Waterfalls From Where We Cry

pouting

She sat on that rock for what felt like forever, pouting and kicking the dirt around as she cried.

Where are we going?!!? …What are we doing?!?  she screamed every time I reached for her hand.

We were supposed to go on an adventure. But she wasn’t having it. Overwhelmed with the unknown, she stayed petrified on that rock and wouldn’t budge.

I told her, it would be worth it. 

I promise.

Though it might be difficult,  I would be with her every step of the way.

There was so much I wanted to show her.

But her cries and questions continued.

I suppose that’s what happens when you take a three-year-old hiking. But as I watched her pouting on the rock that day, I thought of all the times I have done the exact same thing. How so often,

We don’t understand what God is doing.

We want to know where we are going and why, protesting and refusing to take one more step until God answers our every question.

….Where are you taking me?!? ….What are you doing?!? 

How God lovingly responds to those questions in much of the same way I did to my daughter,

 “…You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” (John 13:7)

But it will be worth it, I promise… 

Allowing us to sit on the rock until we catch our breath and are ready to continue the path with Him.

And when we are ready, God reaches for our hand and promises not to let us stumble.

In Psalm 121:3-8 it says,

[God] will not let you stumble;

The One who watches over you will not slumber.

The Lord himself watches over you!

The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life… now and forever.

What I longed for my daughter to see was that she wasn’t alone on the path –  I was standing beside her, holding out my hand and inviting her on an adventure where I promised to be with her every step of the way. There was so much I wanted to show her.

God promises the same for us. That if we choose to get off the rock and leave our unanswered questions behind, He will never let us stumble. And just like my daughter learned on the mountain that day, when the journey becomes too much to bear, our father will be right by our side like he promised, ready to swoop in and carry us the rest of the way.

And there is so much He wants to show us…

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You see,

We try to evade the beautiful adventure set before us, but God wants us to embrace it!

Because even with all of life’s uncertainty there is unadulterated beauty – in this very moment! Waterfalls to be seen from where we cry.

I think back to my daughter sobbing on the rock. Her uncertainties valid, but paralyzing. Her questions causing her to recoil from the unknown of the future, but with it, the beauty surrounding her in the present.

How because of her fear of the unknown, she was unaware of the waterfall directly beneath her as she cried.

It got me thinking about the gifts I may have missed because of the tantrums I have thrown. Wondering what beauty I never got to bask in because I was so caught up with my questions, my fears and all the expectations I had about the future. The opportunities I likely missed for God to carry me because I was too fearful to step out on a difficult path where I would ever need Him to.

But as I tucked my daughter into bed that night, she held me tight as we reflected on the day we shared,

“We went on an adventure – TOGETHER!” she squealed in delight.

And I considered for a moment the journey we embarked on, and how it was likely only a minuscule fraction of the adventure God wants to take His children on. How one day when we wrap ourselves up in the arms of our Creator, we could only be so lucky to hear those exact words as we reflect on the journey through this life we shared – together!

How that adventure is waiting –

One brimming with waterfalls to be seen from where we cry, today.

… If only I’d choose to get off the rock and quit pouting.

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waterfall

Saying Thanks For The Suffering

Saying Thanks For The Suffering

Against my better judgment I went canoeing last week. By myself.

It seems it slipped my mind that – even on my best day – I am borderline incapable of EVERYTHING. I mean, I cry when there are too many dishes in the sink and lack the skill-set to do much more than chug water and make chili, let alone the tenacity or the arm muscles needed to paddle my way out of a rain storm.

But it happened.

…The slipping of my mind AND the rain storm!

It began how all storms start, with one rain drop landing right on the tip of my nose and only after I had wandered far from the dock I had pushed off from.

Alarmed, I quickly reached for the oars and did my best to navigate the boat, but as I paddled it began to rain harder, the wind pushing against my best efforts as I oared. I fought the wind as hard as I could, pushing strong and purposefully through the water. Each of my attempts to steady the boat sent it spinning in the opposite direction.

I knew no matter how furiously I paddled, there was no chance I was going to be able to dock the boat where I had originally came in at (what with my lack of tenacity and all.) So I slammed the boat onto some random part of the shore.

Wobbling my way down to the edge of the boat I jumped out on land, my feet sinking in the mud as I attempted to pull the boat up hill and the rest of the distance.

When I was out of breath, covered in mud and mumbling curse words under my breath about how I should have just stayed inside and spent my time doing much more enjoyable things, like eating girl scout cookies, the Lord spoke so clearly it startled me,

He said,

“…Imagine where you would be had I left you to navigate the storms of this life on your own…”

…I pictured my failed attempts at controlling the direction of the boat….slamming onto some random shore to escape the storm… dragging what was far too heavy for me to carry on my own, until I nearly passed out…

It got me thinking of the ways the Lord had been there for me through the storms of this last year. How my life, like my canoe, had been traveling along on its merry way when a single rain drop – one confession made on a bitterly cold night – ushered in the storm that would jostle my little life into a chaos I couldn’t see my way out of.

How I was terrified, but never left to navigate the downpour alone because God was with me in the treacherous waters. Calming the storm in my heart and my family and working tirelessly to bring me to safety.

In Psalm 107:23-30 it says,

Some went off to sea in ships…

Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. 

They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wit’s end.

“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

 and He saved them from their distress.

Without God and the stillness only He can bring, we are just like these sailors described in the Bible; paddling strong and hard and not getting very far, crying out in terror and nearly at our wit’s end. Like my canoe trip, we are aimlessly searching for a way to escape the storm, our best efforts doing little more than leaving us drenched in mud and struggling to pick up the pieces in our own strength.

But God doesn’t leave us alone to figure it out, verse 29-30 says,

…[God] calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.

What a blessing was that stillness as He brought them safely into Harbor!”

Here’s what I know: We cry out to a God who is able to rescue that which is being ‘tossed to the heavens and plunged to the depths’ in our lives – our marriages, our health, our finances  – Whatever it is that has left us broken-hearted, frightened and at the breaking point!

Our God hears our cries and will save us from our distress, bringing that which is out of control and out of our hands to a place of complete stillness and safety.

And He doesn’t stop there –

Verse 24 says those who encountered the storm, “…Observed the Lord’s power in action, His impressive works on the deepest seas.”

Understand,

The storms we face are a gift –

An invitation to see first hand the Power of the Lord in action. An opportunity given only to those who have suffered, reeled and screamed out in terror. Those who have found themselves navigating the DEEPEST SEAS.

Because just like the verse says,

The Lord reserves His most impressive works for those voyaging the deepest – and often, the most terrifying – seas.

My life is proof of that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As I walked back up to the cabin in the rain I thanked God for the raging storms in my life. I told Him how grateful I was that He never made me venture those storms alone because no doubt, they would have ended just as poorly as my canoe trip.

Then suddenly the rain came to a complete stop, and I watched as the waters stilled and all became quiet again. I considered the beautiful stories I could tell of God doing the same thing in my life and my heart, how He has ushered me safely to the place I am today – Not in spite of the storms I have faced, but because of them!

Then I went inside, changed my muddy jeans and cozied up to the fire and ate some girl scout cookies in celebration of the gift I had failed to see I’d been given;

Suffering-

The storm that caused it. The safety and stillness God brought in the midst of it. And the stories I will tell because of it.

Stories of the Lord’s most impressive works

on the deepest seas.

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On fear, pep talks, and searching for God in the popcorn ceiling

searching for god On multiple occasions I have asked Jesus to come to me.

On my darkest nights and when He has been painfully silent, I have asked God to come to me in the flesh, look me dead in the eye and acknowledge the mess made of my life.

All I am looking for is a pep talk of sorts, the ones I suppose they do during Halftime when the game has been perticularly brutal. A few encouraging words, a hopeful promise or two, and at the very least a hug or something before God smacks my butt and tells me to get back in the game. But its never happened. It likely never will. Interestingly, I still pray for it… it’s happened to people in the Bible and on Oprah so there can’t be any harm in asking.

This week I asked that God come to me while sprawled out on the living room floor. Picture: a person laying on the grass gazing up at the sky but minus the grass, sky and anything else that makes that scene look even remotely normal – Instead, like a maniac, I was lying on my back, smack dab in the middle of the living room and searching for God somewhere in the popcorn ceiling. I then proceeded to ask God a few questions:

– WHO AM I to walk the road set before me? …I am barely recognizable to the person I once was. This battle has scarred me and this heartache has changed me. God, I can’t do this…

– WHAT IF this doesn’t work? God, I am so afraid…

– WHAT IF it gets WORSE?!? No seriously God, It’s not allowed to get worse!

Then I spun off on a tangent about all the reasons God should probably just be done with me because case in point: I was crying out to God like a blubbering mess from the living room floor!

In the Bible, Moses did the same thing. Not by searching for God in the popcorn ceiling or anything too crazy, just protesting God via a burning bush. And like me, Moses had the same kind of questions for God: WHO AM I to walk the road set before me?  WHAT IF this doesn’t work? WHAT IF this gets WORSE? 

And like me, Moses proceeded to tell God all the reasons he was incapable of enduring the circumstances set before him. (Exodus 3:11-124:1-12)

But God simply responded, “…I will be with you.” I suppose we all have questions for God amidst our fear and uncertainty, And just like Moses,

Every question we ask in fear, is proceeded with a promise from a loving God:

“…I will be with you.”

(Exodus 3:11)

In over your head?… I will be with you.

Afraid you might let go?… I will be with you.

Uncertain of what lies ahead? ….I will be with you.

Terrified? Tired? Heartbroken? Anything in between? … I will be with you.

Jesus has never come to me in a dream, a burning bush, or while looking up at the popcorn ceiling, but He did speak to me though this passage in the Bible (and I imagine if He ever did come to me this is exactly what He would say…)

But now, listen to the Lord who created you… The one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God. …You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.  Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  (Isaiah 43:1-5)

God is with us.

He promised it to Moses, and He is promising it to you and I as well.

Because God is with us, we can trade our fear for security, knowing we are not alone even when we most feel like it. Even when our lives feel like a mess of catastrophic proportions – our circumstances are divine, our pain has purpose and we are here on this Earth for a reason!

Fear may have taken hold of our hearts, ‘…but now we must listen to the Lord who created us’ and believe He will do what He promised and be by our side every – terrifying – step of the way.

We don’t need God to come to us in our dreams, a burning bush or while laying on our back staring up at the popcorn ceiling, though I will likely never stop asking. The only pep talk we need is right here:

“You are precious to me.

You are honored, and I love you.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

– God

…Consider our butts smacked.

Now let’s get back in the game.

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