“O my child, I am coming to you walking on the waters of the sorrows of your life; yes, above the sounds of the storm you shall hear My voice call your name”
– Come Away My Beloved, Frances J. Roberts
We had looked forward to this vacation for months. My family loves the beach. I so enjoy watching my kids play there. My daughter loves to observe the sea life. One of my favorite images is of her, laying on her belly, sandy feet up, examining her latest find. My son runs his legs off, up and down the shore. He loves to chase the birds and dig in the sand. This year, he was delighted with his new board, and announced he is now ready to “boogie”. He graduated from a baby board to a big one. So much growth in the span of a year. So many wonderful memories we have from our trips to the beach. And this year, we almost missed out on more because a storm was coming.
Headed right toward us.
We were so discouraged by the reports on Hurricane Erika. She was moving powerfully, destructively, through the islands off the coast. Mud slides, floods, deaths. Her dangerous path devastated each place she touched, and she was getting a little too close for our comfort. We were alarmed to learn she was expected to hit the coast of Florida by the weekend – the same weekend we were set to arrive at the beach. The weather reports were not good. Solid rain, thunder, lightning. We didn’t know the protocol for a hurricane threat, and wondered if we’d even be allowed on the island. And, if we were, would we want to be there?
We prayed about it, and continued to monitor the situation. We considered canceling or going someplace else, the opposite direction. I checked the beaches all the way up the East coast. I have to laugh now at the thought of us trying to outrun the storm. Far enough North to not get the rain, yet South enough to get the warm temperatures. It was a gamble, at best. In the end, we decided to head that direction and see what developed overnight, at our half way point. By the next morning, Erika had changed course and was losing power. Good news and answered prayers. The weather still forecasted doom and gloom for our week but we felt we had to at least try to go as planned. So off we went, hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.
I am happy to report our beach trip was better than anticipated. I praised God all week for allowing us to have this vacation time together. In weathering the storm, I learned some things about life too. As I walked the beach the morning after one of the worst storms, I noticed debris everywhere. Piles of broken sticks, coughed up like giant fur balls, littered the shores.
I kept hearing, “weather the storm” in my spirit as I weaved through the ruins purged from the sea. Our beautiful beach looked ugly, wrecked by heaps of brokenness. I wondered if it would ever be the same again as I quietly sat – listening and watching. God’s word to Elijah came to mind, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by”. Elijah stood, listening, waiting, try to make sense of his life. “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks….but the Lord was not in the wind” (1 Kings 19:11). After the wind, came an earthquake, followed by a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in those either. Finally, a “gentle whisper” came to Elijah. When he heard it, “he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:13). The Lord’s question caused Elijah to examine his life. I found myself doing the same in the quiet aftermath of the storm. Each crash of the waves seemed to wash over my worn soul and whisper renewed hope. Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living”. Weathering the storm is necessary if we are to hear the whispers that follow it.
Everything about us wants to “duck and run” when trouble rises. But what if it is only by sticking it out, through the storm, that we learn who it is that commands them? Jesus said, “It is I, do not be afraid” to his disciples, who were desperately trying to row a way out. Instead, What if we put down our oars, take a breath, and trust the Lord of the Sea to steer our ship? To the storm, Jesus said, “Be quiet!” Who is this King of Glory that even the tossing waves settle at His command? Have you stood through your storm long enough to hear the whispers rise in the settling?
We live in a world where storms are common, and deadly. Where three-year-old little boys wash up on shore; a life dashed, along with our hope of ever finding a refuge far from the storm. We cringe, we fear, we instinctively turn away. No one wants to face the harsh reality in the wake of the storm. It’s ugly, and life is different on the other side. But there is a sacred rhythm at work in the wreckage. The waves of His love continue to heal and restore life. I noticed, by the end of the week, most of the debris was gone, and a new path had emerged. A path still bearing the scars of the storm. A solemn, yet sure, sign of survival. I knew it then: the purging had been necessary. I felt it in my soul – new space, with room to breathe, move, grow, change. I had heard Him whisper in the washing of the waters. His love, like a siren sounding above the noise of my life; peace falling on me, wave upon wave. The surface glittered like radiant diamonds on my last morning there, a treasure out of the darkness. I turned back toward the hallowed ground of my storm-tossed life with a renewed sense of courage; made brave in the breaking of His Sovereign Hand.
As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in
You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way
More photo “treasures” from my trip:
Top: a seagull in flight, whispers, “look at the birds, Your heavenly Father cares for you”
2nd: a hibiscus in bloom, says “see the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin”
3rd: the reeds of the marsh, whisper “a bruised reed He will not break”.
Last: The palm trees shout, “Hosanna!”