I heard the thunder in the distance, but we were too involved in our game to notice. “Marco!” yelled my middle daughter, Katherine, “Polo!” my other two kids and I yelled back. It had been a fine day for swimming – warm and sunny, not a cloud in the sky, an open calendar for the afternoon. I jumped out of the way as Katherine laughed and dove toward me, and just as she tagged me we were stunned by a clap of thunder so loud it felt like it was shaking the whole pool. In less than a second it was raining giant drops of ice cold water from the sky, the lifeguard whistle was blown and we were racing out of the water to gather our things. By the time we got to the car there were rivers of water rushing down the street and under our feet, and there were powerful cracks of lightning cutting up the sky in front of us. The kids were happy, laughing, loud, making up a silly song, talking about the storm, talking about swimming, sharing snacks and water bottles in the back seat.
What’s wrong with me? I thought. I have always loved our Colorado afternoon thunderstorms. All I could think about when I looked at those dark gray clouds was how I felt on the inside, that only I knew about. In the middle of my busy family I felt alone. Even in the sunshine and throws of a playful pool game I had felt the heaviness of a cloud over me. Seeing real clouds above me now made the heaviness feel heavier. I had been so sad all afternoon . . . melancholy and slow moving and sad. Our family is grieving the loss of my precious mother-in-law, who died just a few weeks ago in our home. We had taken care of her for more than two years and the emptiness of our home without her was consuming me today. I just couldn’t shake it.
As we drove home the kids asked me to put some music on from the radio. The song that was on blended into the background noise and I heard nothing. I thought to myself what do we have in the house? Do we have any sweets? I could really go for a cookie right now. Do I have the ingredients? That’s what I’ll do – I’ll make cookies for the kids on a cozy, rainy, summer afternoon. What could be better? They will love it! But there was a tugging in my soul during those thoughts that reminded me that emotional eating was on the horizon, and coming fast. How many times in my life had I run down this path only to find more emptiness? I sighed and whispered Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus . . . in my mind. We were home now and the kids were jumping out of the car, running to the house and yelling about who would get to the trampoline first. The rain had slowed to a calm sprinkle, the thunder and lightning had stopped, and I realized that one of my favorite songs had come on the radio – it’s called “How Sweet the Sound” by Citizen Way – maybe you’ve heard it.
Yea, though I walk through the valley
I know that You are always right beside me
And I will fear no evil
You’re my rock and my strength
You comfort me
Carry me through the waters
Where Your peaks clears away all my sorrow
Nothing can separate us From Your love, oh Your love
It will always be
You were healing in the pain
You were shelter in the storm
Hallelujah, you restored my soul
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
I hear You singing over me
I once was lost but now I’m found…
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
It covers every part of me
My soul is silent, I am found
And it’s a beautiful sound
A beautiful, beautiful sound.
I closed my eyes and let God’s truth wash over me like the water in the pool, like the rivers of rain water running down the street. I imagined Jesus covering me, covering every part of me, consuming me with his love, with his grace, with his healing. Two silent tears slid down my cheeks. He was there with me, in the car, in the rain, during the storm. He knew. And he touched my soul through the words of that song . . . amazing grace, how sweet the sound, it covers every part of me, my soul is silent . . . I am found.
When I got out of the car after just 3 minutes or so I heard thunder in the distance and saw the clouds forming into a new summer storm. My youngest, Madeline, needed a band aid, my neighbor wanted to talk with me about a tree branch of ours hanging over her yard, UPS drove up with a package to sign for and the phone was ringing. In the midst of the business of life Jesus had touched me – it only took a minute. He had renewed my mind, restored my soul, and poured his love and grace on me so that I could continue on as a mom, as a wife, as a neighbor, as a friend. The sadness in me about losing my mother-in-law will linger for a long, long time – of that I am sure. But in that moment I knew that I had been touched by my loving Savior, and I was going to be okay.
(As a side note . . . it wasn’t even an hour later that I was suddenly experiencing true hunger and was at a zero. Feeling complete peace I turned on the oven and pulled out all of the ingredients to make chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies – just like my grandma used to make. I licked the dough once, made the cookies, ate two as my happy children devoured the rest, and moved on!!!)
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.” Psalm 46:1-2, 7
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, 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 soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
“Oh God, you are my God; I shall seek you earnestly; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1
How about you? Do you sometimes feel consumed by an emotion that causes you to want to run to food? What happens if we allow ourselves to hear God’s voice in those moments? God loves you so much and wants to bless you in every circumstance. What is he saying to you today?