It’s after nine on a Saturday night. The Hubs is out second shooting at a wedding. The house is quiet and still. I stare at the walls, the screen, knowing I need to stop working. My soul needs to be still. I keep going, tidy rooms one by one, find myself rearranging things in our bedroom. I’m avoiding getting quiet in my soul, though I know that’s where I need to be, and I hear the softest cry from down the hall:

I’m thirsty…

I’m thirsty…

I tiptoe to the door, sleeping baby curled neatly in his crib, and whisper past him toward the boy on the other side of the room, a gentle:


He is quick to throw off the sheets, tip toe out of the room, us together, quietly down the hall.

Is Daddy back yet?

No, my darling, he is still going to be gone until later.

It’s bright in here.

He squints.

I watch him eagerly drink and drink — it was no ploy to sneak from bed, he was a thirsty little soul.

He hands the juice cup back to me, well quenched.

I love you, Mama.

I love you, my boy.

I’ll see you in the morning.

Okay, my boy, I’ll walk you back to bed.

My heart feels soft and sore — these are the sweet and gentle moments that cause me to take off my shoes. Hard as parenthood may be, these are the whispers that make it worth it.

I reflect afterwards and realize, I have regularly been frustrated with this child. Perhaps scolding more than savouring. I remember this moment, well over a year ago — it was just him and me. The Hubs captured him after a nap, gently resting on my shoulder, comfortably sinking into me, pregnant and full of expectation. Seems it was easier to savour moments then.

And life right now seems more out of control. A deadline looms. A dishwasher stops, seems broken, I research dishwashers for an afternoon, sighing to think about spending money for a new one, we discover the breaker had tripped and the dishwasher is fine. My to-do list is growing instead of shrinking. I put off my first prenatal appointment because it is a reminder that I’m not in control. I’m not in control of who this new child will be — boy or girl, a small baby or a big one, easy or tough, an early arrival or a late one (though I trust for perfect timing.)

A few mornings before, I learned a prayer of mine and of many wasn’t answered the way we wanted. A family said goodbye to their Dad, husband, the night before his daughter’s birthday, the day of her high school graduation. He went the night before.

My Dad calls with the news and we both cry. I hang up the phone and long for control. I try to remember how marvelous the mysteries of God are, but they seem like bitter water.

Like the Israelities who wandered in the desert, thirsty and wandering. Out of control. They found waters, called them Marah. They were bitter waters. The Israelites complained. Moses prayed. The Lord showed him a tree, he cut it down and cast it into the waters, and then the waters were sweet. {Ex. 15}

Spurgeon said:

For suppose Marah had been sweet, then, Moses had not prayed to God, and then the tree had not been cut down, and they had never known the power of God to sweeten bitter waters. It must be an awful thing to live an unafflicted life on earth. You say it must be a very delightful thing. I have no doubt it may be from some aspects; but a person who has had no sickness, how can he have a sympathetic heart? What service can he render in cheering the people of God? If you never had any trials, I should suppose, unless something very extraordinary happened, that you would become harsh, and untender; I am afraid some would grow brutal, coarse, hard of heart. Who wishes, where others have to suffer, to claim an immunity from a blessing which brings rich consolations with it, and works eternal benefits? Beloved, this is ever one thing that sweetens Marah that it afterwards bringeth forth the comfortable fruits of righteousness. Our trials are not sent to us alone and by themselves; there is a quantum suff. grace sent with them, by which they are made available as means to sanctify us, and make us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.

This is a part of the mystery revealed: God turns bitter to sweet. There is so, so much blessing in the process.

The Tree the Saviour hung on: the Cross, it is the tree that turns all the waters of life from bitter to sweet. The hope that this isn’t all there is, the best it yet to come. All who are thirsty, come.

But me — here, feeling out of control, I have not been thirsty. I have not wanted to drink. I have not wanted to taste and see God’s goodness. I might continue finding time here and there to read His Word — but I play it safe, and I don’t pray a prayer that will give Him a chance to answer. Would He tell me to relax? Would He tell me to be still? Would He tell me to trust?

I think so.

All of that would remind me that I am not in control.

Seems safer not to pray.

I hang up the phone with my Dad — that news fresh in my ears, my soul spins. I see a bug in the bathroom, and I spray it with whatever I can find on hand. Air freshener. Hair spray. Body splash. I don’t want to leave the room to find something to end this bug’s life — it might get away while I’m gone. I would not be in control.

HH comes to see how close I am to ready, it’s his turn to shower. I am crying and there is a bug in the bathtub, but it is not dead. I am not in control. Not even of this.

I think back to all this after giving a thirsty child a drink. I realize my frustration with this boy has more to do with me than I want to admit.

Sometimes I hide when I don’t like how things are going. Sometimes I curl up to avoid the reality that I’m not in control.

I hide from God and ignore how thirsty my soul is. I let the cares of this world steal my joy. I let fear about the future make me sad.

Childlike faith — being willing to trust God, to thank Him, to listen for His voice and obey His leading — this is where joy comes from. I am lacking in joy because I am lacking in Him. Not going to the only waters — and sweet, sweet waters they are, that can quench my soul-thirst.

The glorious truth rings true again: but if from there.

I’m reminded that honesty is good. I can be real with God. No matter where I am, if from there I seek Him, I’ll find Him. And there is no sense in me, the diseased, so desperately in need of Him, the Cure, to try to stay away.

Have you ever sat for a long time — hard at work, busy with something — and then suddenly realized you are very, very thirsty? And you go and get yourself a drink, and you marvel a bit at how silly it was, you sitting there not drinking when something to quench your thirst was so nearby. You drink and it is so good. So refreshing.

He has that for our souls. And even the softest cry — like a child who has long been in bed and suddenly realizes he is in need of a drink — will not go unanswered.

When I closed the door, my heart was so warm, after kissing that boy goodnight. He was thirsty. It took me a while longer to realize that I was thirsty, too.