I want to tell you about a very dark night that blazed with light. What you saw all depended on your perspective.
The man I married traveled for work. He would usually leave after the Sunday evening service and return the following Saturday morning, Friday evening if I was lucky.
I developed my self-talk early on. Even though I felt safer when he was home, I really wasn’t any safer than when he was gone for it was God who protected us both at home and on the road, separated or together. (Someday I will tell you about the miraculous near misses I have been in on the road.) Occasionally God reminds us what he spares us from all the time. Keeps our prayers real and honest and prevents them from becoming rote.
Back to the dark night.
The kids and I were home by ourselves. I had them all tucked in bed asleep and was ready to turn in when I heard a Popoid toy skitter across the wood floor of the living room. Popoids made a distinct sound and they did not move under their own power. Unfortunately, the only phone was downstairs in the kitchen on the far side of the house.
We lived in a tri-level home, and the upper hall from my bedroom, across to and down the stairs, was open to the living room. The lone light burning that night was at the top of those stairs. As I descended the stairs, a sense of evil grew until it was totally pervasive and I ducked behind the first cover I could find—an overstuffed chair. There I cowered for what seemed like an eternity. I wanted the phone, but to get to it, I would be fully exposed by the light to the un-curtained windows of the front door. I wanted to get to my babies upstairs but then I would be exposed even longer, long enough for a clean shot. So, I cowered behind the chair on that dark moonless night and prayed harder than I had ever prayed before. I continuously begged God to protect my family from the evil I sensed all around me.
I could not tell you how long it was before the sense of evil lifted, and I ran upstairs to go from sleeping child to sleeping child checking on their well-fare and rearranging their covers. I thought I would never get to sleep but God tucked me in that night. It was as if he kissed my forehead and said, “Sleep well my child.” I slept soundly till the phone rang the next morning—the first of seventeen calls. Every caller wanted to know the same thing: Were we okay and what happened? God had raised seventeen prayer warriors from their sleep to pray for us. I had nothing to tell other than that sense of evil surrounding me in that pitch-black house with its solitary light. We did not know what had happened.
I have often wished that an artist could paint that night for me, perhaps a cutaway of the house all dark and the kids sleeping in their beds while I crouched and prayed behind the chair. And then paint what I did not see. The blaze of lights and glory.
To make sense of this for you, I need to introduce you to the “Old Man from the nursing home.” The kids and I never knew him by any other name.
We had been watching out for him. He would walk to the corner by our house and wait for a friend to drive by and offer him a lift. Some days he stood there for hours. One 100-degree summer day, we agreed that if no one came in fifteen minutes, we would pile into the van and offer him a lift. That one day had turned into two years. His destination was always the local VFW bar about a mile away.
We had given him a ride the day that turned into the dark night, but had not seen him for two weeks since and wondered if he were sick or even alive.
Then there he was again on the street corner. We piled into the van to pick him up. This time things were different. He wasn’t just the grumpy old codger who grudgingly thanked us for a lift. He was so scared that he blanched at the sight of us. He was not going to get in the van until he had assured himself that we were not ghosts and even then, he was reticent.
But he did get in the van, and then asked me “How did you know?” I inquired how did I know what? He replied “How did you know they were coming?” I didn’t know what he talking about and told him so.
The old man told me that the last time I dropped him off at the VFW about nine men who had long been upset by my bi-racial marriage and children had worked up the nerve to come slaughter us all.
They left the old man at the bar as they slunk up the street and hid in the weeds in the empty field across from my house as they firmed up their plans.
When they returned to the bar the old man inquired, “Did you do it?” While they drowned their fear and confusion in alcohol, they told him no. As they laid in hiding to assess the situation, they saw the house ablaze with bright lights inside and out. On top of that, they counted seventeen big burly men in white suits roaming about both inside and outside the house. They couldn’t understand who had told me they were coming and where I could have recruited all those men to defend the house. They were out numbered and would get caught so they aborted their mission.
The old man asked again and again to find out where all the men in white came from. I had nothing to tell him. It took me a while to put it all together—longer than our short ride to the VFW. Besides I was a bit in shock after all he had just told me.
We seldom saw the old man after that, and when we did, his friends would quickly pick him up and drive off. As for the rest of the men if they ever tried again the Lord did not let me be privy to such knowledge.
So, I say it again Praise be to Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts who is our protector.