I stumble to her bedside as she thrashes and cries, eyes still closed but body in distress. I kneel down and rub her back. Her body relaxes, her cries die down, and while I normally make a quick exit to crawl back under my own covers, tonight is different. Tonight I linger.
Tonight I sit by her bed with my hand still outstretched over her soft pajamas, and I pray.
I pray that God would give her sweet, peaceful sleep. I pray that God would heal her body. I pray that her mind would grow, her spirit would soften, her talents develop. I pray that God would protect our family so that she might grow up nurtured and cherished. I pray that God would keep her from anymore nightmares.
I stop praying.
Because there is something about the dead of the night where the only sounds are the hum of the air conditioner and the steady rhythmic breathing of a child asleep.
Sometimes when we're still, our minds gain perspective. In the quiet, I am reminded of what is most important.
I am reminded that there is a bigger nightmare out there -- one I pray that she never experiences -- living apart from God her Creator, in a way that she was never created to live.
And I begin to pray again, differently.
I pray that she would grow to know God intimately and love Him deeply. I pray that she would grow to be a woman of gentleness and grace, changed by the grace she's received and eager to give grace to others. I pray that she would learn to submit to authority -- not just mine because it makes my life easier, but the authority of the One who created her and knows whats best. I pray that she would use her talents not for selfish gain but for the glory of God. I pray that in her life, however short or long it may be, she would receive life from the True Vine and give life to those she meets. I pray that angels and demons might revel at the majesty and power of God because of this twenty-seven pound vessel.
And I pray for me. I pray that I would let go of my petty dreams for her -- dreams for her body to be normal, her mind to be sharp, her skills to be honed, and her future to be bright. None of those dreams are bad. But I pray that I would see beyond my parental desires for my daughter, and long for the things that God desires for my daughter.
Daylight dawns as I rise from her bed. I am tired. But I am refreshed. I thank God for the nightmare which brought me to her bedside. Sometimes, it takes a nightmare to help us long for the best things.
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may...grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ ... that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)