The old adage, “Hindsight is 20/20”, is certainly true when it comes to the way God works in our lives. When my husband and I took off on our camping adventure seven weeks ago, we felt like a couple of kids cutting school. For years we had talked about taking off to explore the places we never got to because of time constraints. With my husband’s retirement, we realized that the time had finally come. With our new smallish camper in tow, we were as giddy as newlyweds out on a lark. Little did we know how God would deepen our faith through seemingly unrelated lessons.
In my last post I wrote about the tragic deaths of two young men in our church. Killed in separate accidents in the same week, we struggled to comprehend the reality that Josh and Heath were suddenly gone. Three thousand miles from home, our “lark” quickly become despair. But God gently ministered to us in the enormity of the California redwoods through Psalm 46,
“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the City of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
He lifts his voice, the earth melts . . . .”
Where verses 1-6 spoke to the immediacy of our pain, it is verse 10 that continues to direct our steps:
Be still and KNOW that I am God.”*
As the incomprehensible assailed us, Psalm 46 became a blanket that enfolded us with these tender assurances:
“Hush. Stop striving to understand what is far larger than you can comprehend.
Hush . . . be still. KNOW that I am with you and in the coming days will carry you.
This isn’t the end of the story.
Hush . . . you must trust Me in this.”
Looking back, we can see how God had been preparing us weeks before in our travels. We had noticed them before we left–little “shrines” along roadways marking where someone was killed in an accident. Typically a simple cross with a name on it; at other times flowers, teddy bears, and other personal reminders are placed as a memorial. Our awareness grew as we traveled through Montana, where the State marks every life lost on its roads with a small white cross. We began watching for them as we drove and were stunned when more than one cross marked a scene. In this age of “political correctness” we wondered how long the practice of using a “religious” symbol would be allowed to continue. Looking back, it was then that what had been “a lark” became a journey within a journey. It was as if the roads we traveled on, “scenic” or ordinary, became grim reminders of loss.
When we received the news about Josh and then Heath, we remembered those crosses. They were with us, full of life one moment . . . and then suddenly . . . they were gone.
So what does it mean, to “be still and know that God is God”,
when we are stung by such painful loss?
For us, the biggest thing has been to remember that God is Big and we are small.
To be still and know is a call to humility. James 4 speaks to the battle that is on-going in our hearts, especially when life hits hard:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Come near to God and He will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners, and
purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Grieve, mourn and wail.
Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Since leaving Montana, we’ve driven through eleven more states. In that time God’s incomprehensible enormity has been demonstrated in countless ways. The day after receiving the devastating news, we watched whales basking in God’s Provision off Patrick’s Point and then appreciated the solitude of three days camping in the Avenue of the Redwoods–where God was indeed big and we . . . were tenderly cared for. After that, visits with long missed family and friends ministered greatly to our hearts.
In the weeks since, we have learned that when life hits hard, it is tempting to doubt God’s goodness. But when we entertain those doubts, the world around us dims as we distance ourselves from Him. Yet it has been through those struggles, that we have gratefully embraced the Shining Hope of the Gospel, as the Cross speaks:
Death, Loss and Eternal Darkness
for those outside of Christ,
Redemption, Hope and Life Eternal
for those who are in Christ.
Today, we continue to mourn the loss of two very special men along with family and friends. But we have learned to give thanks to God:
- For His faithfulness in loving us–even in our doubts.
- For ministering to us–as we have been privileged to witness the enormity and ever-changing diversity of His Creation.
- For Josh and Heath’s lives–and the assurance that they are safe with Him . . . .
When God is BIG and we are small,
doubt recedes as we find HOPE and SHELTER in HIM.
All to His Glory!