"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. . ." Ps. 46:1
The sun was hot and you'd think early in the morning it shouldn't be so. I felt sore in my right leg - several bruises from teaching the little ones to surf last Saturday at the beach. I felt somewhat dehydrated despite my attempt to drink water last night and when I woke. I ran the trail, little pebbles flying up and a couple finding their way into my tennis shoe, inching their way under my foot and eventually between my toes.
I kept running. I conversed with God, outloud. . . then in my head, then outloud again. He already knows my heart, my troubles, my pain. I tell Him anyway.
At first it was just the last part of the verse that latched onto my heart, "A very present help in trouble. . ."
There isn't a day I don't face trouble. I want to believe in heaven. I do. Not just because I will be free of trouble, but because I will be free to fellowship with Jesus unhindered by this body of sin, unhindered by my fluctuation of moods, feelings - faulty feelings at that.
I'm always astounded how I can go from praise and love for Him, then the next moment so earthy, so worldly, so here and now with eternity far from thought.
The sun beat down hotter. My leg stopped hurting and got with the program. My breathing became heavy and the little hairs that didn't want to stay in my pony were bothering me.
A present help. Present. Right now, in this moment. In the next moment, in the last moment. It's a promise.
The second mile was coming closer to completion. I knew my walking break was coming and my body wanted to stop early so I kept the second mile marker in sight to motivate me.
Present. With me. Right here, right now, not leaving nor forsaking. The word just went round and round in my head - maybe the heat was getting to me. Maybe the verse was sinking in.
But really I am just that needy in knowing, believing and living out of His presence with me and so I ran on.
I thought of life, of running the race. I thought about how it has hurt. How it wasn't meant to be easy for me. In fact, I am quite sure it was meant to be hard. I thought about the troubles and how they push me. They have me running to Him over and over again...
I thought about how I wish nothing bad to ever happen to my children. Emotionally and physically pain free - but now do I really want that? Do I want them blinded to their need for God, never experiencing His present, promised, needed help? Do I want them longing for heaven or content to live here, grappling for fleeting things that promise to fulfill but just leave the heart wanting more?
Am I prepared to watch them struggle through this life like I have? Am I preparing them for the battle that they are already facing and what lies ahead?
I slow to a fast walk, tears burning my eyes and hearing myself crying adult type sobs sounds foreign. . . and not like me. But it is me and it's freeing as I let the tears combine with my sweat rolling down my face - releasing emotions that have held me captive to false strength. "I run to You, I run to you, I run to you. . ." comes quietly between sobs.
And He replies, "I was with you all along. Present in your trouble. You are mine and I am not just help, but your life."
“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!—and He raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:4)
As I walked on thankfulness captured my heart.
I have always struggled with the songs that talk about "praising in the storm" and such because I'm not sure I can really praise in the storms very often. Cry in the storms? Content that they are there? Asking God for help? Hoping they won't last? Ok with that fact that life is difficult? Yes to all. But praise? No, it doesn't come naturally. To say "Thank You God" for something I am not really thankful for?
But as I began to meditate on my life being in Christ and His help that is always present with me, my eyes were opened once again to the purpose of trouble in this life.
Purpose in pain, purpose in even my children going through difficulty in their lives (how foolish it is for me to ever think I can control this element of their lives) . . .
And I found myself slowly, cautiously (I have this propensity to always second guess my authenticity when saying things I know my flesh wouldn't naturally say - I detest my own hypocrisy) repeating, "God I praise You for this trouble. . . I praise You for this pain. . . I praise You for this storm."
You know, I am pretty sure I will need the same run tomorrow with the same reminders, the same meditation. I'm a slow runner after birthing 8, and I'm an even slower learner when it comes to all things spiritual. How thankful I am that God has not given up on me. . . the troubles are still there in life so I can fully know He is ever present. Knowing His nearness like this is just a taste of heaven here on earth and it has me starving for eternity. Hungry, wanting Him.
So that is what troubles are for.
To know He is present. My only Strength. My Refuge.
(Baby - who is now our new "Itty" as she is so much like Brighton as a baby in size -is wearing a dress all four girls have worn as babies. I found it at a thrift store over nine years ago.)
Been a busy year and sadly I have taken few pictures of the four girls together. Hit me this month Baby will be one soon!
One afternoon heading out for the creek I put four white dresses in the beach bag and let them play in the water in them that day.
These were my favs from that afternoon. . .
Lake ~ she's wearing a little dress Robert and I bought for Morgan one Christmas years ago - over a Hannahkate dress Brighton modeled last year.
Itty (Brighton) is wearing a dress Morgan wore in a wedding when she was about four. I like this dress much better well worn then it was new.
Morgan is wearing the dress that was the flower girl dress in my own wedding - thus the puffed sleeves of the 90's. :)
They were so much happier just doing their own thing and walking around exploring I hated to ask them to sit still for a picture,
but I'm glad I did - it's the first picture I have of them all together "posed." Would be cool to have a shot of them all together in the same
spot years from now. . .