It’s nearly dusk and I’m navigating an unfamiliar and winding rural road with the help of my GPS when my youngest inquires, “When will the bats come out?” For a split second I marvel at how his new mind and my older one are in such different places as we look at the same stretch of road. I answer – “I don’t know. Soon.” Will this answer suffice? It doesn’t satisfy me….
He and I have not discussed bats since a summer evening several weeks back, when we watched them flit among the trees behind our home. Come to think of it, the sky looked much like this one. Perhaps that’s why he thought of this subject? But who knows with 4-year olds? Our conversation is short and covers the few basic facts we both know about bats. They like to eat bugs. This is helpful to us humans. They sleep during the day and come out at night. Together he and I practice the big word – “nocturnal.” When I try to explain echolocation, even in simple, simple terms, I just stop. Eleven years of motherhood down so far, and I know that his ears are turning deaf as he spots horses in a pasture rolling by. The road is getting darker. I need to concentrate. And besides, now I can reflect on the good things that even darkness can offer.
In this fallen world of ours, where suffering of all kinds is around us every day, it can be so easy to become discouraged. As I wrote yesterday, it’s been a sad month. It has included the deaths of three women, two in my family. And each one has left behind people I want to support through encouragement, prayer, and whatever else I can give. My faith keeps me from despair, because I don’t worry about what God is doing or why these things happen. I love the tapestry analogy so many have used: this life is like the bottom of a tapestry – a jumbled, tangle of knots and string, but when we can look at the other side, we’ll understand and see it was a small section of His masterpiece.
Nevertheless, I’m still asking the worldly question, “What can I do?” Emphasis on me. I still feel like somehow I need to do more. I want a directive – a clear plan on how to help. And I’ve been surprised by the depth of my fatigue because, geographically, none of the family and friends I have been concerned about supporting live close to me. Maybe you have this same problem? Self-centeredness? The feeling that although you trust God, you should still DO something?
So, in my current darkness, God sent me a question about bats to contemplate. Bats are His creatures, too, of course. Ugly-beautiful things that help keep the ecosystem in balance by doing what they were designed by God to do. They find their nourishment to sustain them by listening to echoes….which may be loud to them….but are hardly above whispers to us. I too am an ugly-beautiful thing. A sinner washed clean and made new by the blood of the Lamb. I can best do my part for His kingdom by doing what he has designed me to do. Follow Him. This requires listening. And listening again. And again and again to whispers and echoes of whispers, repeated again and again, in scripture and in the depths of my heart, when I am still enough to hear His mighty voice.