Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Prettier When the Sun Goes Down

I’m pretty sure these days my trust in the Lord is the biggest it’s ever been. My faith is deeper than it was three months ago. My awareness of God, my reliance on Him, my realization of my need for Him...it’s becoming increasingly evident every day. More on that in a bit...

I lived a gypsy life this summer. I was a nomad, always on the road. For two and a half months, I never spent more than five nights in a row in the same bed. There was a road trip to Nashville, a wedding in Colorado, a surprise trek to Utah, camping in Georgia, church camp in Florida, a few more weeks in Tennessee, vacation in Michigan, an unexpected trip to Wisconsin, and then back to Michigan again...with a couple days in Illinois and Indiana.

To most people, that’s a headache. It’s busy and hectic and middle schoolers are involved, so AUGH. But for me...it’s my lifeblood. I love the crazy. I thrive in the chaos. Never once did I feel like I was “away from home.” The places I went, the people I was with...I had home with me the whole time. It was magical.

But summer always comes for an end (my entire life has been a struggle to accept this concept). The schedule changes. There is still crazy and there is still chaos, but it’s a different pace. Now at 1am, my head hits the same pillow. I actually sleep under the covers now, instead of a sleeping bag on top of my bed. My laundry gets put away in drawers instead of tucked right back in my suitcase.* I actually see my roommate!

So that’s good, right? Things should be getting easy, life is good, enjoy the slow down and relax? Ha! Enter God with His “bet you didn’t see this one coming” card. These last six weeks have been challenging, to say the least. There are students struggling with parents and parents struggling with how to deal. I have friends struggling in their marriages and friendships and workplaces. There are high school girls...enough said!

And I’m struggling! God is throwing at me all sorts of questions of identity and calling and purpose and things I didn’t see coming. He’s stretching me and testing me and like I said at the beginning, showing me how I need to be totally dependent on Him. His plan. His ways. We talked in Sunday School this weekend about Jacob wrestling with God, and that’s how life feels a lot lately. Late nights not sleeping and long days at the beach spent in solitude and prayer. Nights and days wrestling with God. It’s hard, it’s messy, it’s real life. 

And it’s GOOD. I’m okay with this right now! I see how I’m learning, growing, trusting more. The struggle is real, but it’s how we grow. After Jacob wrestled with God, he didn’t walk away the same. He had a new name. He had a jacked up hip. An encounter with God always leaves us changed. 

Last night God wrote a message in the sky. It was one of those evenings when a drive to the beach to catch the sunset just needed to happen. It rained the entire drive there, but I believe God has a special love in his heart for AMI, and the clouds parted in time for the most perfect neon sunset.

Big clouds always make the best sunsets...they reflect the colors in ways a clear sky simply can’t. Here's picture 14 of about 256.

And it just kept getting better. The orange ball of the sun dropped completely, but as minutes went by the sky kept growing brighter and bigger and more beautiful. I call it the after set, so let’s pretend that’s a real word. Katie (because what’s a beach trip without her?) looked out and said, “I feel like it’s always prettier when the sun goes down.”

Brilliance. Prettier when the sun goes down. It’s funny, because the sun always gets the credit in a sunset. But what about the afterset? Once the sun’s down, onlookers leave. But those who stay? What happens is always breathtaking. The afterset clouds are where the true beauty is reflected. 

My life feels a bit cloudy lately. But they are the best clouds I’ve ever seen. Reflected in the storm are not only blessings of family and friends and a little one-year-old roommate who is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, but blessings of peace that come with living in the will of God. Blessings of conversations that nourish my soul and the deepest, most intimate times with God as I wrestle.

And also I’m reminded that the best is yet to come. At camp we have “warm fuzzies,” little notes of encouragement the staff write to one another. Last week I read through my box of fuzzies from 2007 (I'm a hoarder), crying and laughing and thinking about if I only I knew then what the next seven years would hold. That’s a crazy thought. 2007 Sarah never saw 2014 Sarah coming. So much I never expected or imagined. 2007 was a great year, but I never thought that seven years later life would be even more full and good. So then there’s this: what happens in another seven years? 

The sunset is beautiful, but what beauty does the afterset hold? 

*Ok let’s be honest...the clean laundry sits in a basket until I wear it again. Maybe, just maybe, it gets folded...but then it sits in that nice pile on my floor until I wear it again. The day the clothes actually make it back into the closet? Usually right about when I have a huge research paper to write...like right about now.

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