(Originally written 2011)
Before starting this trip south I had a lot of emotions happening – anger, frustration, excitement, grief, anxiety. I felt overwhelmed with all of that, and so I focused on what I could control – the packing, organizing of school, getting the schedule straight, and so forth. The problem is, that while I really did enjoy the first couple of weeks on this trip, I knew something was wrong inside. It was as if instead of facing many of those feelings that had been hitting me like a constant barrage, I just didn’t feel at all. No low points. No high points. But not in a good “I’m not being swayed by my emotions and totally focusing on God” way. Just a void.
I didn’t even realize it. I mean, I knew something was wrong – but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I didn’t even know how to pray. My prayers have consisted of, “Protect my kids, guard their hearts and minds,” “Please, please, please provide the funding we need to go to Africa,” and “Protect us in our journeys.” None of these are bad things – I know God desires all those things and he loves us to ask. But the joy, the relationship, the thankfulness has been missing.
Yesterday it was almost 80 and absolutely gorgeous outside here! (Don’t be hating!) We went to what we affectionately call “the Alligator Place,” also known to most people as “Savannah Wildlife Center.” It is a 5 mile drive through a beautiful wildlife area filled with birds of all sorts, crabs, fish, snakes, turtles, armadillos, deer – you name it. Our favorite is the alligators. And there have been times that we have seen as many as 50+ in a trip. However, being January, we didn’t really expect to see any. It was amazing weather, though, and so at the first stop I got out and decided to walk. It’s a great time of year for birds that have migrated south, and the place was swarming with them. Occasionally one of the kids would hop out and walk with me, but usually Shawn just drove really slow (with the van door open – the kids thought it was great) and I tagged along behind.
I love the water. I love the sun. I love being in a place where His creation is so alive and abundant. And suddenly, my heart was stirring. I started praying and thanking and thinking of scripture and praying some more. I was in awe of the nature and I thought, “You are an artist!” And I knew, in a heartbeat, that he did this for me.
I’m not arrogant to think he did it only for me. But I knew that he would have done it only for me. You always hear that about the work on the cross, and I am not downplaying that. But this – this majesty, this splendor, the warmth and beauty – this is the work of an artist who took great joy in making it for me to see at that moment in that time. I could feel his pleasure in my pleasure. I burst out with, “I love you,” and was surprised to see how much I meant it. God and I have a lot of honest talks, and in that I don’t always feel as though I love and trust him. He allows me to say those things, and loves and and works all things for my good anyway. But right that moment I knew, and I wanted to tell him over and over again – so I did.
“I love you, Daddy! You are amazing! Look at this! I love you!”
Today as we went to the ocean there was a storm coming in, and I could once again feel his presence. This time it wasn’t that warm, giddy feeling. I was very aware of his power – his deep, incomprehensible nature and love, his foreverness. The ocean is such a symbol of that to me, and today with the storm coming, it was beautiful and drew me to it’s edge. Yet is is dangerous in that you don’t always know what to expect with it. Things will not always go according to your plan with the ocean – there are undercurrents and tides that can take you and turn everything upside down in a matter of seconds. You can’t see the depth, and if you want a glimpse of it, you have to be willing to risk dive in deep. And then it can be so murky sometimes that you have to go by faith. That is relationship with God. Sometimes scary and unclear, but always powerful. Always real.
In both of these days he showed himself to me with feelings that were clear and strong. He also answered every little prayer. When I asked to see gators close enough to take pictures (but far enough away to be safe) he provided 6 of them! 6! In January! One even had a dead dear and was rolling it and feeding! What a neat thing to see! When I asked for something cool today, He showed me pelicans perched in the waves bobbing up and down, dry sand blowing across the wet sand looking like a mysterious haze, shells and fossils, and skies brilliant blue one day and dark and foreboding the next.
My Dad is GOOD!
How amazing is that?