Over the past weekend, in American culture, we celebrated Thanksgiving. Along with hosting a party of celebration at our home (where our family dressed the parts of pilgrims arriving to Plymouth, Massachusetts), a group of friends then went to a distant beach to camp. As we followed the caravan further and further away from the busy city life, and trekked further and further into the desolate terrain, something inside of me awakened. As the amount of skyscrapers, Aston Martins, unfamiliar driving habits and chaos of big city living grew further from our present location on the highway, I realized that my spirit was at peace. As the asphalt turned to dirt roads, and we began to follow the natural landmarks to locate the exact place to meet up with the rest of the camping group, the more excited I became.
Soon, we began to pass abandoned tire after abandoned tire…and we began to wonder if we had chosen the wrong vehicle for the journey! As we rounded one of the final corners prior to our arrival, all we could see were barren fields—some were not even dotted with desert foliage or a single tree. And then, we began to see something. As we turned at the final landmark, as shown on our map, something unexpected caught our eyes…the ocean! Soon, we watched as the desert scape was transformed into a fertile, water front location. Suddenly, I no longer felt as though we were in the Middle East that I had come to know over the past year and a half. I felt strangely somewhere else.
We arrived and greeted our friends whom had arrived before us. Our camp, at the edge of the country of Qatar—where Saudi Arabia lay just beyond the waters—could not have appeared more tranquil or inviting. The teal waters sparkled in the late afternoon sunshine as our vehicles bounced across the sand. It was spectacular.
As we set up our camps, the kids all ran to the water’s edge and onto the flat, exposed rocks of the tide pools. Soon discoveries of beautiful seashells, sand crabs and even starfish were all being brought to the attention of those within camp. It was truly a wonderful day of discovery. My husband and I smiled as our children played in the sand and continued to run up to us to show us their recent treasures. After being affirmed in their latest find, they would return to their quest. Their eyes sparkled in wonderment as they noted the sheer enormity of the ocean. I grabbed my camera to capture the expressions of jubilant glee upon their precious faces as they giggled and ran with their friends. There is something truly beautiful about a child discovering various parts of God’s creation in its natural habitat. Such a blessing to behold!
Shortly there after, Phil took a long venture out onto the shallow tide pool, which was only a few inches deep, for about a quarter of a mile out with our three and a half year old Ruthie. All from shore could see where the shelf ended and the deep waters began, as the waves broke at that point—leaving only ripples into the tide pools from there on in. Many of the children played and frolicked in the pools. And the further out they would go, the more attentive their respective parents would watch their actions.
It was such a beautiful reminder to me of the prodigal son. No matter how much the younger son’s words may have hurt his father’s heart—as he demanded his share of the inheritance (before his father had died) and left to “live the good life”—the young man’s father was the one who saw his now broke and humiliated son returning; while he was still a long distance away from the family property. The father did not forbid the son from going on his personal quest. His son was a grown man. But the father did know that his beloved son would soon realize that the advice and direction that he had shared through the years were not to spoil his son’s desire for fun, but rather to equip him to be successful in life—because the father loved his son. And as the son sincerely apologized to his father, the father was so happy to have his son back that he threw a grand party to celebrate his return (Luke 15:11-32).
Bringing this parable into the modern age: Have you ever wondered what some of the major Bible stories would have looked like if depicted on social media? How many approving comments or affirming marks might such a post as “My son once was lost, but now is found!” receive? How many forwards? Should it matter?
In a world that is hyper vigilant of what other’s think of them—I know I fall into this trap more frequently than I care to admit—checking social media sites for recent marks of approval for various pictures, comments or posts—may we be willing to unplug from those who really should not have a say in our lives and return to the Lord and His approval. It took a trip to the literal desert of the Middle East this past weekend to allow me to be reminded of this very thing once more; and how grateful I am!
Although I love to share life with others, I have to remember whom I have been called to share each and ever moment with—above all others; the Lord. As I seek the Lord’s leading of each day as a woman within a covenant marriage to the man I love and mother our two beloved children, I cannot allow myself to lose site of the ways in which I have been called to live (Matthew 6:33). I am called to obedience to the Lord and His leadership in all areas of my life (Psalm 91:2). I need to remember to get away to meet with the Lord in a quiet place—and listen. In doing this, my soul is refreshed (Isaiah 40:31) and I am able to be the best wife and mama that I can be—with the Lord’s help—in order to best glorify the Lord (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14 (NIV)
As the sunset over the whispering waters of the Persian Gulf, many of us grabbed our families and cameras for pictures. To see the sunset that the Lord had created that evening was breathtaking. We finished our pictures, shared dinner and began to wind down for the night. Soon, it was pitch dark, with only the light of the campfire providing much light to see by. Over the distant clay mounds, a large moon had begun to rise. The waves seemed to hush the children as they ran through camp to put up final protests regarding bedtime and enjoy a few minutes more with friends. Soon the sand castles and elaborate sand structures would all be a memory, as the waves would smooth them all away by morning.
“I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone.” Isaiah 42:16 (NASB)
I lay down to put our son to bed, as my husband and our daughter enjoyed s’mores with many others around the fire. I had desperately desired to get alone with the Lord, but responsibilities of “life” carried on. I knew that I could not forsake the various tasks in which the Lord had entrusted to me. Thus, although my heart wanted to grab my journal and run for the clay hill in front of us to pray and be still before the Lord, I remained within the tasks set before me. In the middle of all this, I quickly fell asleep beside our son in our tent, only to awake hours later. I did not have a watch or phone, but was certain that it was indeed after midnight. The hustle and bustle of the children had ceased, the laughter and various conversations were now ended, and even the fire had been put out. All had gone to bed. Yet, the camp was perfectly illuminated—even better than it had been by the fire’s light.
As I unzipped our tent, a warm ocean breeze kissed my face as the moonbeams cast a soft glow on our entire beachside campsite. I looked past the fire pit, encircled with camp chairs, to view the stunning waves that gently continued to roll across the tide pools and onto the shore. Each wave had a beautiful, white glow to it, as the moon’s light was perfectly captured by the water within. I was speechless. For the first time, in quite a long time, I was in a naturally quiet place—and my heart leapt for joy! I was alone with the Lord—just as I had desired. My heart recounted the many sweet and life changing things that the Lord had shared with me during such times in the past. I was anxious to wait upon Him to hear what He may say to my heart that evening under the moonlight. As the waves brushed up against the shore with both intentionality and control, I took a deep breath as the gentle breeze blew through my hair once more. I was in the presence of the Lover of my soul; the Lord Almighty. This was a holy moment and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this special time with the Lover of my soul, Jesus Christ.
“More than the sounds of many waters, than the mighty breakers of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty.” Psalm 93:4 (NASB)
Ladies, if you have entrusted your heart to Jesus Christ, do not forget that He is the Lover of your soul (Zephaniah 3:17, Ephesians 2:4-5, John 3:16, Romans 5:8 & 1 Peter 5:6-7). He loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3 & Psalm 103:17). Thus, take the time—make the time, to get alone with Him. Allow Him to refresh your body and soul with the truths of His Word, the Holy Bible (Psalm 119:105). May we realize the refreshment and revival of spirit that awaits each one of us as we passionately pursue His leading in our lives.
“For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 (NASB)
I gazed at the stars, which seemed to be bursting through the night’s sky. They sparkled amidst the gentle moonbeams and all seemed right in the world as all others dreamed deeply in their tents. The Little Dipper, the Big Dipper, Orion and other star formations could be identified with ease. The night was so clear. I could see for miles across the desert landscape. Far off to my left, with the ocean to my back, I could see the glowing orange fireball that was shooting straight into the air from the natural gas release a great distance away. (Liquid natural gas and petroleum are both plentiful within the Middle East. And this unfamiliar site reminded me where I was in the midst of this sweet time before the Lord). No matter where in the world you may be reading this from today, rest assured, God sees you in your specific circumstances. You, in all the ups and downs of life that you may be experiencing at present, not a single detail has gone unnoticed by the Lord. Rest assured, you have the Lord’s attention.
“Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.” Isaiah 40:26 (NASB)
Ladies, in this busy time of Christmas preparation, I encourage you to get alone with the Lord.Set aside the recipe cards, the decorations and piling “traditions” in order to allow the Lord to minister to your heart. He has wonderful truths to remind you of and refresh your soul with that are found in His Holy Word, the Holy Bible. If you find that you too are looking forward to time alone with the Lord, I encourage you to make it happen. You will be glad you did—as your peace is renewed, your hope is strengthened and your love and awe of the God of all creation continues to grow with each encounter. Jesus Christ is Lord and there is no other. Allow Him to whisper truths to your soul in this season of busyness, because in the end, He is all that is worth pursuing. And in all honesty, Jesus Christ is the only reason for the season of Christmas in the first place.
May we be a generation of women who are teachable and willing to learn from the Lord how to rest in silent peace amidst the waves of chaos within our life–due to the reality of who God is and His steadfast love. Ladies, He is worth it. Meet Him under the moonbeams sometime; He made them to be enjoyed.