While I was on a beach vacation with my family earlier this month in another country, I was hoping for refreshment and renewal. The bluest skies contrasted against the pearly-white beaches and the roaring of the surf while the sun warmed my skin left me in awe of God at His creativeness and His creation. But that was it.
My heart cried out for Him to speak to me, to give me epiphany-moment, to at least feel His nearness. But He didn’t.
Or I thought He didn’t. He didn’t feel near. He seemed far. When I opened the Bible, His words fell hollow and didn’t resonate with any part of my heart.
But it was seven days of pure bliss with my family.
Well, okay, it wasn’t pure bliss. Besides the clanging from the kitchen below and the crying baby who was ignored by her mother on the floor above us night after night, sleep did not come easy on the hard bed. Our balcony view of the ocean was wonderful but the wind was so fierce that I couldn’t hang onto my Bible and my awful bitter cup of coffee at the same time. Sand everywhere – in the bed, on the floor, in my ears.
I didn’t like the spoiled child in me that was quick to point out all the faults, so I tried to replace the negative thoughts with something positive, something to be thankful for. I was thankful for – the good food that was being prepared below for us, the beauty of motherhood and marriage. I was thankful for the Word of God in my hands and in my heart that I can carry everywhere I go. And I was thankful for the quiet and peacefulness of home and the best cup of coffee in the world that I could make in my very own kitchen. And I was thankful for earplugs.
By day 7, the day of departure, we had found rest, relaxation, and some connection with each other, but I felt like the vacation was a spiritual failure. My connection with God was difficult to find, and I could not think of any special “God” moments that would define the trip.
But He wasn’t done. As we taxied to the airport, little did I know that the next 24 hours would be filled with ‘opportunities’.
From the moment we hit the airport, the difficulties began. Not the petty kind that I had been whining about before. Two-hour lines, missed connecting flights, dealing with news of no available flights for five days, three hours of sleep in a hotel, getting up at 4am to be the first ones at the airport to fly standby, accidently leaving luggage in a taxi that drove off, watching my husband and children get on a plane to go home - without me because the pilot had a 'weight-limit' issue (105 pounds - really??).
God ‘arrived’ when the difficulties began. He had strengthened my husband and me, given us clear heads to think through the problems with patience, and enabled us to show our children how to handle circumstances beyond our control with dignity and grace.
And while I stood at the window with tears streaming down my cheeks watching them fly away and being watched by an audience of people, God was right there with me and He let me feel Him near.
In the airport in Houston coming home -- that was when God gave me my epiphany moment. I would take a life of suffering and difficulties over a life of leisure and riches just so that I would know He was near and infusing me with strength.
I am home. I long for Him. And He comes like the rain.
I found the song “You’ll Come Like the Rain” sung by Misty Edwards on the blog "Finding Heaven". It was the first time I had heard it. The rhythm, minor key melody, the harmony, the repetitiveness - when I listen to this song with my eyes closed and my heart open, it is my catalyst for feeling God’s nearness.
My soul longs for You, my soul longs for you,
Nothing else will do nothing else will do.
I believe You will come like the rain.
You'll come like the rain.
So let it rain let it rain let it rain let it rain.