When a toddler is screaming in the middle of the supermarket, for example.
Or perhaps when the teacher calls 'Can I have a word?' at home-time and points in your direction.
Or when everyone wants to watch yet another action film full of banging and shooting.
Or when you can't even lock yourself in the bathroom without a little hand working its way underneath the door.
Or when the arguments and bickering never seem to stop.
Or when you find yourself playing musical beds in the middle of the night (often with vomit involved).
Sometimes, anywhere is better than the present.
And over the years I have used this verse as mantra to get me through the difficult days and the long nights:
"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere." Psalm 84 v 10
I have held on to the hope-filled promise that being in God's presence is always better. In those moments of desperation when I have wanted to run away (ok, I have actually escaped several times only to realise that I'd run from the ones who loved me), I have clung on tightly to the promise of one day being in a place where there are no tears or pain. When depression has threatened to pull me beneath swirling waters, this verse has been my last gulp of air.
And then last week, I lay on a beautiful beach under blue skies having slept well and enjoyed a lazy morning and I realised this was what I had been longing for. It was peaceful (when I blocked out the noise of the arguments over SAND) and I felt happy.
Perhaps this is not a shocker of a revelation to you. Perhaps this has always been obvious. But for me, realising the depth of God's goodness, grace and love for me in allowing me to hang out with him was a game-changer.
I don't just need to cling to this verse on dark days. It's not just a promise for better days to come, it's an invitation for the now. It's an invitation to do life, every-day-good-and-bad-life, in God's presence. It's knowing that everything I do now, comes out of being in the refreshing courts of God. It's being replenished so that I can keep giving. I don't have to 'hang on in there' for God's presence. Jesus made a way for me to walk straight in - the doors are opened and there are welcome signs everywhere.
I'm heading straight through that open door. Want to join me?