Saturday, April 28, 2018

My Old Friend, The Sea ~ Part 2

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
2 Peter 1:4
(KJV)

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about a post I published here on April 28, 2015,
just three years, to the day, after my dear Mom left this world to be with Jesus.
Since beginning to write this post, it hit me with force, that today is exactly, to the day,
three years after I published that post called, "My Old Friend, The Sea."

God recently kept the promise I shared in that post, and He let my dear husband and son and me return to that same spot, just like He said He would.
His words did not fail, and when we arrived, my dear old friend, the sea, was still there.
Steadfast.
Unchanging.
Faithful.
The same as before.

This was the sunrise view we woke up to one glorious morning.
The talks I had with Jesus on that balcony every day were beyond precious to my hungry soul.

Tonight, I went back and re-read that original post, and once again, I listened to Nicole Mullen sing, My Redeemer Lives.



As I listened to Nicole and re-read the words God spoke to me three years ago while listening to the ocean waves crash against that sandy shore, I had an epiphany.
I knew, in an instant, that my Redeemer, God Himself, had orchestrated this trip down memory lane.

I hold to a strong belief that there is great significance in dates.
I find it remarkable the way He coordinated all of this...
today being the 6th anniversary of Mom's homegoing and the 3rd anniversary of the night I completed and published the post I started in that 12th-floor hotel room overlooking the sea.

Six years ago tonight, I stood holding the precious, frail, tender hand of the one who loved me longest.
That dear, selfless, fragile, loving, little hand!
Oh, the stories it could have told of the countless tears it had wiped away,
the meals it had prepared and cooked,
the babies and grandbabies it had fed and cared for and nurtured,
the countless times it had reached over and patted my hand as we traveled along together many a mile and side by side,
the times it had picked up the phone to call and check on us and encourage and share Bible verses God had given her just for me,
the many nights it had wave good-bye as Zach and I pulled out of her drive!

My mother's hand.
That kind and loving hand of my sweet Mom rested in mine until the life slipped right out of her body, and it lay limp under the onslaught of my tears.
I stood there afterward, for I don't know how long.

I'm missing her tonight...exactly six years later.
Oh, I miss her!
There are no words.

And, tonight, six years after she left us and three years after I published the post about My Old Friend, The Sea, I find myself comparing and finding so many similarities between tonight and those other two memorable nights on this same date.

Mom's leaving brought about immeasurable change and left what felt like a black-hole, unfillable void.
After God took her, I went into a very dark place for a very long time.
Yes, Christians do get depressed.
They grieve and mourn and lament.
Whoever said they don't surely must have no experience reading the book of Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, or Lamentations.
They must have never met David or Elijah or Solomon or Jonah or Jeremiah.
They must never have traveled with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane.
They truly must not have a clue as to the fact that salvation does not remove our humanity or our susceptibility to its condition.

Three years ago, my little family and I stood on another brink of life-altering change.
I still remember very vividly the events that were taking place in our lives on 4/28/2015.
We were, at that moment, in the throes of a nightmarish identity theft crisis, and God was redeeming the intense fiery trial to sound a deafening, much-needed wake-up call.
We heard it loud and clear, and it spawned a stirring in our spirit.
The winds of inevitable change were beginning to blow, and we knew that after our lives staying pretty much the same for many years, God was getting ready to give us a not-so-soft nudge from our comfort zone nest and require us to launch into brand new levels of trusting Him.

As I read the words He spoke to me three years ago, I find that I need them as much, maybe even more, now.
The last three years have been quite the experience for Kevin, Zach, and me.
If you had prophesied on 4/28/15 and shared all that we would walk through between that night and this, I honestly think every ounce of my courage would have completely failed.
Through every labored inch of it, though, God has been faithful.
An overwhelming sense of renewed awe for my Abba Father washes over me, as once again I am incapable of understanding or adequately praising Him for the trustworthiness of His providential care.
He has seen us through, praise His wonderful name.

Tonight, on this date of such significance, we stand again in a state of much uncertainty,
still pleading with Him for the clarity we so desperately need,
still clinging to His ever-faithful, unchanging hand.
Nearly every day I am reminded of Joshua's words in Joshua 3:3-4,
“As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it.  Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”

We definitely have not passed this way before, and we are in dire need of God's direction.
Our eyes are upon "the Ark", and we are endeavoring to walk lock-step in obedience to His every command.
God help us not to crowd His space, nor to lag too far behind.
I feel like I need Him more than I ever have in my whole life and 41-year journey following Him.

As I waited quietly and still before Him moments before we left our hotel the other day,
I heard Him whisper another promise to me.
"The three of you will come back.  The sea will still be here, and I will still be God."
My belief in this fact gives me the courage to press on.
The same One who has kept the ocean's waters at bay since their creation by His mighty hand,
the same One who has not allowed the circumstances of our lives to overtake us thus far,
He is the same God we serve today.
He is the same God we will follow all the days of our lives, by His grace.
He is still in control.
He knew 3 years ago all that would hit us out of nowhere (to us) and threaten to destroy us.
None of it came as a surprise to Him because He sees the end from the beginning and everything in between.
Nothing ever hits Him out of nowhere.
He is God.
Omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent.
Nothing escapes Him.

He already knows what will happen next.
Tomorrow, that seems so perplexing to us, is not a mystery to Him.
He is the God of all of our tomorrows.

In this ever-changing, chaotic world below, there is a God who remains,
and He longs to be our all in all.

For those who crave stability, He is the Rock of Ages.
"Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock."
Isaiah 26:4 (ESV)

For those who long for a place to run and hide, He is a safe place.
"Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues."
Psalm 31:20 (KJV)

For those who are under attack, He is a protector.
"But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one."
2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NASB)

For those who are depressed, He is very near.
"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed."
Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

For those who can no longer fight, He is a champion.
"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them."
Deuteronomy 33:27 (KJV)

For those who have been betrayed, He is the truest friend.
"The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him."
Nahum 1:7 (KJV)

For those who fear the future, He is already there.
"Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV)

I will be honest and say that I do not know or see our next step,
nor have I ever walked more by faith and not by sight.
But, the Lord my God goes before and with me, and I will choose to put my trust in Him.
No matter what you are going through, will you choose to do the same?

24 comments:

  1. So many memories and such love pouring out to God here in these words.
    I'm approaching the first anniversary of my own mum's passing, so I'm reading your reflections with a lot more understanding than I would have this time last year.
    Blessings to you, sweet friend.

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    1. Oh, dear friend! I am SO sorry for the loss of your precious Mum! The journey is beyond difficult, and there have been so many moments I didn't know how I would put one foot in front of the other. The one thing that remained steadfast through every one of those steps is the faithfulness of God. Jesus walked every step, and when I couldn't walk beside Him, He carried me through. My heart goes out to you as you navigate through the many stages of grief. Sending much love and many hugs to you today!

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  2. What a beautiful, honest, loving outpouring of emotions, Cheryl. You speak such truth, and share such pertinent verses, of which I am thankful for. I am learning (as we are lifelong learners) to TRUST and have FAITH Ii Our Heavenly Father, who know all things.
    Have a wonderful week, sweet friend.

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    1. Thank you ever so much, my friend! I am so grateful for your sweet visit and kind words. You are so right, we are lifelong learners, and there are surely so many levels to trusting God. He will continue to teach as long as we remain teachable and low before Him. How I cherish times spent at His feet! Praying for you faithfully and trusting God to bless you today!

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  3. Dearest Cheryl, Such a powerful post and a testimony of God's faithfulness through it all. You were blessed to have your mom for so long and such a close relationship. My mom has been gone for when I was 22 and still so immature. It would have been nice to know her as an adult and as a believer. I am so thankful that He guides our next steps and covers us with His love.
    Hugs and prayers to you dear one!
    Noreen

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    1. Oh, dear friend! I am SO sorry you lost your dear Mom so early in life! You have lost out on so much, and it is so hard to understand why she had to be taken so young. Yes, I truly am so blessed that I was able to have Mom until I was 45 years old. Looking back over our lives, I find it amazing that God allowed her to stay with us that long, and I am truly, truly grateful for every moment He let us be together. One of the biggest things I look forward to about Heaven is that there will be no more goodbyes...they are SO hard down here. I am praying for you today and trusting Jesus to bless you. :) You are such a dear blessing to me!

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  4. Such a powerful testimony my dear Cheryl. I sometimes wonder the why’s and where’s of the trials the God Has us pass through. I’m in one of those times myself and I find myself in tears often. But, He is always with me, and you, in all we endure. Much love and many blessings to you and your sweet family. I remember you in my prayers daily.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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    1. Dear, sweet Betsy! I am so very sorry you are in a time of such trial and vale of tears! Oh, my heart goes out to you so much, for I truly understand. I don't know what we would do or where we would turn without the dear Lord. Surely, He is our constant stay and source of hope! You are so right, He is with us in all we endure. That is a wonderful way of putting that into words. Endure is something I do not want to do, but knowing He is there in those hard places surely makes it bearable, somehow. I am praying for you faithfully, too, and you will never know how much my family and I appreciate your precious prayers for us. Sending much love to you today!

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  5. Dear Cheryl,
    I am so blessed that God fulfilled His promise and brought you back to the sea, speaking tenderly again to you there. He does know how to bring such merciful gifts to us, at just the right time, doesn't He? Oh, how your words and the Scriptures you shared blessed me tonight, in my own time of trusting when I cannot see the way ahead. Thank you so much for sharing this! I am continuing to hold you in my prayers dear friend. May the Lord open the way before you! Blessings, love and hugs to you!

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    1. Oh, how blessed I felt, too, dear friend! The minute I looked out on that same, steadfast, unchanging sea, His promise came back to me, and oh, was I ever grateful! It brings me to tears to think of how faithful our God is, especially when I am reminded of how fickle I can be, in return. I am SO thankful the words and Scriptures encouraged and blessed you. I am thinking of you and your burdens often and faithfully praying for you. Your prayers for us are an invaluable gift...I am SO thankful God places all of us in each other's lives to pray for one another! It is truly the best thing we can do for each other. Sending blessings, love, and hugs back to you today, dear friend!

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  6. Hi Cheryl, it's Su Ann . Another great and heartfelt post. I always like when you have Bible verses included. I admit, I fit in all the categories you listed ��
    Your openness is appreciated .God loves you and God's Not Dead!

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    1. Oh, how I love the Word of God, too! It is a soothing balm to the soul in all times of trouble. Bless your heart, I am so sorry for all you are going through. I am continuing to faithfully pray, dear friend. Please keep encouraged, and know that God is surely on your side, and He is carrying you through it all. Thank you for your encouragement and support and the reminder of God's love. He loves you, too, and yes, praise His name, He is alive and well and still in FULL power and control!! Sending hugs your way!

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  7. Oh precious friend...as I read the last part of your post, the lyrics to the song, "Oceans" came into my mind....

    "You call me out upon the waters
    The great unknown where feet may fail
    And there I find You in the mystery
    In oceans deep
    My faith will stand

    And I will call upon Your name
    And keep my eyes above the waves
    When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
    For I am Yours and You are mine

    Your grace abounds in deepest waters
    Your sovereign hand
    Will be my guide
    Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
    You've never failed and You won't start now

    So I will call upon Your name
    And keep my eyes above the waves
    When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
    For I am Yours and You are mine

    I can only imagine the uncertainty at this point in your life but I also know (and you do too) that God is certain to take care of your family! He wants to take you to another place and He will sustain you!

    Yesterday (April 30) was the 8th anniversary of my sweet mother's going home to be with Jesus. She was nearly 98 and lived a full, long life. We never stop missing them....ever. Sending love, prayers and hugs to you, dear friend.♥

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    1. Oh, sweet friend! Your precious words move me to tears! I LOVE that song...I never really saw the words typed out like that, and I wasn't sure all it said, but I can't even believe how appropriate these words are to our situation right now. When God told us to launch out into the deep in 2015, we had NO idea how deep He would really take us or how completely He would require us to let go of the shorelines and every, single safety net we ever had. He told us He wants to be our "all in all", and as I look back now, I see how, one by one, He has required us to relinquish each one of the things we had placed our trust in. I can't thank you enough for your precious encouragement, friendship, and support. You are such a blessing to me. I am SO sorry for your loss of your dear Mom. You are right, we NEVER stop missing them. Sending much love, prayers, and hugs back to you, my friend. Praying for you faithfully!

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  8. Cheryl.. As I read this,I felt the tears flowing down my cheeks.. I could see my own frail mama who is suffering with dementia.. So very sad..
    Your mom being with Jesus..Oh what a blessing, and what a great family reunion you and your family will have one day..Your mom will be waiting with open arms.
    My husbands mom was 102 when she died [2 yrs ago]..She never lost her memory,Knew her kids until the day of her homecoming. .Such a blessing . It was sad to see her go, But knowing that home coming will make the heart feel better, doesn't it?
    Thank you for the wonderful post. God is so good. hugs.

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    1. Oh, dear friend! I am so sorry for what you and your dear mama are going through! It is just heart-wrenching, and there just are no words to express the hurt. YES, one day we will all be there together in Glory with Jesus, and there will be sickness, no pain, no sorrow, no dementia, no goodbyes, and God Himself will wipe away our tears. Yes, it surely does make the heart feel better when we know they will be there waiting for us. I can only imagine...LOVE that song. It was played at my dear Mom's funeral and also for my dear brother-in-law, LD's service. If we knew what they are seeing and experiencing now, we wouldn't bring them back...but, it sure hurts to miss them and long for them here. Sending big hugs to you and your sweet mama today, my friend. God is with you.

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  9. Oh Dear Cheryl, Such a wonderful testimony of God's faithfulness. Amazing at what we think we cannot stand or take in this life but yet with Christ, we can do all things through Him who gives us strength. Only God can carry us through the trials of life, the dark times. I am so glad to hear you say, YES Christians get depressed. We mourn, we grieve. Thank you for sharing with us your heart. Your words always melt my heart. I love the song Debby Ray shared with you in her reply. It is beautiful. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

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    1. Oh, you are so right, sweet friend. We say we can't take anymore, and we can't get through this or that, but with Jesus by our side, we somehow make it through and keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. Yes, ma'am, we certainly do get depressed. It is such a lie of the enemy to think that after we start following Jesus we are somehow exempt from human emotions and the human condition. Your kind words and sweet visits are precious to me, and I am so grateful to you. I love the song Debby shared, too...it is SO descriptive of our lives right now. Sending hugs and blessings back to you today!!

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  10. No such thing as coincidences, sister. Glad you got to make the trip and be blessed. Life isn't easy, Christ told us it wouldn't be, but He carries us when we can't carry ourselves.

    Love that picture... it's stunning. What a wonderful day it will be to meet one another's parents...

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    1. My mouth about fell open when I read your words, "He carries us when we can't carry ourselves." He has been showing me that so plainly over the past few days! I always feel like I need "a step" in front of me, and when I don't have one, I become so frustrated. He just showed me the other day that the reason I don't have a step in front of me to take is because the next steps are steps that HE has to take, and He is carrying me. Thank you for your kind words...I leaned out as far as I could over the balcony that morning to snap that photo. Yes, it will surely be a wonderful to meet one another's parents. What a day it will be when we all get home! God bless you, brother. You are such a blessing to us. I am praying for you faithfully.

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  11. I love the symbolism of following behind the ark, neither too close nor too far behind!
    Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith....
    I'm so glad that you got to have this special time of rest again by the sea. What a wonderful place to be still and know that He is God! :)
    "The LORD bless you and keep you, the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you and give you peace."

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    1. YES, my friend, I just love that passage. I think often of it, as we beg the precious Holy Spirit to reveal His perfect will and keep us that exact, safe distance. Thank you for your kind words and sweet visit. You always encourage my heart! Sending love and hugs to you!

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  12. Dear Cheryl. There is so much here. I know you have been through a lot.
    Dates - that can be strange sometimes. For the most part I don't particularly notice those things. But one very odd thing that happened to us was that we "accidentally" got married exactly 6 years to the day from when my husband first asked if he could court me! I didn't actually read his request that day since he had asked through my dad, and when I did I turned him down that first time too. :-) But, it was really interesting that the Lord brought us to our wedding on the self-same date - Oct. 28th.

    I also thought of this poem. It is one of the hardest of Annie's poems to do, but I think of it sometimes:

    God's Will Be Done

    "His Will Be Done,"
    We say with sighs and trembling,
    Expecting trial, bitter loss and tears.
    And then how doth He answer us?
    With blessings,
    And sweet rebuking of our faithless fears.
    God's Will is peace and plenty
    And the power to be,
    And have the best that He can give:
    A mind to serve Him, a heart to love,
    And faith to die and the strength to live.
    It means for us all good,
    All grace, all glory;
    His Kingdom coming and on Earth begun.
    Why should we fear to say,
    "His Will, His righteous,
    His tender, loving, joyous Will be done!"?

    - Annie Johnson Flint

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    1. Wow, what a poem, Mary! Thank you so much for sharing this. Oh, I am learning SO much more about sinking into the will of God! His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts, and His ways and ours will always be so far apart, also. That is SO interesting about the dates correlating concerning your wedding and courtship! I have been taking note a lot lately about dates and looking back, tracing God's hands over the details of my life so far, and I am amazed at the significance of dates in all the processes of life. I wish I had time to share a lot of it with you. Thank you for being such a faithful friend, supporter, and encourager to me. I appreciate you dearly. May God bless you!

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