I have spent a lot of my life’s journey looking for quiet, beautiful spots where I could sit, see and sense God’s presence around me – like I feel it within me. On a mountain top, the oceans edge, a forest’s knoll, at a river’s side in their quiet I am captivated by majesty, held by awe and swept up in communication with the Lover of my soul. What I hear, see and feel is Truth and He satisfies and it carries me hours, days and years after I leave.
However in our busy lives, it is tempting to celebrate that beauty and others and then walk away with a snapshot and your friends without looking back. You made a memory but by bypassing the Maker you miss God moments and you never know when you are going to need the strength that could have been found there.
The photo above was taken July 29, 2016. At Heber Springs on the tall jumping cliffs. That is where I wrote these words:
Ahhh i finally found an uncrowded spot. I find it so odd that a place can be so crowded during the heat of the day and just when God shows up with a flash of glory to close out the day…. Everyone is gone!! They missed it!
They missed it but I didn’t. I had sought out the quiet and the Lord to pause, pray and refill. And it was beautiful and refreshing. But how was I to know that in 283 days I would return to this exact same spot. At the same time. With the same alluring sun setting across the lake’s waters. And sit not enjoying a word from the Lord but wrestling with Him there. The Lord was there but there was also a very uncomfortable gnawing… a tearing in my heart and I didn’t want to be there.
But I stayed trying to come to peace with the explainable churning inside me and as the sun dipped down to close out the day two geese suddenly came gliding directly over the cliffs and water headed toward the western horizon. But even that did not still my heart, in fact, I became even more frustrated because in their wake was one little bird no bigger than a finch or chickadee energetically flapping its wings in a teetering push to keep pace with them.
What in the world was it thinking! This was a very long stretch of open water. The next place to rest was so far ahead ahead and there was no place to stop in the middle. And that wasn’t it’s family. They were regal looking and equipped for such journeys. That lil fella should of took the shore route. He looked sadly out of place… kinda pathetic following in their wake. I wasn’t sure he could even make it. It was so out of place so … wrong.
I watched however until I could see them no longer. Then I rose still flustered and yanked up my blanket, IPOD, Bible and bag and marched into the growing dusk. Without a clue what any of that was about – feeling at odds within my Spirit instead of complete – I threw myself and my stuff into Lenny’s red Ford intent upon moving past the chaos this journey had brought to a head within me.
Sliding pass the dam I went to the old Highway 25 campground and did a drive through looking for campsites where I could see the water and Lenny would have an easy access to and from the water in his kayak. Next get-a-way trip, next time. And that thought made me happy… finally.
It still wasn’t completely dark when I pulled back into our campsite below the dam yet the darkness and weight of the afternoon on the cliffs was something I couldn’t escape. Little did I realize as I got out of the truck and dropped my stuff in the camper that the uncomfortable journey that I had been on earlier was only the start. That Lenny was gone. I wouldn’t hear him call me Babe again. He wouldn’t spoon with me when we went to bed that evening. His heart had beat its last and he was… gone.
The Red River didn’t take him. God did.
It would be hours before they recovered his body but in the stillness alongside that river the Lord stopped preparing me, told me he was gone and to call family, then He just held me as the numbness and waves of pain swept over me.
The wrestling on that cliff in 2017 was as real as the peace I had found in 2016. Because all that is within me is His and He is where His children are.
You see we do not have to journey alone but we have this incredible, beautiful opportunity to walk with the One who knows and prepares us for life here, on this side of eternity. Even on that afternoon where my heart could not find peace with His own, He was preparing me for what was in that moment going to be my reality. He was walking me toward the greatest loss of my life… the death of my husband.
But as a believer I know He is sovereign and I trust He is good. So good that even now Facebook can flash this memory from 2016 and I can see geese heading into the horizon followed by one soul eager to arrive with them to the promised shore. I can feel the weight of the wrestling that night but… I can also see and understand the grip that refused to release me in 2017, as He was enfolded me in arms of love and supplied me with the strength for the hours and days ahead.
My heartfelt suggestion: Don’t walk past those places and moments where God lingers. All He is… you will need for the road ahead. Most days are sweet, common reminders of love, grace and mercy but each life will have the days when it will need all of who He is to get through all that lies ahead.
Stop and embrace moments with your Maker and Grab hold of Grace for your journey.