The mornings are frosty now, and I’ve decided to do the dreaded change of seasonal clothes. Juggling household duties with working part-time (haha!) has prompted procrastination.
But the chill has run straight through marrow and I can not put it off any longer. In the midst of our coat drive at work, I marvel at my own family’s abundance. Each person has two coats, and I wonder how that even happened. Most were not purchased, and my mind plays a slide show of the faces who have passed them along to us, whispering a prayer of thanks for each contributor.
Usually, I empty pockets in spring when I pack these testimony lined coats away for the season, but I must have missed one. My son’s pockets are packed to the brim, a museum collection, a time capsule of sorts. First I pull out a pay stub from his full time position at the church where he uses his creativity and gifts for the glory of God. Suddenly I am overwhelmed knowing that so many young people are unemployed after college, and here he is, employed in his field, while still attending college. Then I pull out a pack of his favorite gum, hardened with age. I realize that my care for him in this way is on borrowed time, and someday it will be his responsibility, or the responsibility of a wife ready to be named later. I pause a moment to pray for her, whomever she is.
But then I find something that takes my breath away. My chest tightens and I feel the wind knocked out of me. For I have found something that every Christian mother wants to find in her teenaged son’s pocket. I know this because as the mother of three I have found other things in pockets. Things that left me breathless for different not-so-happy reasons. I fall to my knees in gratitude, for I have found a pocket full of Gospel tracks. This shy, quiet, behind-the-scenes young man pushes through himself in order to love God and others. His life teaches me so much. Some people are secretive about doing wrong…I continually find that he secretly does right. I never discover this from his own lips, always from the lips of others or in this case what he has left in his pockets. And it’s not about whether a tract is an effective tool for the lost, it’s about whether it’s an effective tool for this young man. A tool whereby he proves to himself and his world that he belongs to Him, and that this isn’t a game we are playing but it is in fact more real than what we call reality. In a world where we escape into the unreal lives of others and call it a “reality” tv show, my son, the one who loves to play video games for hours has remembered what is really real.
I cry out for mercy for this son, this God-child, that he would continue on this path, and never be distracted by the cares of this world, his peers, but would always hold his hunger for God-things at the core of his being. Because I’ve learned from my own life that even the ability to endure to the end is not my own, but is given by Him. Humbled I realize how busy with my own life I have become. I don’t pray for my children enough. I never could there’s so much to pray for! I get all busy and wrapped up with today, and if I do pray for them, I usually pray about what I’m worried about rather than what I am thankful for.
But this package stuffed in coat pocket has reminded me of all that I can be grateful for. Concrete basement floor has become holy ground, because I have built an altar of thanksgiving right where I am. I am resolved to pray not only for the prodigal, but also for the faithful, because I remember that Satan is just as hard after those trying to do the right thing as he is those who are doing their own thing. Maybe even more.
Hugging the coat the way I used to hold this man of God when he was little, I weep and give thanks.