I heard rumblings from the laundry room several times that morning and wasn’t overly suspicious. We have these kittens, you see.
The dryer wasn’t on and I knew the dryer door was opened, so I wasn’t afraid, just mildly amused that they must have been wrestling (again) and bumping up against furniture and appliances (again).
But it wasn’t the kittens. It was my son, who apparently was awake and moving without me knowing. He had tossed through the clothes upstairs in his dresser and couldn’t find his new favorite shirt. So, he’d slipped down the stairs unnoticed, snuck into the laundry room and was hunting through the clean clothes in the dryer.
When that failed, he headed back upstairs again and finally started crying in rage. That’s when I ran upstairs to find him standing in a mound of clean clothes that did not include the shirt he wanted.
I had put his shirt in the wash when I started laundry around 7:30 that morning. It was soaking wet and still spinning around in soapy water.
It was a rough start to the day. Sometimes you can just roll with the punches and sometimes your favorite shirt is in the washing machine and you just can’t handle that kind of disappointment.
The day improved, of course. He shook off the disappointment eventually and later the treasured shirt came out of the dryer, not just clean but warm and cozy, too.
I’m a “favorites” kind of person also. I have favorite socks , sweaters, flavors of tea and mugs to drink my tea in. I re-read favorite books (five and six times),I order favorite meals from restaurants, and listen repeatedly to favorite songs in my car.
When I have to do hard things (like go to the dentist), I deck myself out in cozy socks, comfy shoes, well-worn jeans, and my fuzziest jacket.
Sometimes we just need to go back to what we know and some days are simply better with your favorite shirt.
I’ve been reading about Abraham’s journeys recently and treasuring the reminder that he “traveled in stages.” He didn’t bolt from calling to fulfillment, from vision to completion, or from home to the Promised Land overnight.
This was a process, a long step-by-step movement from one place of faith to the next place of faith and then onward again.
Abraham’s journey looked like this: Arrive at a new place, encounter the Lord, receive God’s promise, and build an altar.
He responded to the Lord in every place and every season with sacrificial obedience and worship.
May this be me.
In hard places and comfy places, in every season, in each situation my response should be an altar: A commitment. A laying down. An act of sacrifice. A devotion to worship.
So I do this: I seek out mementos and build memorials, choose a Scripture, write a prayer, repeat a song. I set my heart on re-dedication and re-commitment to follow the Lord wherever He calls me to go.
Here’s something else I see about Abraham, though–he returns.
In Genesis 12, it says:
The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel and pitched his tent…. He built an altar to the Lord there, and he called on the name of the Lord. 9 Then Abram journeyed by stages to the Negev (Genesis 12:7-9 CSB).
From there, Abraham encountered some difficulties.
There was a famine, so he left the land of Promise and headed to Egypt. He was afraid. He lied to Pharaoh about Sarai and said she was his sister. After Egypt, Abraham is plagued with family drama. Lot’s servants and Abraham’s servants couldn’t work together anymore, so they separated.
So much had happened since Bethel: fear, sin, wandering, strife, separation.
That’s when Abraham goes back:
He went by stages from the Negev to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had formerly been, 4 to the site where he had built the altar. And Abram called on the name of the Lord there (Genesis 13:3-4 CSB).
Maybe sometimes a favorite mug with my favorite tea is a pick-me-up for a dreary day….but also a favorite verse, devotional, worship song, prayer practice, or spiritual discipline helps to pull my heart back to the Lord.
It’s because I wander or get lost or grow weary. I certainly am forgetful. I sin.
So I travel back to my “Bethel,” the place where I’ve encountered the Lord. And I seek Him there again. I call on His name once more.