“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30
The two pictures I’m posting above were taken on the island of Aruba, December 2017. My husband and I had taken a weeklong cruise to the Southern Caribbean for the purpose of celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.
The solitary tree in the first picture was a far cry from the pines trees of East Texas or the live oaks of Central Texas. It was unlike any tree I had ever seen before—so uniquely beautiful, as it stood alone on the pristine white sandy beach in Aruba. When I saw the tree, I thought to myself, “That’s how I feel. So alone.”
This beautiful tree sits along a smooth and gorgeous shoreline. Around it, there is beauty everywhere you look. No doubt, this tree has been a perfect resting place for many choosing to take the steps toward it—to lie under it, as they closed their eyes, and listened to the sound of the ocean.
The second picture was taken on the opposite side of the island of Aruba. There, the shoreline is very rocky. Waves continuously crash against the rock formations in a beauty all its own. However, unlike the solitary tree on the other side of the island, it would not be a good resting place for any length of time. When we visited this side of the island, we snapped some pictures as we talked about the extreme contrast of the East and West shorelines of Aruba, and then we returned to the peaceful side.
To be honest, this cruise trip was taken because I was in desperate need of getting away to rest and spend time with God. I didn’t feel much like celebrating anything. I’m sure my husband felt the same way, too. We were both worn out physically, emotionally, and in some aspects, spiritually.
It had been a year since our daughter, Shelly had gone to Heaven. We were still reeling from the trauma of her death as well as the 17 1/2 months of her severe illness prior to her passing. During that time, my main focus had been to do my part in taking care of my precious girl, and her youngest child, Sophie. Oh, it hurt beyond description, but still there’s no other place I’d rather have been—that of being with Shelly every single day, trying my hardest to lighten her load—making meals, hoping and praying that she could eat just a little bit, cleaning house, transporting her wherever she needed to go for treatments, and many other tasks. Quite often Shelly and I would just sit, talk, laugh, cry, pray, or watch HGTV together. I wish we had been able to do that part more. For this mother, it was a gut wrenching, yet wonderful time that we were able to spend together, and I will always thank God for giving me this gift.
The first year after Shelly’s death, I had very little time to spend with the Lord each day or to stop and savor any aspect of a normal life. I had assumed the “mother” role for Shelly’s 5-year old daughter. Now, I was not only Sophie’s grandmother, I was her substitute mother. It was a bittersweet time, to put it mildly. I grieved and missed my daughter more than I can say. Yet, I loved being with Sophie. At her young age, she definitely needed a female nurturer, and I was it.
It had been my honor to help Shelly as I did, but physically and emotionally, I was very weak. Frankly, I was traumatized. Spiritually, during that time, I had never stopped clinging to the deep faith that I possess. At times I couldn’t pray, but I felt the prayers of others, which was so comforting.
Friends, the reality of this life is that there have been, and are going to be times in our lives when the waves come crashing in. Being human, we wonder how we’re going to be able to withstand the battering from the rough seas they produce. But somehow, we survive. And we realize that God allows storms to come into our lives for reasons we might never understand, especially the timing of these storms. During those times, we may even feel alone as I did, and sometimes still do. But our trust and faith helps us to stand. We learn to lean on Jesus more and more. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a good plan for us. Therefore, when trials, heartaches, and sorrows come, He has already prepared the way for us to make it through and to be stronger for having gone through those times. He will take us back to the smooth side of the island.
Whatever season of life you are experiencing at this time—whatever you may be going through physically, emotionally, or spiritually, just look at the solitary tree—something very special, just like you. You are uniquely beautiful in God’s sight. As you turn your focus from the peaceful beach, look at the waves crashing ashore. Allow yourself to be reminded that God wants to be your help and comfort through every storm you face. God knows exactly where you are and what you need at this very moment. He will always bring you back to the smooth side of the island.
Prayer: Dear God, I love You and want You to know that I cannot make it through the twists and turns of this life without Your guidance, strength, and help. Thank You, Father, for being my protector and the spiritual compass that I need. Today, I pray for each person reading this post or those who may read it in the future. I humbly ask that You always bring them back to smooth waters, and that Your arms of protection will keep them close as they trust You to take them through their storms of life. May they trust and believe that their storms won’t last forever; that they won’t always cry out in sorrow; and that for every storm they face, You have a plan for their good and Your glory. Thank You for being the Master of the wind and waves. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.