Daddy’s Eyes in the Morning

There’s something special about becoming parent to a baby.

Well, ok, there’s a whole book of things you cannot anticipate. Some of them are at least predictable. There’s the mombie and dadbie syndromes where you wander around the house moaning incoherently because you haven’t slept since bringing your bundle of joy and weird sounds into the world.

There’s also the terror at realizing you have to teach this little human how to eat. At one point in time, you wonder how your mother and father ever miraculously potty trained you.

There is an otherworldly new thing, though, if you are of the sleep training philosophy when you wake up a sleeping baby. Now, if you aren’t into sleep training, you do you. I’m just saying, we’re four kids into this thing and we’ve lucked out having four kids without significant sleeping problems. But at one point in time, luck has nothing to do with all four kids sleeping through the night before three months old.

Separate debate.

Point is, when you wake up a sleeping baby, there is no attention span focusing drug as powerful as the little quaking bundle of life you have just stirred. Waking is almost a universal shock to a little baby. They sleep so content, their repertoire of fears so small that there really is no nightmare fuel. They sleep in whatever position you have placed them, plus some stretching or scrunching. You reach your hands to envelop them and the moment your touch sets off sensors, the twitching starts.

They are so sensitive. They begin to cry almost immediately because they don’t know what’s going on. And we lift them up and snuggle them in close. They come close to your eyes and you do your best to calm the nerves down so they can be content in your arms the way they were content in their sleep.

It is in that embrace that a baby first learns dependence and trust.

Normally, right after that embrace, the clammy wet diaper gets changed. Soft clothes get wrestled on. Then either by the body or the bottle, comforting food is offered. The feeding of a baby is so calming experience that I have fallen asleep bottle feeding a baby before. They make drinking and breathing sounds and are content and safe.

What you cannot anticipate is when your face and not the food becomes the source of comfort. Your face can quite simply stop a tantrum. Your voice with it in tandem can often stop the cries from a painful offense.

A chaplain friend once recommended a band to me after his service was finished at a Navy base in Hawaii. I always love hearing about the less than mainstream bands (read that as “not Hillsong, bethel, Jesus Culture, Chris Tomlin, Third Day, or Casting Crowns”) that my friends listen to for inspiration.

On Sundays, my drive from the Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel to my house was about thirty minutes (forty when I was driving behind the haoles in convertibles), so I liked to listen to whatever could capture my attention during the drive.

So I searched for, and found, I Am They. First of all, great name. Like the name of this blog, it suggests a slight distaste for the habit people have of “othering” people. When I find people’s official YouTube videos, I always try to listen to the songs that they and their team put out as the top of the list one you should listen to. It usually has an actual video and a few official lyric videos. Their first one was “From the Day.”

The worship leader in me was ecstatic because it is an uptempo, positive, mostly major key song. Those are a wonderful rarity in Christian music and you look for them at every turn because you need to start the service off with something light and up. If you don’t, people are too heavy to engage in the worship. You also give the impression that only heavily depressed people should be coming to church.

“From the Day” good.

And because I’m a responsible driver, I let the app cycle through to the next song on the album. What I got had me restarting the song for the rest of my drive home.

Wake me up from my slumber, O God,
Take these shaking hands and hold them still. [1]

How arresting a beginning to so tender a music. In this, I saw the development of the idea of God as Abba. Now I’m not a big fan of overdoing the intimate relationship we have with God because it often comes at the expense of the recognition of his absolute power and authority. We turn the omnipotent Creator of the universe into a safety blanket wrapped in bubble tape.

But here, I find a song that, like my newborn son, states the want and need of the comfort when we wake from dreams to a harsh reality. Even nearly four decades removed from my own infancy, I still start awake from a difficult sleep with the shakes. If it has been particularly dramatic, I have help waking from my bride. If my terror has been more private, it is simply the breath I take in the real world that settles me into knowing that whatever imagined horrors of my nightscape have not followed me.

But there are other realities to which I occasionally wake that are not what I wanted to confront. I have a difficult time cruising through social media. Our society is so fully fractured across ideological lines. Our world is full of chaos and unhappiness. Those are the general realities I find hard to see in waking.

Another was while I was sanding a barn door the other day and read a text about how we were having a hard time securing a general practitioner for my children because the ones we liked and were somewhat close were all tapped out on new patients or new patients with our type of insurance. I looked down at the work of my hands and despised it because it was not providing what it needed to provide.

It is in those moments that I need my very real fears to be stilled by the One who brings me comfort and has done so ever since before I knew He was there.

Wake me up from my slumber, O God,
Lift my eyes to Yours, where my help comes from.

All of my children have had to learn to trust approved strangers. They will go into the arms of family or friends and stare at their faces, looking for signs of trust. When they are completely unfamiliar, they look around and find my face or my wife’s face. And one look from us can give them courage to go back to learn a new person’s face.

In my Father’s face, the one that has come through storm cloud, adversity, depression, deprivation, joy, abundance, adulation, and salvation, is the strength I need to survive a new experience with joy and hope intact.

It is important to note that the Psalm this song tangentially connects with is often misunderstood in quotation, thanks to the KJV. It is supposed to express the idea that I lift my eyes to the high places where the heathens all worship their gods, but where, rhetorically asked, does my help originate. It then answers that my help does not come from up. It comes from God.

Over and over again,
Your love and Your mercy begin,
No matter how far, You find me where I am.

The newness of the day and the newness of need brought front and center into the life of a man who leads a family abundant with life and need met in the abundance of God’s great love is the satisfaction of the very relationship of Abba.

It’s calling God, “daddy.”

It’s because we are, at the essence of our need, very basic. Our eloquence fails in our need and His provision. It is in silence and satisfaction that He demonstrates His great love and how perfectly we find our purpose in life met in His provision. And we see our purpose perfected in the expression that satisfaction generates.

Sometimes it’s a Mozart symphony.

Sometimes it’s a close and quiet moment with Abba, waking to a reality we did not anticipate, our quaking stilled by His steadiness, our fears quieted by His loving gaze.

In my suffering and
In my weakness and
When from You I ran,
You find me. You find me.
In the dark of sin,
When I’m there again,
You find me. You find me.

1. Jonathan Smith, Matthew Hein, Stephanie Kulla, and Adam Palmer, “Over and Over Again,” I Am They, 2012, Essential Music Publishing.

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