The long trek would become a regular event, a family holiday of sorts. When our youngest son chose a college in Florida, we knew that we would soon have to adapt to the nineteen-hour trip from our living room to his dorm room. To make the trip a bit more bearable, we would schedule our vacation weeks around college pick-up and drop-off days, taking those opportunities to squeeze in a few restful days of family fun. With the stunning Smoky Mountains located at the half-way point, we determined that Tennessee would be the perfect spot to rent a cabin for our little brood, and we committed to the task of sketching out some lasting memories before the quietness of an empty nest would be upon us. Some of our greatest memories would made high in those misty mountains, celebrating the waning years of our beloved family unit.
One memory from those days always makes me giggle, and that would involve the shopping trip into the small town located at the foot of those majestic mountains. Once my sons married and dedicated themselves to the task of pleasing their wives, those boys would mature into patient shoppers, but when it was Mom who wanted to shop, the rolled eyes, bored expressions, and loud sighs would be evident for all to see and hear. Our youngest daughter could wile away hours in a book store, driving her brothers to the brink of boredom suicide, and when Mom got into the chime store, yikes, they knew that they were doomed. I loved the Corinthian Wind Chime store. Those handcrafted beauties mesmerized me, that delicate, relaxing, resonance creating a trance-like expression on my face. I could listen to them for hours…a fact to which any of my bored sons could attest.
I always had a unspoken desire in my heart to walk out of that store with one of those beauties tucked under my arm; to hang that glorious piece of art in my window to enjoy in the solitude of my own little cabin at home. But I would never make that request aloud, for those chimes were so pricey, and with youngsters in college, the budget could not have endured that purchase. It would remain my own private desire on my own personal wish list.
Long years would pass by so quickly, that little family would marry and scatter, grandchildren would arrive, and the giggles and laughs from those mountain cabins would melt away into fond memories. Those happy days spent atop those mountains would gradually fade away, until God awakened my memory and cemented them so firmly that time could never again destroy them. It would happen on an evening set aside to honor the seniors at our Christian academy. I was blessed to direct the high school choir, and since this was the year of my retirement, honor’s night would be one of the last times that I would stand before them and lead them in praise to their Creator. My heart was flooded with emotions…thankfulness for the many years with which I had been privileged to share the wonder of music with these awesome students, anticipation of the new stage of life ahead for them, and sadness as I pondered the fact that the curtain was closing on my teaching career. But God had a surprise for His child.
It was customary on those evenings for the young people to present gifts to their coaches, those who had impacted their lives and invested so many hours into their growth and development. I’m not a ‘coach,’ but I was given a gift that evening by those young people who had become family to me. I was utterly speechless as I opened the enormous box handed to me by our pianist. Could this even be possible?
One of the first verses that I memorized decades ago when Christ became my Shepherd was “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.” I have clung to that verse in the darkest moments of my life, reminding myself that I have a Father Who sees, Who knows my heart, understands my innermost desires, a God Who is the epitome of love, grace, and kindness. As I opened that box, I saw God perform an extraordinary act of love, for in that box was a huge Corinthian Wind Chime, an exact replica of the ones that I would stare at for hours, but ‘knew’ that I would never own. I was amazed, humbled, and overwhelmed by His goodness.
I read a letter to my students the following Monday, sharing with them the fact that they had been used of God to bless my heart and revive a long-lost memory. I choked back tears as I retold my cabin story to them and reminded them that God knows the deepest recesses of our hearts, and He is always good. As that bell gently tolls in my window today, I am bathed in the love of a God Who understands me because He formed me, and am immersed in the memories of family fun in a hideaway cabin, and the faces of students who are etched in my heart.
God sees the desires of your heart. He understands your hurts, fears, loneliness, frustrations, and sadness. He sees YOU. Not even the smallest parts of our lives are hidden from His attention and control. He asks us to commit our lives to Him, to place ourselves in His providential care and unfathomable love. He asks us to trust Him, as a child places their hand in their father’s hand and knows that they will be safe. And in those moments when we need it the most, He reminds us of His love in the most unusual ways. In the troubling days in which we find ourselves, that is a comfort, is it not?
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