“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown
My feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
We helplessly watched as cancer swarmed in on our father’s organs and took his last breath of life, dying in the battle against this disease. Our family saw the terror of treatments that seemed worse than the cancer that overtook him. We were in shock from watching. Why does this disease even exist? Why does it shamelessly attack grandmas, fathers, aunts and…children?
I didn’t understand.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
“In oceans deep
My faith wears thin”
One month later, still reeling from the loss of our father, we lost my grandfather to dementia and lung disease.
I found myself in the depths.
“And I will call upon your name
And keep my eyes above the waves”
That year I sunk deeper and deeper. I would be overcome in sorrow; brought to tears lying sleepless in bed every night, sitting at my desk at work, in line at the grocery store… Then, (it didn’t seem possible,) but things went from worse to worse.
The big “D” began visiting my house and he brought his other “D friend”.
These deaths, now divorce and depression—all in the same year; all as a faithful, praying, seeking Christian.
“Time heals all wounds…”
Really?! I wanted to just barf at the well-meaning people saying this to me.
It wasn’t fair. This wasn’t what I signed up for when I gave my heart to the Lord.
I didn’t understand.
But, I loved the Lord. I clung to him with everything I had. The Hope I had in Him, and His power to get me through, and to bring light into dark places, kept me holding on.
“Your grace abounds in deepest waters”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways submit to Him,
And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6)
So, if I loved the Lord, and trusted in His grace to get me through the deepest of my despair, didn’t He also deserve my understanding?
“You’ve never failed and you won’t start now.
So I will call upon your name
And keep my eyes above the waves”
A couple of years into the depths of this dark time, my Pastor, Jason Daye was preaching on the story of Elijah. (1 Kings Chapters 17-18) What struck me most in the story of this great prophet of God were the three years of drought that the Lord sent on the land he was in. He endured such fear, such total need, desperation and reliance on the Lord for every single second, of every single minute, of every single day, of every exhausting week for three long years. Three years of threats against him. Three years of having nothing, being stuck out in the cracked, parched desert and the only thing he had left, for all of his trusting in the Lord, was his life. He survived solely on the Word of the Lord.
“Your sovereign hand will be my guide
My feet may fail and fear surrounds me…”
God was so near to him for every one of those seconds, providing for him by day and by night.
Those days and nights when I was feeling so lost and emptied, I fixed my eyes on Jesus.
The truth is, in looking back, even as I endured the storms and felt like I was drowning in the engulfing waves–this raw, pure need of feeling so broken and so desperate is when I have, like never before, felt so unfathomably and intimately close to God.
He was my anchor.
As I approached my own three year mark, I felt a foundation beneath my feet. I more often found myself “on shore” and was less and less frequently taken over by the waves. I was blessed with friendships that helped me along, blessed with help from all around me. Blessed to see how God provided for each day and each night.
Maybe there was something to this whole “time healing all wounds” thing.
Three years gone by–I am changed.
I appreciate more. I breathe deeper. I laugh more. I enjoy the sunsets, flowers, and “little things” a lot more. At a different place now, I trust God more.
Just beyond those three years, I took on an additional job and was learning a totally different profession, I was struggling in this new place. Even after all that I had been through; I still recognized my deep need for God in the ordinary stuff of life.
I distinctly remembered praying to Him for Help.
Then she showed up; the “new hire.” A chance convergence of life paths at this job–Was she my help?
As we navigated the job together, we bonded like we women can do when thrust together in the trenches of life. We shared our stories.
If, as Shakespeare says, “Life is but a stage…,” then I believe that friendships are the musical underscore of this life; two distinctly different instruments, coming together on the stage and creating harmony, melody and rhythms. Creating music that makes us smile and dance, moves us to tears and fills us with laughter. What a joyful tune a new friendship is! And this hand-delivered, divinely unique relationship has become such a spirit-filled one.
We no longer work together in the trenches of that job, but we’ve kept our friendship flourishing across miles, through life events and all around this stage of life.
Trusting like Elijah.
Then it happened to her:
Her father was diagnosed with cancer, and then died unexpectedly.
One month later, her grandfather passed away.
Then her marriage crumbled and now divorce continually slaps its waves at her face as I watch her sinking into a deepening depression.
All in the same year; all as a faithful, praying, seeking Christian.
I watch her tears flow freely at lunch, at the movies, at the grocery store and spilling across the stages of her life.
She doesn’t understand.
She can’t see above the waves right now.
I hug her. I tell her she’s not alone.
I refrain from telling her that “time will heal all her wounds.”
Instead, I tell her that I don’t understand either.
But, I do know One who understands.
He is our ever-present Help, the Anchor in our storm, the Living Water to quench our thirst and the firm Foundation of this whole stage we play out our lives on.
And I secretly watch her with a twinge of envy because I can see how close the Lord is to her right now. The Hands of God are cradling her. He holds her tears in His hands and draws her into an embrace like the sea around the shores.
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”
Whether you are in a drought-scorched desert, a raging tempest, or if you may be cresting a mountaintop, May your trust in the Lord go beyond all the borders of our own understanding.