My daughter's cry pierced the darkened hallway.
"Daddy, don't leave!"
I turned back to her room and sat back down on her bed. "What's wrong, sweetie?"
"I can't go to sleep if you aren't here."
Joyful tears well up in my eyes as I remember that moment from a decade ago. It seems like only yesterday. It was the day that the Lord taught me the meaning of the word "abide".
My daughter was five years old and we had recently moved into a new house. She was frightened about being alone in her room. It was strange, new place and she needed the comfort of her father's presence… my presence. Fatherhood is a mystery and an unfathomable joy that continues to unfold each and every day but there is something especially unique about the relationship between a little girl and her daddy. (No tears gentlemen. I have discovered keyboards aren't waterproof.)
Although I was exhausted from the move, my daughter's cry had pierced the fog of fatigue. Unlike other nights, she wasn't trying to wheedle a few extra minutes of playtime with requests for water, hugs, or a bedtime story. She simply needed me to be there. Nothing less than my presence would allow her to feel secure so she could fall asleep.
Afterward, as I was walking to my room, the Lord pressed upon my heart His words:
After these words, some questions came to mind:
"Is My presence essential to your day?
Do you seek Me and cry out for Me each and every day?
Do you need My presence as much as your daughter needed yours?"
I wept. But this time it was with shame. I had become so preoccupied with the move, my job, my life that I had failed to seek my Father's presence. And in that simple, joyful moment with my daughter, G-d showed me a picture of how I should cry out to Him, "Father, don't leave! Abide with me!"
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 21st was abide and it brought to mind that beautiful, poignant moment with my daughter from a decade ago. It also brought to mind a beautiful 19th century hymn that puts the cry and desire for G-d's abiding presence into song:
Abide with Me
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears not bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.
Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
May that be our cry today to our Heavenly Father: in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.