4 AM is dark. When I awoke this morning I looked all over the room. I did not intend on waking up this early. But my aging body causes me to rise in the middle of the night often. In the past couple of months I’ve learned the habit of going to the Scriptures. And I go to them the way a drowning man moves toward anything that floats. This morning I did not have to go far. Thankfully. The poetry of the Psalmist bubbled up right in front of me.

“…the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life…”

Those words were enough. For if the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life, than surely it is better than anything in life. And anything I do not have. Cannot afford. The steadfast love of the Lord is better than any situation I can imagine is better than the one I find myself in. I know I am missing out on much and that knowledge tightened like a fist around my heart. But the promise of the steadfast love of the Lord was loosening the grip.

I did not sleep much more following this line of thought but it allowed me to take a breath of fresh air the way a once drowning man breathes when he can rest his arms and legs on a floating raft. An hour later I figured I should get up. I made the coffee and sat in the dark with prayers more yawned than spoken. And then I read from Barnes’ The Pastor As Minor Poet – 

“Anyone who finds more of the steadfast love of God from which we are never separated has found something far greater than that which is missing…And it is for that grace that we are most grateful.”

Frederick Buechner has repeatedly suggested that we should be listening to our life. The logic makes sense, if God is sovereign over all events, even the small ones, then we should be able to hear him in those events. Sure, we should place what we think we are hearing up against Scripture, in concert with even. But the happenings of our life have a voice. Even more so, we should listen to other believers, those who have the Holy Spirit and are part of the Body of Christ. 

This morning I listened. 

I feel limited. Like governors have been put on me, I cannot go beyond this particular situation. I am not able to gather more funds. I am not able to change jobs. I am not able to go back to pastoring. None of this yet. And the overwhelming sensation is one of missing out. Something is missing. Something that I think will give me and my family a better life is missing.

And in the just-before-dawn dark of the morning with the moon like a celestial bulb hanging in the naked branches and all the glow at my feet, I hear, “the steadfast love of the Lord is better than whatever you are missing out on…whatever you think will give you a better life. The steadfast love of the Lord is better what you wish to solve your problems. All that is limiting you is a grace you could not have otherwise. Apart from the lack you would not see the steadfastness of his love. The steadfast love of the Lord is seen clearly in the soft neon glow of check engine lights.”

And I believed it.