Tonight, Eric and I were stocking up on fruits and vegetables when I saw one of the missing students sitting at a table. Before I could fully determine how to respond, my excitement took over and nudged me across the room to ask how she had been, and what had happened, to make sure she was okay, and to encourage her to start again when, or if, she feels it's the right time. "I've disappeared before, too," I told her. "I'm just glad to see that you are well." I wished her the best as we left, and I carried her burdens on my heart, thanking God for the people He brings into my life. People to pray for. People to care for. Each and every student and person that my job introduces me to, and all of the challenges I know they are facing. Right now. Even as I write this.
As I left the grocery store, I decided that the blog I had been drafting all week--the one I planned to post tonight--would have to wait. Because I realized that so many students in my classes have been disappearing, and I have been disappearing, too.
I've been buried underneath grading.
I've been desperate for every moment with Eric.
I've been making excuses, and puzzling over cosmic riddles, and organizing, and resting.
And why is that I, that we, come to feel so guilty about all of this? As if God has a grade-book. As if he has been taking attendance, and counting up points, and evaluating me, and as if my financial aid is going to run out until I'm stuck funding this entire relationship on my own.
When we disappear, when we fail to set aside the time to remain engaged, to attend, to do our work, to reach out to Him, I imagine that God misses us, above all things. Sincerely. I imagine He thinks of us, and He remains close, and He desires for us to not necessarily "return," but to turn and face Him where He has been all along. And when we do this, there is no time for apologizing. I say this because it seemed that when I started to apologize to God, today, for setting Him aside and getting wrapped up in the frenzy of my world, that He was quick to interrupt and proclaim: Come here. I love you! Turn off that music.
I turned the dial down until it beeped, and I drove home from work listening to the hum of the Beetle.
It only took about thirty minutes until I could feel His nearness again. In the clouds ahead, I could see His face--the face of a King--emerging and descending from heaven like sun beams and rain falling from a peach and pale blue sky. His eyes were fixed on mine, and the drumming of His rain drops awakened me from complacency.
Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Absolutely meaningless without You.