I find myself in a collision of life change. As a result, I find myself living out of a suitcase, nursing anxiety acne, and feeling paralyzed when it comes to taking up my pen. Things like “Marriage Monday” and “Feed Me Friday” just seem like doing crunches right now (At least that’s what I imagine crunches feel like!). Change is great fodder for writers, but first we may need to sit and think and breathe and pray and wait. It’s like living in a parenthesis, occasionally interrupted by divine reminders that God has not stopped writing our story.
It was a rare clear day when we could see every crack and crevice on the peak. Some people only see clouds and National Park video of what might’ve been. We drove several hours from our new arid, Northwestern hometown to show Mount Rainier to Jacob. I’m not ashamed to say we were trying to entice him to want to come back to our new home that’s so foreign from the one he’s known (shameless parent tactic). If you want to make an impression, Mount Rainier on a clear day should do it.
It would’ve been a glorious day, if not for the nagging truth that Jacob would leave us for good in two days and that life for our family has been turned upside down. After lunch, Jeff and Jacob went to do some hiking. I found an ancient chair to sit and think and breathe and pray and wait.
It wasn’t long before an older gentleman approached me to ask about my t-shirt with my alma mater on it. He used to live near there and was glad to meet someone who knew his once-home. His wife and friends soon joined, asking me personal questions that felt strangely welcome. One wife blurted out, “What in the world brought you all the way out here?”
Women have a way of seeing past paralysis. A moment to collect myself and mentally write my answer didn’t get past her discerning eyes. Maybe she saw my lip quiver. Maybe my eyes gave away my struggle. Maybe she recognized herself. She threw her stranger arms around me and confidently, knowingly, quoted an old phrase into my ear with fresh meaning. “Honey, the will of God will not lead you where the grace of God can’t keep you.” Her gray-haired, smiling husband stepped forward to tell me how they’ve spent a married life of 46 years in the military, lived in the Mojave Desert, and moved their family hither and yon for a lifetime, yet God’s grace has never failed them. The four of them surrounded me to speak words of blessing over our changing life, our new life, our kids, and our future, and then we parted.
God’s grace keeps us.
God sometimes leads us in ways and to places we could not anticipate, but He keeps us. He knows just what we need, and He meets that need. Jeff and Jacob needed father-son time on the trail. I guess I needed the Lord to interrupt me in my parenthesis, to send angels of encouragement in the form of strangers, to remind me of what God longs for me to know. As the nameless foursome walked away, I knew they were divinely appointed to deliver a message to give me God’s peace. He will keep me.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10)
Is your heart overwhelmed today? In pain? In a parenthesis? Paralyzed? Do you need to sit and breathe and think and pray and wait? Me too. Even in the lowest places or on the highest peaks, God will be with us and His grace will keep us.