“We missed the turn,” I said as my sister and I maneuvered the dark roads. “It was back there.”
“Oh,” she said from the passenger seat. “Oops.”
We’d just left Camp BaYouCa. I’d met up with the Shilliff sisters and had spent the evening at a Funny Bone Campfire, where the support staff for Family Camp Week got together and did skits for the campers and the parents of the campers. We’d spent the time leading up to the fire talking about our lives, reliving old summer memories, talking about our families, and being refreshed by each other. I’d brought Gracie with me, and it was turning out to be some great time for both her and I as we spent time together with others. The visit had ended with our being able to pray with the support staff before leaving, and I left feeling like I’d been sick without knowing it and had gotten a healthy dose of cough syrup with a spoonful of sugar.
Being there hadn’t made me sad though. No. Because I knew that God wanted me home this summer, and looking back, I can see why. So visiting BaYouCa to see my people was a blessing, not a regret, and I felt loved, welcomed, enjoyed, and missed.
I leaned over the steering wheel, going slow, watching for deer. They’re more beautiful, I think, when they’re not dead on the side of the road, but vehicles at night seem to be deer magnets up in the Sticks.
As I peered out into the night, I glanced upward.
“Oh my goodness! We’re pulling over.”
“I want to show you something.” I pulled over on the side of the road. It was nearly ten, and we were on a back road beset by one house and a trailer on either side. Street lamps were a myth in these parts.
Turning off the car and getting out, I walked around to the front and looked up. And there, before us tiny humans, was displayed the greatest sea of diamonds I’d yet to see in several years. The big dipper blended in with all of the other stars that lit up the night, and the little dipper poured into it. The constellations played a love song for my sister and I, and they danced in their own light, reminding us of how gentle, loving, protective, safe, and valiant our God was.
As we stood there, I went back to a few weeks ago to the Brock family reunion.
The fire had been built, and all of the day’s activities caught up with me as I sat on the hard bench, surrounded by the Brock family members. And I sat praying. It had become a habit of mine, to talk to God all throughout the day, in everything, to tell Him my heart’s struggles, the temptations I face, the desires I had, the joy my heart experienced.
We all sat around—uncles, aunts, mothers, fathers, cousins, brothers, and sisters—we loved each other with our presence, looking up into the night sky to point out constellations.
“A shooting star!” someone exclaimed. “And it left a trail!”
I let my shoulders slump and looked at Jake, who sat to my left. I’d never seen a shooting star before. He grinned.
“You have to look up!” he said with a laugh.
I swung my leg over the bench and leaned against his shoulder as I tilted my head up to the darkness above me, the sparkling infinity stretching far beyond anything I could comprehend. And I wondered, as I so often did, how any one soul on this earth could look up into the night sky, and say “There is no God.”
Hannah came over, and leaned against me, looking up with me as the two of us leaned on Jake. And that was wonderful, as serene a moment I’ve ever been in… the three of us enjoying this time, this life with their family, marveling at God’s magnificence displayed for all to see.
It was then, back in the present, with my sister, that the stars seemed even brighter than they had that one night, and I was hit with the reality that I would not share moments like this with her for much longer…things were changing. It hit me, only a few days ago, that there would come a time when Tyler and I would no longer come home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. We would grow up, have our own families, with our own holidays and traditions…
As I thought about this, I wasn’t sad. Just, surprised. I couldn’t believe I was already there, knocking on the door of adulthood…
And yet, after we got back into the car and drove home, after we’d gotten home, after I’d climbed into bed and sat thinking about the day, talking it over with the One who holds my heart, I was satisfied. I recalled the valiance of my Prince, the way He pursues me and loves me and gently holds my heart in His powerful, strong, and willing hands. My fierce Protector, and my best Friend.
These are the things I run to, the truth about my God that I cling to as I prepare to leave the Shire and return to the City, where challenges beyond my understanding lie waiting to be conquered, where heartache tends to rest, and where I learn my hardest lessons. God is prepared for this, for this year, for this time. He is ready, mighty in battle, set for victory, even if in my heart I wonder if I’m really ready for anything…life is not lived by how ready I am, but rather how valiant God and His heart prove to be in every circumstance, and in the entire history of creation, before time began, He has yet to fail.
One of the things I was reminded of today and even yesterday is that God exists outside of all human boundaries. In Romans 9, Paul harks back to Exodus, when God tells Moses, “I will show mercy to whom I show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” This is not for God to flaunt or flail His power or His awesomeness, though He would certainly have every right in the universe and beyond to do so, but it’s to remind us, at least to remind Moses and myself, that He is not limited by how we see the world. He is not able to be boxed in by our rules and our fears and our explanations. He’s able to do far more and far greater than we could ever ask or imagine. And that is really cool 😀
In remembering this, I remember that He sees things differently, including me. I may look at myself and my current position and life and be dissatisfied because it doesn’t measure up to the world’s definition of success. And yet, when I ask God through tears, “What do YOU think of me? Lord, Daddy, what do You see when You look at me?” He answers loudly and confidently with a perspective that is nearly the exact opposite of what everything in my head is screaming at me: beautiful, lovely, important, wanted, worthy, honorable, clean, pure, chosen, precious, adorned, protected, and fought for.
And so, doing college shopping, meeting up for goodbye lunches, spending time with my family, organizing and packing and praying like mad, these are the things I think of. And when I think of these, the future becomes less of a threatening, wild wilderness, and more of a grand parchment, awaiting the skillful calligraphy of the Author of Life to pen yet another adventure. 🙂
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and I will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song; and he has become my salvation.” —Isaiah 12:2