Our grandbeans, their parents and a few others joined us for supper last week. The children weren’t themselves. Bad colds had knocked our great Canadian jumping beans flatter than Mexican tortillas.
In my childhood, when our parents went out in the evening, they almost always took us with them too. We attended showers, weddings and funerals. Church services, reunions and gatherings at friends’ homes. When we started yawning, my parents found a relatively flat spot near them, threw some coats down and said, “There! Now you can go to sleep.”
In church, as the grown-ups sat listening to long sermons with long words and long pauses, we stretched out on long pews, our heads on their laps. Sometimes, at friends’ homes, we curled up on chenille-covered double beds in tidy master bedrooms. Those strange places didn’t feel like home, but we trusted Mom and Dad to stay nearby. To keep us safe and take us home at the proper time.
On the way back, we slept in the car, leaning on each other. In our station wagon years, two of us swaddled under a pile of car blankets in the wagon’s “very back.” (Life was easier before car seats and mandatory seatbelts.)
We trusted Dad to get us home safe, and he always did. But the best part of those evenings came at the end. My sister Beverly reminded me about that the other day. “I remember being carried into the house,” she said. “I loved feeling Dad’s arms around me, lifting me out of the car so easily. I felt so…so…secure.”
Dad did that until we grew too big to carry. When those strong lifted us, swept us out of the car, we knew it meant we’d arrived home.
I attended a friend’s funeral today. In the months before she died, her body devastated by disease, she too slept in places other than her own bed. She leaned on those who loved her. Some of us sang to her—sometimes she sang along. She smiled sometimes. And all the while, she trusted her Heavenly Father to stay near and take her home safely.
One recent night he gently lifted her out of the body that confined her. I’m told she died with peace in her heart.
“I go to prepare a place for you…and will take you there…” Jesus said in John 14. When life has knocked you flat, and death stares you in the face, that’s a secure promise to which every believer can cling.
Carried safely home—in Father’s arms–because Jesus loves his little children..