Water bottle. ✓
A simple day hike does not require many things, but there are a few important ones I bring along. I usually have a backpack filled with a small list of items that make my experience more comfortable. Being prepared gives me peace of mind and helps me to stay focused on my hike.
God worked out a similar process with me before I was thrust into this difficult and beautiful valley.
Over the past few years, Jeff and I had conversations about death. I would ask him if he was afraid to die or if he was concerned about how he would die. He said to me, “Babe, one out of one people die! So we’re all going to die. I am not afraid at all. I just hope it’s quick.” I would laugh at him every time he said that because he was so sassy about it. He was right though. We are all going to die. We can’t avoid it.
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” —Isaiah 55:8
Two weeks before Jeff died in that horrible car accident, we were at our youth pastor’s home. Jeff and I were both youth leaders for 17 years. That night, two weeks before, we attended a leaders’ meeting. During that time together, Jeff suggested that we should host an event for the community where we could gather everyone and share the Gospel (the Good News of Jesus). He wanted our teenagers to reach more people for Christ and to love our community. Jeff had become more passionate about our world and the terrible state it was in. He wanted people to know the Truth of Scripture and to be set free from sin. I don’t remember what we said to him that night. I just remember nodding and moving on.
BUT GOD…God prepared me and the rest of the people that night to see an amazing work He was about to do. Three weeks after that meeting, we were all sitting in the sanctuary of Community Bible Church, celebrating Jeff’s amazing life. We sat in awe at his memorial service. I was the new widow, dressed in black, sitting in the front row holding tissues in my hand, shivering. My legs were almost numb and my stomach felt nauseous. I couldn’t believe my beloved husband and warrior of God was dead and buried. It was surreal. God did an amazing work that day. He brought over 600 people into the church to hear Jeff’s story and to hear the Gospel! There were two overflow rooms filled with people outside of the packed sanctuary. There was an online presence as well so people from far away could watch Jeff’s service on a live stream. Over 800 people listened to the testimony of the Lord during that pain filled day. God made a way for Jeff’s desire to become a reality.
This valley has twists and turns in it. I stumble and trip over things all the time. My knees have many cuts and bruises from all the falling. It’s not easy to navigate a season of loss and grief with three teenagers. But God keeps showing us the way.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” —Isaiah 30:21
There’s a darkness that tries to settle into my life. The enemy makes sure that this valley has places of pitch black darkness. He wants to discourage me at every turn and focus my eyes onto the unknown places. It’s in those moments that I struggle with anxiety and fear. Sometimes it feels like something or someone will be taken away from me again. The fear wells up inside me and I can hardly breathe or cry out. The fear paralyzes me some evenings and I feel so vulnerable.
But then I hear a voice. I remember His Word. His Spirit speaks Truth to my heart and I can exhale again. The Lord reminds me that He is here and He brings Light into the dark places. He can lift me up out of the darkness through other people, a Scripture verse, a heavenly distraction or experiencing His presence. He is my Protector and He will not let me drown in darkness. When I call out to Jesus, He answers me…ALWAYS.
The day after Jeff died, I was a zombie. My brain was mush and my heart was bleeding. I couldn’t believe what was happening to my life and all the decisions I needed to make. So many details needed to be dealt with and paid for but I couldn’t function.
Our chocolate lab, Davis, was in the accident as well. She had been thrown from the vehicle as it rolled down the highway. That sweet girl broke her hip and leg that day. Even after she was ejected, she still managed to stumble her way to Jeff because she knew who her daddy was. She was taken to an emergency animal clinic and needed surgery. It was going to cost over $2,000 and I didn’t have it. The kids were crying telling me that I had to save Davis. She HAD to come home with us. It broke my heart.
Later that day, I received a card from some of my favorite mural clients. Inside that card was a monetary gift that would cover all of Davis’ surgery plus any extra costs. God immediately provided exactly what we needed!! He continued to give us everything we needed for weeks and months afterward.
A dear friend set up a “Meal Train” and within three hours of sign ups being open, we had three and a half months worth of meals! What an incredible gift that was!
People had volunteered to clean our house, chop firewood, fix our cars, mow the lawn, school the boys and love on us in every way imaginable. The LORD never left our side. He provided every detail as He carried us through each day.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 4:19
Obviously, I had no idea Jeff was going to die that day or that this was the valley I was going to be thrown into.
But God knew. He is Sovereign and He is good.
He prepared me.
He protected me.
He provided for me.
Do you trust the One who created you? Do you trust that He will be everything You need for your next valley?