Imagine, with me, the darkness, the waves, wet and chilled to the bone, and the fear of the disciples on the boat. They were in the midst of a physical storm. All their senses were on high alert. Waves are high as they crash into the side of the boat and cold as they splash in over the sides. Water up to their ankles and no sign of stopping. Can you hear, with me, the wind as it whistles around them? The sails of the small boat being whipped around like a drunken man that cannot stand. Darkness so dark they could barely see in front of them. Fear gripping at their sanity to the point they could barely move. They were in the midst of a terrible storm.
Have you ever felt fear like that? I have. Fear that grips you so tight you feel as though the world will come crashing down around you. While the terrible storms I have faced were not visible to others, they were very real for me. In every sense I have felt the waves crashing, the cold water splashing over the sides of my tiny boat, the wind ripping at my sails, and the darkness closing in around me. At some point I’m moving out of obligation, following along because that’s what is expected, but on the inside it’s all I can do to hold on.
Let’s leave these thoughts here and we’ll come back to them. Come now with me as I share with you a part of my story.
My journey in this life began on the mission field of Bolivia, South America. My parents had followed the Lord’s calling to reach the tribal people there. In December of 1979, I officially became a Naldrett. The first 6 years of my life had a few moments of uncertainty when it seemed my life would be cut short. As a two year old I developed fever so sever there was nothing my parents could do but pray, bathe me in cold water, and wait. They were isolated in the jungle of Bolivia and unable to get to a hospital. I recovered from but once again when I was two, my sister, brother, and myself were playing outside and death once again tried to take me, but God had other plans. As my brother, then seven, describes it: he was about to go inside with my six year old sister when he felt the need to turn around and check on me. What he saw was me hanging just inches from the ground caught in the rope swing which had twisted around my neck. He lifted me up and brought me in the house.
As a small child I did know about Jesus, but I had never opened my life to Him. He was not my personal Savior, but He knew me, He saw me, He loved me.
It wasn’t until December of 1986, when I was six years old, that I became fully aware of the One who loved me so much that he died for all the wrong things I had done so that I could live with Him forever in His home. As you know it wasn’t all smooth sailing from then on. I firmly believe that God allows trials and storms so our faith will be made stronger.
As I progressed into my middle school and high school years life went on normally; well as normal as it does for any missionary kid. I would not trade the years I had growing up in a 3rd world country though there are times I wonder if my life would have been less chaotic if my parents had not been called to serve. If we had stayed together as a family instead of being separated because of school and the work they were called to. (Let me pause here to say: I cannot speak for my siblings, but for me attending a boarding school was mostly a good experience.)
About a year after graduation my parents decided it was time to retire from missions, and we returned to the United States. Talk about culture shock. The United States is rich compared to the country I called home. So many different things to purchase, so many options laid out before me like a grand banquet. I became aware of the world pulling at me to follow this or that. Old friends, who were more like strangers, greeted me and tried to welcome me into their world, but I was overwhelmed by the changes. I was frustrated that, as welcoming as they were, they didn’t really seem interested in me and the experience I’d had. They tried, but couldn’t grasp it. Take the cultural shock, the well meaning friends, and warm cocoon of the sheltered life I had lead, and you see a person who began to stuff her feelings and emotions away.
To get away from my parents and try new things I stayed with a friend, who was a former MK. She was going to teach me to train service dogs, but I ended up working and becoming part of her world, which was crazy on the border of insane. The time I spent with her wasn’t all bad, but it is not a year I like to look back on because that is when my storms began.
Remember the darkness, the waves, the bone chilling wetness, and the fear that the disciples must have felt? During my year in a town that was two hours away from my parents I experienced depression so intense the darkness and fear threatened to swallow me whole. Anxiety, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts were becoming the norm for me. The fear clawing at me like a lion waiting to pounce on its prey. The intensity of the waves crashing against my boat tossing me to and fro, while the cold waters rushed in threatening to drown me. Where was God in all this? He was watching and waiting. He saw me where I was in the midst of my storm. If He loved me why was He only watching? He was waiting for me to acknowledge His presence and accept Him. So easy to say yet in the middle of the chaos so hard to do. I wanted help, but was afraid to let go. What was I really holding on to? All that I knew had been battered and bruised by the thrashing wind. All I had left was nothing. Yet God, in his intimate love for me saw me where I was. He saw the storm, the waves, the darkness, and the hurt, even the pain I inflicted upon myself and others. He saw the sadness that threatened to engulf me, and He saw that I was so afraid I could not move. All He required was for me to simply acknowledge Him. No strings attached. Just as He was there for the disciples He was there for me. His love for me is full of compassion. He reached down and pulled me up out of the sea. He calmed the waves and set me on solid ground.
What does God’s love mean to me? It means that Even so He sees me…. in the midst of whatever storm I am in He is there. He will never leave me to battle alone. He may only calm the waves and not remove the hardship because He wants me to learn to trust Him. His love for me allows the storms, but brings calmness to the seas. His love is the anchor in the midst of my storm. I’ll leave you with this…
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life
1. Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, When the clouds unfold their wings of strife? When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain, Will your anchor drift or firm remain? We have an anchor that keeps the soul Steadfast and sure while the billows roll, Fastened to the Rock which cannot move, Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
2. It is safely moored, ’twill the storm withstand, For ’tis well secured by the Savior’s hand; And the cables passed from His heart to mine, Can defy the blast, through strength divine.
3. It will firmly hold in the straits of fear, When the breakers have told the reef is near; Though the tempest rave and the wild winds blow, Not an angry wave shall our bark o’erflow.
4. It will surely hold in the floods of death, When the waters cold chill our latest breath; On the rising tide it can never fail, While our hopes abide within the veil.