’s great, Mom! Exactly how far away from the danger are you?” “Oh, we’re a good three miles away.” Chan and I just shook our heads, looking at each other with wide eyes. Missionaries are often warned with an old adage. If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water it will quickly jump to safety. But if you put the frog into a pot of cool water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog is doomed. It won’t sense the danger. I hung up the phone twenty years ago clinging to the same assurance that holds me today: my parents know the presence of the Lord, especially when the clouds are dense.
So Mom, I wish I could know what you were thinking as the cancer closed in around you. I wish I could see what you saw. Dad said you were never afraid. Even in the dark watches of the night when no one was looking. You just kept living your days as long as you had them. Your smile never left you. Your joy always filled the room. I wish there was still time to ask how you did that. I’ll probably ask you anyway. And I hope that when people see me talking to myself they will think I’m crazy.
Because I am crazy. Following you. Into that cloud.