Last week, our family vacationed along the beautiful white beaches of the Florida panhandle. Most days spent on the Gulf are filled with breathtakingly clear, calm water that you can float in for hours. However, toward the end of our week away, a hurricane in the southern portion of the Gulf transformed the drifting, tranquil water to raging waves and strong currents. At first, we found it exciting to see the white caps and entertaining to battle the 4 foot waves. However, after a few minutes of trying to withstand the pounding and push into the currents, it became extremely exhausting. I stood out in waist-deep water just trying to get past the breakers with my float. All I wanted to do was ride in on a couple of waves. But, as I would take a few steps forward, a big wave would come, and as I jumped up, I’d get pushed back several more steps. It seemed like I just couldn’t keep pushing ahead. I’d eventually make it to the breakers, but then I would be too tired to want to ride in a wave and start that process all over again. So, I’d hang out on my float for a moment of reprieve and then begin the battle to get back into position. It all felt so pointless at times, and I’d ask myself if this was all really worth the effort. But, then, the perfect wave came, I caught the right timing, and I coasted on top of the wild foam all the way onto the beach. It was thrilling and wonderful and fun, and I wanted to do it all over again. Until the next wave crashed on me, that is. Sometimes I was knocked around. Sometimes I wiped out. Sometimes I breathed in saltwater. Sometimes I experienced the thrill of riding a big wave. That’s how it went. While I missed the calm, clear water to float in, I would have never felt the moments of excitement without the raging waves.
While being pounded by the strength of wave after wave, I recalled how I felt earlier this year. I went through a difficult time personally (the Ranch was fine, I just struggled with my own insecurities and outside voices). I felt beaten down and defeated and often unable to push forward emotionally through that time. It was like I was standing on my toes on the ocean floor and trying to keep my head above the water rolling in on top of me. I felt alone and unworthy. And in the midst of all those struggles, this poem came from my heart:
As I began to feel the Lord’s presence in the midst of my troubles and hear Him whisper words of truth in the middle of the lies, I found strength and peace like never before. The hard times were exactly that – hard. But, in the end, I found that my God was my defender and anchor and carried me through it all.
When life's waves pound against you and leave you feeling worn and spent, may you feel the Lord wrap His arms around you and find that He is ever faithful and true.