Don's Journey - written on June 16
I am looking out across the white sands of Indian Shores to the beautiful green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The sound of the ocean is peaceful. I hear it when I awaken several times each night, and each time it sounds the same. It is absolutely relentless and consistent. Even when the water is calm, the waves still turn into white foam and make a distinctive sound like no other.
Last evening, we beheld one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. The sky was on fire, ringing all the clouds with white light that faded into shades of crimson. The sea and the sky are so vast. It is difficult for even the most determined atheist to deny the existence of a Grand Artist while viewing such grandeur. Yet, many do just that. A combination of forces coalesce to convince some people that everything we view and experience happens through a lifeless series of causes and effects through countless years. It would take more faith for me to believe that approach to life than to believe in a personal God who created and sustains all that we see.
Gail and I are so blessed to have such a wonderful family. All of our children are here this week, which is a major feat as they get older and live their adult lives with all of its demands. It has been exactly a year-and-a-half since we received the news of cancer invading Gail’s body. I tend to be someone who reflects on these milestones and try to determine if there have been lessons learned and experiences to celebrate. Are there lights amidst this darkness for which I should be thankful? A resounding, “Yes!”
There is something I’ve learned about my children, including my sons-in-law and my grandson. Their love for their mother and father has been as relentless and consistent as the waves crashing to the shore, and as beautiful as a magnificent sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Their love toward Gail and I, and their determination to learn from God about this difficult season is even greater evidence of a personal, loving God, who makes beauty from ashes.
Were it not for our children, this trying time would be far more miserable. They’ve all arranged their schedules around this trip – and they wanted to do so in the worst way. Over the months, they have cared for us at every turn. They’ve driven and flown many miles, many times, to be with their parents, especially their mother. They’ve helped us with major projects around the house, arranged for needs to be met, and, they’ve been at the hospital every other Friday so much so that nearly the entire staff in the infusion clinics know them well. Gail’s doctor knows them well and always asks what’s up with them. I say this because he is a true scientist with a personality that sometimes finds it difficult to be relational. My daughters are the perfect cure for any lack of relational skills. We deeply appreciate him and his care for Gail and the girls bring a broad smile to an otherwise serious face. The list of their expressions of love could continue for pages.
Perhaps you are asking, “Don, didn’t you already know that your children loved you that much?” One may confidently know that they have strong muscles, but the pleasure derived from actually lifting a weight that stretches one’s capability is fulfilling. Our family has always been filled with love for one another, but the past year and-a-half have caused my kids to flex their muscles of love like never before. I am told that some families fall apart as the result of situations like this. Mates leave one another, children argue and bicker, parents judge their children and love muscles are shown to be weak.
In the midst of this daily struggle for Gail and I, once again I have learned something valuable and worthy of much praise. I am deeply thankful for my children. I learn from them weekly and my cup is overflowing with gratitude. If I’ve known any success in life, by far my greatest accomplishment is my children. Whatever level I’ve participated in their development as God’s children is the greatest thing I’ve done.
So, I will return to the sounds of the ocean and the beauty of the skies as I enjoy the love of our family and of a God who loves us even more than we love each other.