Yesterday started out perfectly. It was day #4 of our vacation in Destin. My mother in law had come with us and my father in law was to fly down mid week (Wednesday). We were so very excited to have them with us and just have some hang out time with them--something that just doesn't get to happen as much as we'd like it to with our busy lives. Eric was especially excited about spending time with his dad. So far, we had had the most relaxing and enjoyable time. We had settled into our routine--beach, pool, lunch and more beach. Thus far, the weather had been beautiful. This morning proved no exception. The water was crystal clear--there was hardly a cloud in the sky. A perfect beach day. Eric and I started the morning off running together, something we rarely get to do, but were able to because my mother in law was at the house with our kids. We completed our run, had breakfast, played some Uno on the front porch, got ready for the beach, life was good.
We got to the beach, set up our stuff and did our 'thing'. Rode the waves, looked for shells, played in the sand, played some wiffle ball, watched our 18 month old throw some fits...just a typical day. But, life can change in a blink of an eye. My mother in law's phone rang. She looked panic stricken and motioned for Eric. I was a ways down the beach with Sophie and Jeremiah collecting seashells. Eric yelled for me and I could tell by the urgency of his voice and arm motions that something terrible had happened. It seemed to take forever to get to him, all the while my mind was plagued with terrible thoughts of what it could be. When I finally reached Eric he gave me the news that his uncle had died--his dad's brother. His dad was the youngest of five boys. This was his only brother that had still been living--his other three brothers were already deceased. We stood there trying to absorb the shock and did what only seemed to be fitting in that very moment--we held hands and prayed. We prayed for the wife who is now without her husband, the son who is now without his dad, the brother who is now without his siblings. In a moment, our entire day and entire vacation had changed.
Numbly, we packed up our stuff and went back to our beach house. We spent the next few hours on the phone with the airlines, trying to find the most cost effective way to get my mother in law home. We finally found a flight for the following day. Once all of the phone calls had been made, the rest of the day was surreal. We tried to go back to our normal activities. You know-- beach, pool and beach. But somehow it just felt weird. We were on a vacation and so we were supposed to vacate. But yesterday I couldn't vacate all of the questions that bombarded my mind: Why, Lord? Why did this man have to die and leave behind a wife, a son, a daughter in law, a brother, amongst many others? Why did this have to happen, now? Why couldn't my father-in-law have come to Florida and relax for a few days with us rather than have to now go through this? Why, why, why??? My thoughts drifted further...why did my mother have to die the way she did? Why did Stephen Curtis Chapman's daughter have to be taken in such a quick, tragic manner? Why, Why, Why??? Sadness, frustration and anger wrestled within me as we went about our regularly scheduled vacation plans....
This morning, as I did my bible study, I felt the Lord's love pour over me like a well needed shower. As He has been teaching me over these last six months, I am not always going to get my 'why' answers answered. God's ways are not our ways and we will never know the answer to sad things that happen. We will never know or understand God's timing. But one thing I have learned through and through: God walks through the sadness with us. Faith is trusting that God will walk with us up the mountain side--it doesn't mean it won't be rough terrain at times. It doesn't mean that you can't talk to him about how much you don't like it, but it does mean that you are willing to walk step by step 'with' Him. I was reminded this morning that I can choose to throw in the towel and say forget it and turn around and find my own way up the mountain. Or I can choose to walk with Him. I am beginning to learn through experience that He gives us a supernaturally joy through the heartache and disappointments if we choose to stick by Him. This morning, I was actually able to thank the Lord for the present circumstances and to say 'I trust that Your way is the best way, no matter what.' I am thankful. I am trusting God in difficult circumstances. I am resting in God's perfect plan.
"...but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5