“God walks with us… He scoops us up in His arms or simply sits with us in silent strength until we cannot avoid the awesome recognition that yes, even now, He is there.” – Gloria Gaither
It was a dark, drizzly, damp, cold morning. My mood matched the blackness outside, and I opened the front door cautiously. I stared and sighed. I stared at the slick streets and heavy clouds and watched the light rain quietly fall.
‘What must my friends be thinking right now?’ I wondered. ‘’Surely they want to back out; change plans or suddenly remember something else to do this morning.”
It was wet outside, it was supposed to sunny; it was chilly instead of the predicted warm weather.
We’d planned a walk on the beach first thing that morning, and then a brunch at one of my friends’ house. When a friend first asked me how I wanted to celebrate my birthday, there was a part of me that wanted to let it pass by quietly, unobserved.
Sometimes thinking about birthdays and holidays is hard for me, other times my heart isn’t quite as heavy, but in any event, it is never a totally carefree thought. Thinking about celebrations always tugs tenderly at my heartstrings.
As many of you know, but some of you don’t, our youngest daughter Amy and I were in a tragic car accident 3 ½ years ago. Our precious strawberry blond did not survive, and though I heard her say “Jesus” when I believe that she was instantly relocated to heaven, sometimes the ‘missing’ of her here on earth is grueling. Special days and holidays are the times when the missing is extra ‘loud’ in my heart.
I never used the word ‘bittersweet’ as often as I have since learning to navigate the land of grief. The interesting thing is that though the “bitter” is a searing pain and on-going loss, I have found that as I’ve called out to God in my sadness, He has answered with a sweetness and hope that I never experienced before.
The sweetness shows up in an inner comfort, a deep joy and a profound sense of God’s presence and peace that I could not manufacture on my own. I often feel like He is literally holding me tenderly, like a parent comforting a child; other times it seems like I sense Him walking step by step with me throughout my day.
I have also felt sweet comfort from friends and family who walk with me on this adventure of life, so when my friends wanted to do something on my birthday, I agreed. There is so much to celebrate in life, there is so much that is sweet, and right and good. We all face sorrow and joy, tears and laughter, good-byes and hellos. My friends have walked through a lot of highs and lows with me in life, and I have tried to do the same with them. That’s what we do.
So when I looked out the front door and saw that it was a dark, drizzly, damp cold morning, I thought of my friends, and realized they would be there for me that morning.
On my own, I would have opted out of walking in the cold, but thinking about walking with my friends brought an inner warmth and energy. It was symbolic of life: when we know others are walking with us, we feel stronger. And when we sense God walking with us, we feel peace and hope.
I never actually noticed if it was raining or cold when we were together, all I remember is deep sharing with true friends. I remember taking turns talking with one another as we walked on the wet sand and over the rocks. I remember that the sky was dark and foreboding in one direction, but had bits of sun pushing through clouds in the other. I recall the steady lilt of gentle waves marking the shore.
Afterwards we had brunch together, and besides sharing a wonderful meal, we shared ways we each felt God had walked with us recently, be it through joyful times or painful ones. I heard about answered prayers, guidance in decisions, growing relationships, comfort in challenges, prompting to reach out to others, and joy in the midst of sorrow.
Though we all shared different stories and emotions, there was a strong sense that each of us experienced God’s love and faithful presence. We’ve learned that we can trust God to always be with us, to walk with, and sometimes carry us, through all of life. Yes, even now, He is here.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].