Father, lead my soul on level ground.
Hold my hand where my heart grows faint.
And when the world about draws near,
To tempt and make its loves my muse,
To rend and fill my soul with dread,
Father, lead my soul on level ground.
Some time ago, I was talking to a friend about life and its challenges. Our discussion continued deep into the night, and when we finally went to bed, it was nearly three, but despite the general fuzziness that ruled my head at the time, I remember what she said.
And I quote:
“Sometimes, the way God works is… He doesn’t change anything about the situation and we battle on wondering what on earth He is doing and cry out for relief in the storm. And our prayer shouldn’t be, “God, take away the storm.” It should be, “God, let me see you IN the storm. Don’t take me out of it – draw me to you IN it.” And that’s what He does! He doesn’t take us out of the storm. Nothing might even change. Like literally nothing. But He changes US in the storm. Into someone we never imagined we could be. I mean, someone with the grace and strength that we could never create on our own… how can we possibly be gracious and strong in [such] situations…? How could they ever be anything but negative? It’s literally impossible from the human perspective. Literally the only thing that can keep us going is when our hearts have been transformed IN the storm as we are completely and utterly broken before the Lord.”
I don’t know about you, but that spoke a lot to me. Each of us has experienced our fair share of trials and heartbreaks, and it’s no small feat to get through them.
I think back to times when bad things happened to my friends and family, times when I was betrayed by people my heart held dearest, times when misunderstandings turned things upside down, times when I lost people I loved.
And I think of now. I have friends going through the same things, experiencing the same pain, struggling with the same questions…
And I realize that truly, God has a higher plan for me. And for you, too, whether it seems believable or not. I know there were periods of my life when I felt I could no longer trust Him. Days, weeks, and months on end…
But as I take another step in this journey called Life, I have been shown through my friends that He put me through those tough times for a reason- so that I would be able to understand, empathize, and encourage.
Jeremiah 29:12-14 says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
It just reminds me of how God uses hardships in life – yes, even those that make you feel like giving up on life – to turn us to Him, so that we may strengthen our relationship with Him, and that we may find Him a true friend and Father – the only One Who truly understands us and Who can help us through our fiercest storms.
So together, as we journey through life, let us not pray, “God, take me out of this storm.” Instead, let us turn to Him and pray, “God, let me find You IN this storm. Never let me go, because You made me. I am precious in Your sight, and I want to discover a whole new depth of my relationship with You.”
Together, let us look to Him, to find Him IN THE STORM.
It was nearly midnight. I crawled wearily into my sleeping bag, but couldn’t help noticing the girl beside me, holding a Bible and flashlight.
Now, who in the world would dream of reading Scripture in the dead of the night after a long, exhausting day of hiking, games, outdoor cooking, and team activities?
So it wasn’t just those homeschooled girls who had been zealously brought up in the faith who had real relationships with God.
It wasn’t just those ministry people who were aflame for God.
It wasn’t just those people who’d had dramatic encounters with God who really had Him in their lives.
Normal people like her could, too.
I wanted to experience the type of relationship that she had with God. I wanted to know what it was about God that meant so much to her. I wanted to feel for myself this God that she had such a personal relationship with, she felt something was missing in a day without time spent with Him.
She is beautiful. Maybe not to others, but to me, she is simply beautiful.
Beautiful- deep in her heart. Simplicity, honesty, humility, and that love for God. That’s what attracted me.
How much she, in this age, respected her parents, and wasn’t afraid to show it.
How she was willing to admit her mistakes, and share lessons she had learnt.
How she was courageous, standing firm in her beliefs despite the deteriorating moral standards of our culture today- music, fashion, conduct, language, you name it.
That night, we had our first real conversation. An honest, vulnerable, and yet fulfilling one like I had never had before. May 3, 2014. In a yellow-and-green tent, in the middle of the night. Yes.
Her voice still resonates in my mind. I still remember the passage we read and discussed that night.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Since that night two years ago, that relationship has grown. It is a gem to me- deeply treasured.
She’s stood by me in my happiest moments. She doesn’t waver when I make the dumbest mistakes. She always has a word of encouragement for someone who needs it.
Her spontaneity and enthusiasm are contagious. She’s willing to be vulnerable, and takes correction humbly.
She doesn’t fake it when she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t judge someone for their mistakes, actions, or emotions.
She respects those who tease her, and cares for everyone, no matter how insignificant.
She doesn’t look for admiration- she looks for ways to be a blessing and a light to others in her corner of the world.
She is motherly, caring, and kind. She is willing to sacrifice to help others.
And I know beyond a doubt, no matter how badly I’ve failed, she’s there cheering me on.
I know beyond a doubt, no matter how small my success, she’s happy for me.
I know beyond a doubt, she will be there for me through thick and thin.
Maybe not physically, but spiritually and emotionally, yes.
She is that friend – we don’t need to meet every day, or even every week. Sometimes we don’t even talk when we see each other- we just wave from a distance and carry on.
It’s really true. Real friends don’t need to talk to you all the time to be connected. Real friends are already connected to you.
1 universe, 9 planets, 245 countries, 809 islands, 7 seas, and I had the privilege of meeting her.
All by God’s grace.
Each moment spent with her, each memory that lingers here, each word that echoes in my ear- they’re all expressions of God’s grace.
And I’m so grateful for that.
It’s been two years, and I pray there will be many more to come.
I am truly grateful. 🙂
And as a final note to my beautiful bestie:
You’ve done so much for me, and walked so far for me.
Now, this is the least I can do for you. Love you so much!