As the last couple of weeks progressed, I was gifted with a several interactions that begged my longing heart to desire something I hadn’t even thought of in a while. Each person markedly rare and so beautifully distinct in the way they were crafted, their mannerisms and the way they speak—that I can’t help but grin from ear to ear as the thought of them blesses my thoughts. Ironically, as unique as each of them is from one another, they are individually called to journey in similar directions and professions. On the whole, they each have enjoyed many years of walking with the Lord and without fail every time I meet with one of these people my heart, soul and mind feel like they have uncovered a treasure of infinite value (I chuckle as I write that…indeed it is infinite—as God is…because knowledge of Him through the journey of each of these loving people is one piece of the treasure I get to bring with me when we part.).
As I listened to the reminiscing of people who have walked the redemption road for a while and whose lives have been marked with the unmistakable characteristic of the joy of Jesus…there were definitive times of being able to see Jesus journey with them. So, I found me longing to see where God was in my life as I grew up.
For some reason as the week progressed, I kept having a memory come up and I didn’t understand why it kept popping up. The first time it came out in conversation I superficially shared it with someone who came across my path and she expressed her amazement for a time when God showed me hope. It sounded wonderful and lovely…though, truth be told, I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand why she saw the memory as filled with hope because I was pretty sure at that time, I remembered feeling pretty hopeless. I didn’t understand her amazement. The next time it came out, I was talking with a friend of mine about God’s design for family to be a teaching arena and a list of attributes that families were meant to instill was our topic—love, stability, security, protection, provision…
As I started speaking the words that would share a part of my past, I distinctly remember thinking “what in the world does this story have to do with God’s design for family…?” I continued sharing…
I first came up to Alaska as a young teen still steeped in the abuse and sickness that I grown to believe was normal. I was under the rule of my birth family and though I didn’t have permission to drive the car, I knew I had several hours before anyone was due to be back. With the house immaculate and other chores taken care of…I took the maroon Nissan Altima down the road driving south. Ultimately, I ended up taking the Seward highway without any destination in mind, just that I was driving away. Away from the life of chaos and lies…away from the pain and the turmoil…away from the place of knowing that my only value was what my body could offer…away from the times when I could strangely not feel anything. Just sitting in the car and driving away from everything.
Psalm 86:1 “Listen, LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.”
I pulled off to the side of the road—not really having a plan, though I remember not being able to see over the trees (for you Alaskans that have been here for a while, it was the Seward highway before they made the super wide road that hugs the coastline between Beluga Point and Girdwood—when it was wrought with tight “S” curves and no shoulder to speak of). I pulled over to one of the pull outs and I saw on the opposite side of the road there was a rock face that I could climb up and see over the trees. I grabbed my “Discman” and walked over to the uneven rock face pushed play to listen to my “Linkin Park” CD and started climbing up. I lost my footing a couple of times on my way up and I remember thinking that I would be super angry if I ended up smashing my Discman. I made it up that wall of uneven rock without incident and I remember lying down on an incline and being able to see the sun kissing the inlet. In that moment I was overtaken by the beauty of what was in front of me. It was so beautiful that I felt like I could get lost in that place where the sun touches the water for an eternity. I stood up and the wind was much stronger than I realized.
The thought about the wind was a fleeting thought as I walked toward the edge of the sheer cliff. As I reached the edge, I knew I needed to try to pick a path to get down but the wind had kicked up massively. I had to press against the wind in order to see down the face of the cliff. It was an interesting sensation…I leaned into it more…I leaned out so much that soon I had an unobstructed view down the entire wall…at an angle, the upper part of my body was past the edge of the rock.
An analytical, almost apathetic thought came to my head—if the wind stops blowing…I’m gonna die because that’s a long way to fall. I remember thinking I should just step back…but I just stood there. The strength of the wind holding up my body weight and causing tears to stream from my eyes because of the intense velocity of the wind.
For many years nature had given me much pleasure to look at—flowers, sea creatures, land animals, water movement, the beauty of the earth, the stunning colors of the universe through Hubble, the starry night…
Sporadically, in those years before I had even known about the goodness of God, I thought that I felt the presence of God through the tangible aspect of the wind. I allowed the indulgent and what I considered, at the time, fairy tale-like thought of being able to feel Him in the single ray of sunshine that warmed my cheek when I stood still. I closed my eyes and imagined I could feel His tender presence in the gentleness of a summer breeze as it touched the bare skin on my arms and legs.
Psalm 143:8 “Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You. Reveal to me the way I should go because I long for You.”
Though at the time I considered those thoughts as luxuries and sometimes foolishness—I realized now that for many years the God of the universe was making himself known to me! I was completely ignorant (and to a large degree, I still am) of his goodness because what I knew of God was made manifest by the people that I had in my life as I was growing up. Rather than an example of love and health—I received punishment and depravity. And yet…the Creator of everything still pursued me as if I was worth his time…and that amazes me! He wasn’t just in the warmth of the sun as it caressed my cheek in the summer months…or the gentle breeze that could easily be ignored if I didn’t stand with my eyes closed intent on the soaking up of everything around me for the privilege of being able to be outside again… He was and is in the air I breathe—
Isaiah 43:1-2 “Now this is what the LORD says—the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel—‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.’”
I don’t remember stepping back from that ledge that day. I was given a beautiful and tearful gift today as I know without a doubt in my mind that my God loves me so much that he held me up. He was the strength in the wind that day on the ledge when I was so broken that I couldn’t even feel—
He carried me when I wanted to fall and not wake up again.
He held me.
He protected me.
He kept me safe.
…even from myself.
Isaiah 41:9-10 “I brought you from the ends of the earth and called you from its farthest corners. I said to you: You are My servant; I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.”
I was in tears at the joy of being able to have a glimpse of the presence of God as I walked through some very hard moments in my life. I found that God indeed granted me my desire to know without a doubt that God pursued me when my heart wasn’t even open to Him! It is still so incredibly amazing to me!
Let me take this moment to say that if you can identify with the things that I had felt and struggled with and you haven’t done so already—would you reach out and let someone who is safe for you know? There are great people all around who will journey with you or may be able to point you in a healthier direction. Just know there are absolutely people who can help along your healing journey—no one is meant to walk alone.