Backyard Lessons

I wrote this a few years ago, and it's one of my favorite memories with my boys. It reveals some things that were going on in my life, and a lesson that I often reflect back on.

Luke 2:8-20

"Getting up at 2:00am is an adventure for an 11 year old. For a 32 year old, it's torture. One chilly night in Northern California, David and I bundled up our three little boys, snapped on the porch light and shuffled out into the front yard to watch a meteor shower that wouldn't be seen again for 100 years. Frosty blades of grass shimmered under the glare of the light from our house, and long quiet shadows yawned from beneath tall walnut trees as we stood with our eyes to the stars. The tiny lights above us twinkled, and the occasional flash and streak across the night sky made our little ones hop with excitement. We stood there shivering for a few minutes, watching the show. I had just begun to nudge everyone back inside when David grinned at our little troopers and said, "Let's go out into the back field!" I gave him that "WHAT?!" look as the boys cheered. David just squeezed my hand and smiled. Our house was surrounded by orchards, and our back field had just been cleared of trees, leaving behind a field of soft, upturned dirt. Recent rains had filled every hole to the brim, leaving muddy pools that were impossible for adventurous little feet not to stomp. I sighed and thought of my new carpet as I hurried back in the house to change from my slippers into my trusty pair of rubber boots. Reminding myself that I really needed to lighten up, I grabbed an armload of blankets and headed out the back door. Scraping metal footings across the concrete along the side of the house, we pulled the trampoline out into the darkness of the field, tossed the blankets over the kids and snuggled in for the show. It was so dark and quiet. Orchard rows stood tall against the deep night, their arms saluting heaven. The vast ocean of stars above us seemed to quiver with the same excitement I saw in the puffs of my children's breath. Time stood still, and my heart raced as I beheld the greatness of God's world and the smallness of my own. The darkness revealed so many stars we couldn't see from the front yard. David and I laughed at the simple conversation and cries of exclamation as another streak of green and red shot across the sky. A night of wonder, and a night of blessing. Looking back, I think life is sometimes like that night. We stand in our front yards, looking at the familiar beauty around us, and we're sure that it must be the very best that God has to offer. But sometimes He squeezes our hand and takes us to the back fields of life. To the quiet. To the darkness. Sometimes he allows countless years of hoping, tears and grief only to finally bring a dimple faced baby who was worth the wait. Someimes he weeps with us as we feel abandoned and betrayed by someone we love, and then he wipes away our tears with a steady nail-pierced hand. Sometimes he allows a national tragedy to allow a nation to look up. And one time not long ago, he allowed a young Jewish girl to give birth in the darkness far from her family so that a hurting world could see greatness in a baby's smallness. So next time you find yourself relaxing in the front yard of your life, thank God for the blessings he gives. But the next time you find yourself in the quiet, dark back field, praise Him. For He cares enough about you to reveal the wild, heart-pounding wonders of his grace and mercy. And with that surrounding you, why worry over a few muddy footprints?"

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