We started speech therapy with our middle son when he was 18 months old, back in January of this year. One of the things our therapist taught us was to incorporate a start-stop language repetition to the routines and play that we already do with Cannon. For example, when we would swing him around- something he loves to do- we would pick him up, and with a predictable cadence say, “ready, set…” then wait for eye contact from him and finish with, “go!” It was a practice we began daily, and for the last seven months we have been swinging, repeating, meeting his eyes, almost willing the words to finish that sentence to come out of his mouth.
And then last week, out of the clear blue summer sky, Cannon climbed on my back, grabbed my neck, and completely unprompted by me said, “Set, DAA!”
Seven months of working on this phrase, of any part of it to come out of his sweet mouth. Hundreds and hundreds of spins and swings and slides and two persistent parents so badly wanting to hear the word “go” finish our sentence. And then one day, he just said it. “ Set, daa!” And now this little man walks around saying this at any opportunity— jumping off the couch, pretending to drive in the front seat, playing hide and seek: “Set, daa! Set, daa!” It’s so, so beautiful.
I have to confess though, that after seven months and all that spinning, I started to wonder if I would ever hear it. We brought out our very best enthusiasm and anticipation every single time we would pick him up to practice, and in all these months our enthusiasm could not pull the words out of him. “Ready, set…” then leaning in closely with my own mouth open as if to mimic the word he needed to tell me what to do next… and then silence. Hundreds of moments of silence; the loudest sound in the world sometimes.
It’s a little bit funny to me that God would choose a moment for Cannon to grasp set go when I was not prompting it from him at all. No enthusiastic play on my part, no fanfare, no looking down at his big green eyes willing the words from him. He just got in position and was ready when he was ready. A little ordinary miracle on a Wednesday afternoon.
Every one of us is thinking daily about the world we live in, about the fear and the anxiety and the politics and the maddening headlines. In fact, some of us are thinking so much about all that is wrong that we can’t celebrate what is right, all of the ordinary miracles around us. I’ve certainly been in this place, tallying in the “bad” category almost daily and forgetting to mark in the “good” category, too. It is no wonder the heaviness in my heart has been so present when so much of what I’ve been doing is scorekeeping for evil.
But that’s not how it’s supposed to be. We weren’t designed by Perfection Himself to merely survive our lives by avoiding as much bad as we can, nor is our call to begrudge and complain about any and everything that doesn’t fit our preferences or meet our needs. We were meant to celebrate the joy that He gives us right here in the midst of the bad; we were meant for glory, and that often shines brightest in the dark, if we will let it. The Christ follower has an incredibly important responsibility: to hold in our hearts the paradox that is the miracle of every breath and the unspeakable pain of a sinful world. It’s so, so hard. I fail at it every single day. And then… “Set, daa!” Oh, yes, something has been building the whole time I only heard silence.
And something is building now.
One of the greatest sins of the Israelites was that they kept forgetting how much God had showed up for them. The seas were parted, but in the waiting that followed, they forgot. The manna came from heaven, but in the resistance at Jericho, they forgot. And really, we are the same. Tragically, the same. We watch the news and cry “where are you, Lord?” forgetting that he is in the very breath it took to call out to him. Somewhere along the line, the fear in our hearts has drowned out our ability to see the ordinary miracles. Paul Tripp says, “[Amnesia] is the worst kind of blindness. It’s the physical ability to see without the spiritual ability to really see what you’ve seen. It’s the capacity to look at wonders, things specifically designed to move you and produce in you breathless amazement, and not be moved by them anymore. It’s the sad state of yawning in the face of glory.” It’s being so devastated by the headlines we forget to celebrate a little boy who found a new word.
God is always building something. Maybe we will see the answer in seven months or seven years or maybe not until we view history from our eternal vantage point. But something is happening, because God still has us here. I have this picture of God in heaven and Jesus at his right. The Savior of the world is poised and ready to come back for us, aching in the pain of sin and seeing each tear falling from our eyes. And there is God, feeling the same ache, waiting until the perfect, predestined moment to send this Savior back for his people. He’s watching, waiting, saying to his son, “Ready, set…”
We are just waiting for God’s “go”—waiting and trusting, clinging to the evidence of his goodness in all the beautiful, ordinary things.