One of the best parts of my day is walking to and from the bus stop every morning and afternoon. In my dreams, I'd prefer to walk my children to school on every nice day. But in my reality, with four young children and a husband who is usually at the fire station in the mornings, walking to school is more of a special occasion for the days it works out.
So my daughter rides the bus (and loves it).
The bus stop is just a few houses down at the corner of our street, and she could definitely walk there herself. But, I walk with her. Sometimes, if all my kids are awake at 7:29AM when we have to leave the front door, we all take her. We're like our own little parade walking to the bus stop. I'm sure it's a riot for everyone driving by who is going to work...you know...those people who are actually already showered and dressed at 7:29AM...here's "that mom" in sweatpants and slippers and 3 kids still in pj's walking big sis to the bus stop. We probably look ridiculous.
But it's really a beautiful opportunity.
Evelyn holds my hand and tells me what she's excited about for the day. She thinks about who she might sit by at lunch and what they might do during science class. It's a short walk and takes like 2 minutes, but the air is fresh and my girl is anticipating her day and I can feel God's mercies for the day beginning to pour out.
And then at the bus stop, even though there are always several other kids there, she lets me give her a big hug and say a prayer of protection over her, and she tells me she loves me and she isn't embarrassed by it. In fact, I can tell she loves it.
And then every afternoon, Evelyn jumps off the bus with a huge smile and gives me a huge hug. And if my younger kids are up from their naps already (which I always really hope they aren't), then we all go to the bus stop and wait for big sis. And big sis beams when she sees us and even hugs all her siblings. And again, she isn't embarrassed...even though the whole neighborhood is jumping off the bus around us, she's not embarrassed to hug me and hold my hand as we walk home. And I do my best to shut out all the other voices around us and let that 2-minute walk be all about her and her day at school.
And I find the whole thing rather fascinating. I can see in her face that it means the whole world to see me standing at the bus stop. And if I wasn't there, of course she'd have a fine time walking home with all the neighborhood kids. In fact, she might really love walking home with all the other kids.
But I think there's something built into our hearts that wants to be waited for. I think we all desire to be anticipated. Like someone is anticipating your arrival, or anticipating your big news, or anticipating the delicious meal you just made, or anticipating whatever it is about you that makes you you. It's why every college student loves going home on the weekend and finding that Mom made their favorite meal and chocolate chip cookies. It's why teens (though they'd never admit it) actually are happy when they get home on Friday and Saturday night to find that Mom and Dad waited up for them. It meets a need in their hearts to know that someone was anticipating them. It's why its so great for those of you who go to work in the mornings to be met with the camaraderie of friends and coworkers. It's why airport scenes make us cry. It's why I Tivo our favorite shows on nights that Paul is at work and wait until the next night when he's home so we can watch them together. We love to be anticipated; to be waited for.
And the whole thing makes me think of God. And how He waits for us. Even if you feel like no one else is waiting for you, God is waiting for you. And His love is sufficient and abundant. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8). He waits for us and anticipates a relationship with us. He has boundless love for us. How it would delight his heart if we would reach out to him as unabashedly as Evelyn reaches out to me when she jumps off the bus every day. And if we would walk with him, he really would, in his infinite capability, be able to give us all the attention and care that we need, listening to all that we are bursting to say.
And as he waits for us, His face shines upon us. So when we finally turn to Him, we will find a face that is shining and delighting in us. How sad would my child be if I waited for her at the bus stop with a scowling face? But that's not the heart of a parent anticipating their child, and it's not the heart of God anticipating you either. Rather, he shines upon you.
In the famous blessing that Aaron & Moses prayed over the people of Israel in Numbers 6:24-27, they pray:
May the Lord bless you and keep you,
May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you
May the Lord look upon you with favor and give you His peace.
He anticipates you with peace and favor and radiance; not anger or dismay. He waits for us in his grace.
And that makes me want to jump into His arms with the joy and excitement of a child meeting her parent at the bus stop after school.