The sand crunched cold against the back of my hand as I lay there in the dark, arms crossed behind my head. My knuckles worked their way into the soft silt soundlessly, my weight making the slightest dent in the massive desert dunes.
Tiny like a grain of sand.
I feel so small right now.
In this huge ocean of desert, all I’d have to do is move and a whisper would shift a silky wave of sand back over the spot where I’d been.
But at that moment, there wasn’t even a whisper.
The silence was huge as the desert sky forgot the last hints of sunlight and gave over to night. In seconds, it became a rich black canvas for stars to poke through, white bulbs punched in a Lite Brite.
“It almost feels like you can reach out and touch them, they’re so close,” said my friend Elizabeth, who was laying a few feet away.
I nodded, even though she couldn’t see me.
I don’t think either of us could’ve felt farther from home than we did in that moment, lying there in the gaping evening shadows of the central Asian desert, starlight piercing our thoughts. Moments ago, I’d laughed until tears ran out into the sand — we were looking at a ridiculous picture we’d posed with a cup of noodles and the camels that had brought us out here.
Where are we.
Still, even here, God sees.
Earlier that morning, we’d taken a tour of an ancient place covered with art that honored a faith whose followers strive to be like their figurehead — to achieve a state of sleep.
Lying there wide-eyed, sleep was the furthest thing from my mind.
I sifted sand through my fingertips.
“Elizabeth, aren’t you glad we don’t have to follow something that tells us the best we can do is to one day get to sleep for a few thousand years? Aren’t you glad we get to follow the One who made all this?”
The One who is bigger than the sky, yet sees us. And loves us. And pursues us so we can spend eternity reigning with Him.
The silence reigned a little while longer, and then we found ourselves singing. Song after song came, and eventually this one.
Your love is like radiant diamonds bursting inside us we cannot contain.
Your love will surely come find us like blazing wildfires singing Your name.
God of mercy, sweet Love of mine,
I have surrendered to Your design.
May this offering stretch across the sky;
These hallelujahs be multiplied.
I thrust my palms into the night sky, praising the One whose love does surely come find us, no matter what square foot of earth we’re standing on, no matter how remote or how normal.
He reaches for us. We just have to reach back.
Starlight traced the edges of my outstretched hands. Lying there, like Elizabeth said, it’s almost like we could touch Him.
It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
But the next morning, as I drank instant coffee from a paper cup and watched the sun pierce the sky over the dunes, the thought that warmed me wasn’t so much that this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.
It was the thought that these moments, moments where I feel His grandness bursting my heart – they pierce my every day. In my car. At my desk. When I run, when I’m folding laundry, when I get up early to read the Bible.
Your love will surely come find me.
In a few days from now, when I’m back at my commute from the Birmingham suburbs just as the sun rips the Alabama sky open over I-65, God will find me there just like He always has.
I just have to choose to reach back.
He’s always there, and He’s always just as amazing. Expansive. Overwhelming. Personal. Beautiful.
Sometimes when we find ourselves on a mountaintop, we feel like our heart is quickened to realize His presence. And in some ways, it is.
But those moments were never meant for us to walk away and forget who He is. We pack that mountain, that sunrise, that starry night into our hearts and they gather together again in collective praise every time that we feel Him in our quiet cup of coffee, every time we talk to Him while we fold clothes, every time we do our job as an act of worship to Him.
Wherever we are, His love surely will come find us.
Like blazing wildfires.
More, please. More of that.
I stretch out my hands again.
God’s love. It’s worth our whole life, our whole story.
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