Footsteps in the night. It was this last Friday night at 1:30 a.m. Glenn had locked all the doors tightly before we retired. Something was terribly wrong. The footsteps were a bit muffled, but they were clearly the sound of a human intruder.
My heart skipped a beat as I turned to Glenn and quietly said “What WAS that?” He was already half-way over to the drawer where the pistol is kept. Rushing back over to the bedside to throw on more clothes (after all, you don’t want to be immodest when you appear before the thug who is probably going to kill you), he said, in a voice that signaled his rush of adrenalin, “It sounds an awful lot like footsteps. And it did…and it was still happening…and sometimes it sounded as if they were in the kitchen, right beside our bedroom door, which was already slightly ajar.
“Yes it does,” I replied, still in disbelief. I had never been afraid in this house. But this was NOT our normal autumn squirrel in the attic.
Glenn stole over to the bedroom door, and standing behind it, gun in hand, he peeked out into the kitchen. Someone was out there. Now there was no denying it. Moving shadows, shuffling, the kitchen door ajar. I heard the metal-to-metal sound as my husband pulled back the slide and threw a round into the chamber. I could not believe this was happening. The bullet was in the barrel.
In a stunned moment of panic, I said “Don’t shoot Gideon!” I mean, what IF one of those little boys who are temporarily living in our back-yard cabin had been sleep-walking or even pranking someone and had wandered into the house in the middle of the night?
Then it all happened. I was lying there replaying the last moments we had spent together through the day and thinking, “This could be for real. My husband may die. I will have to find some way to make it without him for a time. But I will see him again. ”
Glenn stepped over the threshold into the kitchen, a moment of shuffling as the gun was being raised and the perpetrator looked him in the eye. My husband’s shout was piercing. “Caleb!”…It’s you!”
Moments later, after the “Mommm!!!..Why did you not tell Dad that I was coming home tonight?” and after we all realized that he, indeed, had told me, albeit weeks ago (and that’s way too long ago for my shorter-all the-time term memory), we crawled back into bed.
Glenn was still trembling, as he put his arms around me. “I almost shot my son. I almost shot Caleb,” he said. “I am so thankful that I paused for one split second to discern who he was. I did not know that I would do that…And those silly lights of yours in the kitchen (He was talking about rope lights that line the top of my pantries; lights that we only have because he’s conceded to the decorator in me.)…if it were not for those lights I probably would have shot before knowing it was him. I’m so glad we have those lights. Someone…no, everyone, in this house could be deeply harmed.”
“I know,” I said…”Life, as we know it, could have been forever-and-ever irreparably changed. We are so very, very blessed…unspeakably blessed.”
Then he said this: “I just kept repeating in my mind as I stood behind that door…’There is no one who has the right to be in here. No one has my permission. No one has the right to be here.’ But, of course, I was not thinking of my son.”
Then we prayed—a deep emotional prayer of thanksgiving and praise. I cried. And somewhere in the moments just before dawn, we finally fell asleep again. I think, for me, it was around 4 a.m. Even now, 36 hours after that panicked awakening, it still does something to my body to recall it.
There are some take-aways in every painful recollection. Lest you think the lessons are about gun safety—even gun control–please know that we are extremely careful with firearms in our house and we are also pretty convinced that the world, in general, is safer, when citizens have the right to bear arms. The lessons for me are practical and spiritual truths, about which I am keenly reminded as I treasure the relationship I have with the man who will always be my child—my firstborn. I think when he walks down the aisle next month to be married I will drink a little more deeply in the joy of imagining his future and bask a little more thankfully in the realization that he and his bride will have precious time together in this venture we call “life”.
The take-aways for me:
- The first is the obvious one. We should all be prepared to lose our loved ones to eternity at any point in time. The part of that last phrase-“in time” is not just rhetoric. If it’s a point “in time”, it’s fleeting. It’s a point that you can identify by a date, hour, minute and second, but, by the time you do, it’s as far away as if you’d never marked it. Gone. But, when we say “a point in time” we really are deferring to eternity. Have you ever thought about the fact that there are no “points” in eternity? A realm so far beyond our grasp of imagination or reason and yet only a heartbeat away for any of us! For the Christian, that’s the adventure of living. It’s getting ready to be forever whisked out of this world and into one beyond the scope of human thought. It’s not just getting ready, but it’s also “being ready”. It’s sometimes, in the panics of life, still being able to know “It is well with my soul.”
- I should write things down when they are appointments I am making weeks ahead of time. (I should write things down when they are the next day.) Old people like me are not mentally invincible. Not even close. And, sometimes, that matters. (The silver cord may be snapping or the golden bowl being broken [Ecc. 12:6]) I should write things down.
- Pausing for discernment can be a really good thing before big irreversible decisions.
- Light is invaluable. It illuminates truth. If we walk in darkness, we stumble and we do not know where we are going (I John 2:10,11). We do not properly assess danger and we do not properly protect what is good. Psalm 89:15 says “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.” A little light in the darkness kept Glenn from pulling that trigger. It was a joyful sound when I heard him shout “Caleb!” But the illumination that comes from the light of the world keeps us from eternal hell (John 8:12). That’s real joy.
- The son has the right. Glenn just kept saying, “No one has the right to be in my house!” But the son had the right. Caleb has full access to us at any time—complete and absolute access. In the same way, no one has the right to the Father’s house. There is nothing I could ever do that would gain my entry into that house where there is warmth, security, peace and salvation. But the Son? He has the right. And because He is the great Intercessor, he has unlocked the doors for me (Matthew 16:15, 16). Because of the Son, I have gained entry and full access to the throne of the Father. He has the right and I am so very thankful.
- Thanksgiving is not the holiday of the week for the Colleys. It is the mantra of the last few days. I pray that our family will live every day in thanksgiving; not just for amazing blessings like the sparing of our son’s life in that surreal moment in the kitchen Friday night, but, most of all, for the Son, who has the right to be in the Father’s house.