Have you ever experienced playing in the ocean? The sun is shining brightly, the smell of salt in the air. The sand is smooth against the skin and the water - oh, the crystal clear blue water just begging you to enter and feel the coolness of it's touch. You run to the waters edge sticking in one toe at a time until you have decided it is comfortable enough to enter in up to your knees. Within minutes you are up to your waist, your chest, your neck. Soon, you are floating, laughing, bobbing freely a top the waves that lift you effortlessly up and down, up and down. For a moment you close your eyes, free floating, when all of a sudden it happens. Out of no where comes a larger wave, one you were not expecting, and BAM! Not only does it toss you up into the air, but it's invisible magic wave fingers seems to grab hold of you and slam you down into the sand below. Suddenly, that warm, smooth, wonderful sand becomes like unkept pavement on a busy city street. For a moment you are lost, wondering what in the hell just happened? You panic, the safety and joy you felt earlier is gone and you start to fill with fear.
Your mind has shifted from, 'Ahh, the sun is warm on my face, the water is cool on my back,' to 'Where is the shore? Am I going to drown? Is that blood? Blood in the water from my knee being slammed into that rock I didn't feel 30 seconds earlier? OMG, is there a shark nearby, smelling the blood?' You begin asking yourself, "Why did I come to the ocean? I hate water, I don't know how to swim...if I get out of here alive, I will never swim in the ocean again!" (OK, maybe none of you have actually had this scenario, but I have.....at least a dozen times, maybe more ~ and just once, I actually thought there WAS a shark!) And somewhere in the mucky waters I do what I do best, I pray! God SAVE me!
Eventually you get turned right side up, your eyes quit stinging, the water slowly drains from your ears, you look around, and the shoreline is in front of you, closer than it was before this ordeal began. The wave has actually driven you closer to the shore rather than pulling you further out, away from safety. You see your family laying on the beach smiling at you (or wildly laughing) because you just acted like you were drowning in 3 feet of water. You make your way to the beach chair and begin to look at your casualties. Yes, there is a cut - maybe 2 drops of blood (water always magnifies), and you think about how scared you were but realize that suddenly you are back on solid ground and the things you hold most dear in life are there beside you (still laughing I might add) but they are there.
This is where I am in life right now. Here, at the later stage of life (especially for my husband), we are feeling like we have been hit by the tidal wave of life. Yesterday was one of those days where we were neither sinking or floating a top the crest of the wave, we were just kind of bobbing in the waters. When out of the blue we got a phone call telling us that after 26 years of faithful service to the little hospital my husband works at, he was completely released of his job, he and his entire department. They decided to go in a different direction and not take him back as part of a department he founded. Within seconds I felt like I was being pounded into the rocky sand, head held under water, not sure if I would take a breath of clean fresh air ever again.
I knew I wasn't bleeding, but trust me, the waters around me are teaming with sharks! When I felt like I had finally resurfaced and could breath again, we began to do what we do best...pray. It's a vital part of our life. We know God is with us in ALL we do, and although this felt as uncomfortable as it did, we knew and continue to know that He will be with us until the very end. I think back on the past 26 years and all that we have been through. We have never been spared our share of suffering. We have gone through the death of a child, Jim's 12 yr old son, Jed. We have seen our son Dalton diagnosed and then healed of cancer. We have lost a restaurant to very unscrupulous people and paid back a debt they ran up under our name. We have just gone through Jim's cancer but have seen him have FULL recovery.
In each of these events I have noticed a pattern. God got us through each and every event. He is a good God, He doesn't bring us half way and bail out on us, He see's us through to the end of each new trial and tidal wave. He really does run the race with us, and HE ALWAYS finishes the race.
This morning while reading my bible and doing my morning prayers I was talking with God in my usual way. I was telling Him that I felt really dejected for what transpired last night. He had given me such peace, only 2 weeks earlier. I told Him that although I love Him with all my heart I was beginning to think that this closeness I claim to have with Him must somehow be fabricated in my mind, maybe it's not His small still voice that prompts me - but rather my own. In that moment I picked up my book, Grace (the one I always feels He gives me a date to read), and that small voice said, "Turn to July 8th."
As usual, I did what I was prompted to do. The reading was about Paul and the title reads, He Kept the Faith. The verse was: Continue to have faith and do what you know is right. Some people have rejected this, and their faith has been shipwrecked. 1 Timothy 1:19
Last night I was sending a message to a faithful friend who has proven to be an incredible prayer warrior. I told her that I didn't want to lose my faith and jump ship. Reading these words this morning, once again, tears began welling up in my eyes, slightly stinging like the salty ocean waters. I know that without a shadow of a doubt my God hears me...He knows my heart, hears my prayers, loves me and will see me through. The waves are strong right now, but I know Jesus can calm any storm in my life. I have handed Him the reigns and I know we will make it safely to the shore.
In today's reading, these verses were in what I read. And again I say, "God is just way cool!"
In You O Lord, I have taken refuge, let me never be ashamed; in Your righteousness deliver me. Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold and save me. Psalm 31:1-2
I am the Lord who holds your right hand, and I tell you, "Don't be afraid, I will help you."
Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today....The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still. Exodus 14: 13-14