I stumble out of the tent only a few hours after I climb in. I don't sleep well when I'm away from home and it's only just turned to morning but I can't wait any longer. I'm bleary eyed as I wander down the road to the restrooms but even with my eyes half shut, I still feel it, the way this time of day feels sacred and peaceful and oh so full of hope.
It's when I come out of the restrooms and stare across the pond that I see it. There's light coming up behind the mountains on the horizon and sunrise is still a long ways off but beauty's already here and I can't take my eyes off it.
I'm weary from the sleepless nights and it's too cold for a woman in pajamas to stand at the water's edge and wait for day to break. But something's holding me here and I don't want to leave. I know if I turn away, wander back to a warm cocoon, I'll miss the coming of the day, the coming of His Glory.
And I don't want to miss Him.
I see He's left me one dry spot on the railroad tie by the pond and I settle myself here, wrap arms around knees to find a little warmth. I watch the clouds drift across the sky, rays of light flickering at horizon's edge.
I feel a little silly out here in the cold, waiting for the sun to rise, not even knowing how long it's going to take. But I'm pretty sure I won't catch my death of cold and my heart's bursting with excitement to see this day break wide open. So I bury my cheeks in the crook of my elbow and I vow to stick it out.
Everyone else is still sleeping and I feel a little sorry for all of them. They might be warm in their beds and they might think there's nothing out here worth seeing but they're wrong. God's about to create a new day and right now it's just Him and me out here by the pond, but somehow I know He's not disappointed that it's only me watching His Glory in the sky.
I've sat an hour in the cold when my resolve starts to waver. Maybe I shouldn't be out here this long and maybe what's about to happen isn't worth all this waiting and shivering. I wander back into the restrooms to stand by the heater and find a little courage. Because I've already waited an hour to watch this day be born and surely I can hold on a little longer to see what God's about to do.
I find my place by the pond again, this time standing up and shifting my weight to keep warm. I watch ducks flying circles around the pond and strange birds screeching at the tops of their lungs, taunting people who try to sleep in tents in the woods. I can't help but smile. The world is waking up ever so slowly and I know the sun's rising must be coming soon.
I settle myself back on the railroad tie because I know His Glory's about to break forth and who can stand up when God passes by? I start to wonder if I'll be able to see the sun when it crests the mountain's top because there are all these trees and maybe they'll hide the Glory I've been waiting so long for.
But I don't have to wonder long. It's an hour and thirty-seven minutes since I found my way to the pond when suddenly it happens. God pulls the sun from it's place behind the mountains and it doesn't matter that there's a tree right in front because God's never overshadowed and the light of the sun pierces straight through to me and I'm undone.
I can't keep the tears from slipping as the light falls over the rain-soaked meadow and there's so much beauty here I can hardly take it in. And I can't believe I ever thought of leaving, can't believe I might've missed this moment so full of Glory and God.
But isn't that always the way? We feel the pull to wait for Him, wait for all the Glory to be revealed. But sometimes it's a long wait in the cold air and we start to wonder if this is really where we ought to be. And after all, why are we the only ones standing here in the dark, waiting for God to show up?
And how many times have I convinced myself to walk away, ignored that aching desire to find Him in the dark nights and the rush of days? It's too many to count and I know it now that it's worth the wait and I don't want to forget this moment with my heart ripped wide open and God pressing down all around me.
I pray hard for the things that weigh heavy and I whisper deep thanks for Him holding me here to see this day unfold. I feel Him here, nearer than ever before, and I beg Him to let this moment last a little longer.
I stand up from my perch and walk 15 feet to left. There're no more trees in front of the sun and I'm blinded by all the light. I shut my eyes and stand here, face turned to God, and the warmth finds me all the way down here by this pond full of ducks. I'm just this small piece of a very big world and He's just the biggest God of all, but somehow He's bent low to stand beside me and fill me up with all His beauty.
I've no camera in hand to freeze this moment in time, but I blink the eyelid shutters to memorize what I've seen here. I know the clouds will roll in and I might not see the sun again all day. And I might be tempted to forget that I ever saw the sun at all, forget that I watched this day being born. But I didn't wait an hour and thirty-seven minutes in the cold just to forget all this.
And I've finally counted a thousand ways He loves and I've seen His Glory in all these moments of a life, but sometimes the sun hides behind too many clouds and I forget that He's still here and I'm still loved and Grace still pours down in every corner of this life. But I didn't spend 216 days counting His love just to forget all this.
This long list of thanks is me standing by the pond at dawn, waiting for God to show up and break my heart with all His Beauty. And my resolve may flicker when I'm too cold to stand here any longer, but I'm begging Him to hold me here when all I want to do is walk away. Because there's God Glory in every last day of this life and I don't want to be the one sleeping in a warm bed when He passes by.
It's morning now. I need to find my way back to camp and it takes everything I've got to tear myself away from this moment. I'm cold through and through but there's this fire in my chest and I'm burning up with all this Hope and Beauty and God.
I waited an hour and thirty-seven minutes for this day to be born and somehow a lifetime doesn't seem too long to wait when I know He'll be there at the end, all His Glory unveiled, Him and me reconciled at last.
I'll wait and I'll count and I'll keep my eyes fixed on the horizon because He is coming and I want to be here watching when He does.
1001. Quiet first night around the fire
1002. Big bright moon rising over our campsite
1003. Snuggled in a tent, sound of creek lulling to sleep
1004. Symphony of birds at dawn
1005. Laughing at the sound of screeching birds overhead
1006. Watching tent fiascoes from a chair in the sun
1007. Hot chai on a cold morning
1008. Smell of garlic potatoes wafting through our campsite
1009. Breakfast feast in the middle of the forest
1010. Sun making an appearance, me shedding all the layers
1011. Laughing with cousins, waiting for more family to arrive
1012. Mom and Dad playing games, metal washers thudding against wood
1013. Rest of the gang finally arriving, chaos ensuing
1014. Listening to all the commotion from my resting place inside the tent
1015. Steaks on the grill, marshmallows roasted in the fire
1016. All of us gathered around the campfire, more laughter than I've had in a long while
1017. Hot shower on a cold morning, feeling clean after all the dirt
1018. Rain-soaked adventures in the campsite, digging trenches and hanging tarps
1019. All of us longing for sun but taking the rain in stride
1020. Rain finally stopping, us coming out of hiding
1021. Sun drying us off, beckoning us to leave our site
1022. Round of miniature golf with Dad
1023. Me failing miserably to get the ball in the hole
1024. Dad going easy on me, trying to make me feel better than I am
1025. Shared dinner of hamburgers and watermelon and too much good stuff for one plate
1026. Walking around the campground at dusk, exploring places we haven't been yet
1027. Last night around the fire, all of us thankful the rain hasn't returned
1028. Being the last ones to leave the fire for bed
1029. Waking up at dawn, day not yet begun
1030. Dry spot to sit on by the pond
1031. God holding me here in spite of the cold
1032. Nine ducks swimming in formation, one more lagging behind
1033. Loudest birds screeching back and forth, swooping among the campsites
1034. Clouds drifting and shifting, light getting ready to break forth
1035. An hour and thirty-seven minutes by the pond, waiting for Glory to be revealed
1036. Sun finally rising above the mountains, light piercing straight into me
1037. Beauty breaking my heart, God raining down