The street was wet and full of broken, green leaves from the torrential rain and hail storm we had last night. The leaves felt like a soft carpet under my feet as I walked, barely noticeable. The air was cool and wet, with heavy dark clouds hovering over me. Faster, faster, faster I walked, my mind racing and spinning, swirling with so many things. I was right there next to her when my precious mother-in-law took her last breath and went straight into her Savior’s arms. Her last breath . . . she was gone. We were able to get the kids out of school in time to say goodbye, tell her how much we loved her and how thankful we were for her and her time with us. We gave her permission to go on, that we would meet her there. We cried rivers of tears all day long.
We had been taking care of her for so long that now I hardly know what to do with myself. We are all exhausted, our routines are upside down, the kids are out of school for the summer, the dishes sit dirty and piled in the sink, the laundry is everywhere. Is it time to make a meal for her? Do I need to run upstairs and see if she needs anything from the store? Should I go up and open her curtains, say good morning and make her a cup of coffee? I need to tell her what is going on with the day and what nurse or nurse’s assistant is coming to visit her. I go upstairs and it is a shock to see and feel the emptiness of her room. Her bed is stripped and empty – she was right there when she died, when I held her hand, when I felt her paper thin skin one last time. The room was quiet and still. I miss her . . . how I miss her.
I walked faster and faster, running these thoughts and images through my mind, up hills, across streets, on my way to one of my favorite spots in my neighborhood – my two older kid’s middle school. Set on a hill in what used to be the east part of town, it has the most lovely yard of evergreen trees and grass, and an amazing view of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountain range. Several weeks ago God used that huge, majestic, snow covered mountain to remind me that He is God, and I am not . . . that He is a mountain and I am only a pebble, and I decided to submit to Him every time I looked at that mountain, wherever I might be in the city on that day. I walked over to my favorite spot, under a tall pine tree and fell to my knees on the wet mud, mixed with pebbles and pine needles and bits of grass. I looked up to find the mountain, desperate to see something solid and strong and unmoving . . . but it wasn’t there. It was covered completely in huge, dark, ominous clouds and it just didn’t seem to exist. I cried out to God . . . Lord, Lord! Where are you? I am feeling so lost, so confused, so sad. Lord, Lord, I have lost my footing . . . I don’t know where to step, I can’t see what is ahead, I can’t even see you! I need you right now, I need your peace and I don’t even know what else. How do I go from here?
Over the past few days I have slid back into my old habits of turning to food for comfort, for strength, for a distraction, for whatever I might need in the moment. For those of you on this Thin Within journey with me you know all too well how easy it is to do that. Wonderful, sweet friends were bringing flowers and food. We were going out to eat instead of eating at home. I began to nibble when I wasn’t hungry, then wait for hunger, then I was almost afraid to eat because I felt so out of control. When I did eat I didn’t stop, and ate past satisfied and past full. It’s what I have always done, so it was there for me when I needed it. But it felt awful, and even as I ate I was thinking in my mind that it wasn’t worth it, that it wasn’t helping, that it wasn’t what I needed. But I did it anyway.
I got up and brushed the dirt, mud and pebbles off of my knees. My legs and feet were stiff and sore from sitting that way but it felt good. I still couldn’t see the mountains, but I began to feel God’s presence seep into my soul. I found a sturdy stick and drew a heart in the mud and pebbles with it. God, speak to me. I know you are here.
I needed to get home now. My family would be waiting for me, the kids needed breakfast and smiles and assurance that everything was going to be alright. There were phone calls and plans to make, dishes to do. I started walking again. And then Jesus spoke to me, in my heart, as I walked. It surprised me how clear his voice was, but I had asked him, hadn’t I? Sometimes all it takes is to ask. He told me that even though I felt like He wasn’t there, He was. He promised that He would never leave me. And He reminded me that I had not lost my footing . . . that He was my rock, that He was walking ahead of me and holding me by His right hand. He promised to show me each step even though I felt like I was walking with my eyes closed. He said not to worry, and that He would take care of everything.
And then I turned a corner onto a street that faced west and you won’t believe it . . . just then the clouds over the mountains parted and I could see Pikes Peak, covered in fresh snow and looking more beautiful and amazing than ever. I had to laugh out loud as I walked. God is so good. In that moment He whispered that He loved me and I knew it was true.
How about you? Are there times when you don’t know if God is really there for you? Do you run to food when your Savior is waiting with open arms to take care of your every need? What is God whispering to your heart today?