I just got home from a week on the beach.
This rural plot on Old Plaston Road is only a 7-hour drive from the Indian Ocean. To make it even better, it was family vacation. Although a deep part of me was crying out to make cold(ish)-weather Christmas memories with the ones I love back in Texas, I was thrilled and blessed and loved to overflow this year when my close-enough-to-be-family friends and leaders, John and Carla, invited me on their holiday trip.
We’d been counting down the days until we left…
This year has been unbelievable on every spectrum.
There have been highs and lows that you can only know if you dare to love with everything. We’d spent the year urging each other on to deeper love - love that changes you.
And, quite frankly, we needed to take a deep breath and to step away from the extremities of our daily life, the highs and lows of loving all the way.
We needed to let the ocean’s tides wash over everything 2013 has washed up and to clear a space in our hearts and minds for new footprints, castles and dreams to be etched.
And it was going to be a REAL vacation. Not just a little 2-night, I-hope-this-helps dip into respite, hoping to subdue dried out hearts. We were packing our big girl (and big boy) bags, and going away for SIX NIGHTS.
I’d promised Mama Charity I’d come back with the same color skin as her.
It’s summertime in South Africa - BRING ON THE SUNTAN!
We were welcomed to our lovely beach cottage by… RAIN.
And the rain didn’t stop for FOUR DAYS!
We played Yahtzee. We memorized the aisles of the grocery store, even though we didn’t need to buy anything. Carla baked cookies. We signed up for pilates. I went on walks in the rain. And we went freakin’ stir-crazy.
I poured the bucket of questions, cries and burdens that traveled with me into my journal since I couldn’t pour it into the ocean. I drained the ink of all my pens with the burdens of burnout, the worries of countless what-ifs, and with hollowing homesickness. I wondered what my faith was really made of and if it was strong enough to withstand the storm, both outside and in.
The rain kept falling.
And the part that drove me crazy is that it wouldn’t pour. It sprinkled, misted, drizzled and pitter-pattered. And if the heavens would have just released the torrent it was hoarding, WE COULD HAVE GONE TO THE BEACH.
A light and steady resistance just kept falling.
Finally, we said goodnight on the fourth night at the beach cottage to the sounds of real rain. Loud rain. Real rain.
And the sun was up at 4:30am the next day! And so were we!
We had our beach umbrellas set up, sunscreen on, and feet in the sand by 7:30am… and we stayed for almost 9 hours to make up for lost time.
I walked along the shoreline with my Savior.
The tides washed my feet, and the Healer washed my heart.
I looked at that ocean that kept going.
Kept washing. Kept flowing.
It was there the whole time.
It was constant and unchanging during the four-day drizzle.
I’d just spent so many days staring at that little storm cloud icon on the weather map. But the deep kept washing, rolling and flowing the whole time.
We spent two full days of perfection on that beach. PERFECTION.
And, you know what, it restored me.
It washed me. It refreshed me.
In just two days.
As I walked along the shores of the One who keeps washing and flowing and restoring, I realized how quickly the rainy days were forgotten when the sun came out.
As soon as I stepped into the sunlight and let that water wash over me, I felt new. All the sounds except rushing water faded away and, for a minute, I soaked in what Forever will sound like.
Right now – and for the last 3 days since we returned - I’ve been staring, daring and begging my phone to ring or vibrate or do SOMETHING that says Lifa can come home today. And for that one call that’s promised to come any moment, the one we’ve been waiting on for 2 ½ years, that says there’s a birth certificate with his name on it that is real.
And I’m back to feeling crazy. I’m back to feeling that constant drizzle, the unyielding resistance, that is filling my bucket of burdens.
So, I open all those pages I filled in the beach cottage. And I pour Living Water into my stubborn and struggling spirit. And water threatens to pour out of my eyes.
And I remember how I forgot.
I spent DAYS staring at a tiny storm cloud icon, when the ocean was there the whole time.
There were a lot of deferred dreams in 2013. And I bet there will be in 2014 too. Clouds come and block that radiant glow. But it’s still back there. And, when it rises and shines, the rainy days are washed away and joy wins.
But back in the farmlands, where the mangoes and the litchis are ripening, I remember that it takes rain and sunshine to make fruit grow. It takes the heavens drizzles and downpours to drain me of myself give my heart back to Him so he can do even greater things than this.
So, today, whether that phone rings or not, I’m going to set my sights on the ocean. On the Deep, Who keeps coming and healing and restoring.
There will be rainy days and sunny days, but I won’t set my course on a weather map. What’s True is not found on a tiny forecast icon. My vision and my home is higher and greater.
I’ll fix my gaze on heaven, where there is always an ocean-view.
And I’ll be thankful. Because He always comes, heals and restores.