We played every game we knew. We ran up and down the hall. We played "find me" behind the couch. We bounced the beach ball off each other's heads. We wrestled, played tag, and danced. It was a big evening for Mom, Dad, and little Jenna. We were having so much fun that we ignored the bedtime hour and turned off the T.V. And if the storm hadn't hit, who knows how late we would have played.
But then the storm hit. Rain pattered, then tapped, then slapped against the windows. The winds roared in off the Atlantic and gushed through the nearby mountains with such force that all the power went off. The adjacent valley acted as a funnel, hosing wind on the city. We all went into the bedroom and lay on the bed. In the darkness we listened to the divine orchestra. Electricity danced in the sky like a conductor's baton summoning the deep kettledrums of thunder.
I sensed it as we were lying on the bed. It blew over me mixed with the sweet fragrance of fresh rain. My wife was lying silently at my side. Jenna was using my stomach for her pillow. She, too, was quiet. Our second child, only a month from birth, rested within the womb of her mother. They must have sensed it, for no one spoke. It entered our presence as if introduced by God himself. And no one dared stir for fear it would leave prematurely.
What was it? An eternal instant.
An instant in time that had no time. A picture that froze in mid- frame, demanding to be savored. A minute that refused to die after sixty seconds. A moment that was lifted off the time line and amplified into a forever so all the angels could witness its majesty.
An eternal instant.
A moment that reminds you of the treasures surrounding you. Your home. Your peace of mind. Your health. A moment that tenderly rebukes you for spending so much time on temporal preoccupations such as savings accounts, houses, and punctuality. A moment that can bring a mist to the manliest of eyes and perspective to the darkest life.
Eternal instants have dotted history.
It was an eternal instant when the Creator smiled and said, "It is good." It was a timeless moment when Abraham pleaded for mercy from the God of mercy, "But if there are just ten faithful." I was a moment without time when Noah pushed open the rain-soaked hatch and breathed in the clean air. And it was a moment in the "fullness of time" when a carpenter, some smelly shepherds, and an exhausted, young mother stood in silent awe at the sight of the infant in the manger.
You've had them. We all have. Sharing a porch swing on a summer evening with your grandchild. Seeing her face in the glow of the candle. Putting your arm into your husband's as you stroll through the golden leaves and breathe the brisk autumn air. Listening to your six-year-old thank God for everything from goldfish to Grandma.
Such moments are necessary because they remind us that everything is okay. The King is still on the throne and life is still worth living. Eternal instants remind us that love is still the greatest possession and the future is nothing to fear.
The next time an instant in your life begins to be eternal, let it. Put your head back on the pillow and soak it in. Resist the urge to cut it short. Don't interrupt the silence or shatter the solemnity. You are, in a very special way, on holy ground.