It was during the Celebration Service that it all began. We were in the midst of celebrating with our church folks and with several other church congregations all that God had done through our week of Missions and Ministry with Ocoee Outreach from Cleveland, Tennessee. We had just sat down to eat, when one of our own became sick.
My husband, the Pastor and leader of our group, carried the young girl and her mother to the Emergency Room. The rest of us stayed behind to take part in the activities of the night. Within an hour, Jayden, our daughter became sick also. I was not prepared for what was about to take place.
Jayden’s condition began to deteriorate fast. Before I could get her into our room to wash her up and change her clothes, she was vomiting in the floor. It was uncontrollable. If she moved the slightest bit, it started all over. She was burning up with fever. I couldn’t clean up before the next onslaught came. Finally it subsided long enough for her to get a quick shower.
Before I could get her settled in bed and call for help, she was at it again. Now we both needed a bath and there was a bed and a floor that needed cleaning. I was never so glad to see my husband walk through the door than I was at that moment. He cleaned up the room and called for more linen and towels as I was cleaning myself and Jayden.
Fortunately for us, our Pediatrician’s Nurse was with us on the trip. I stand amazed at how God always provides. She had packed several kinds of medicines, but the most valued was the ones for nausea. By this time we had three girls sick with the same stomach bug. Around two in the morning, Jayden finally fell into a deep sleep.
I lay there beside her and all I could think was, we are supposed to leave for home tomorrow.
8 hours away!!!
How I wanted to just be home.
There was no way she could travel like this. I dosed off only to be awaken at four to start the process all over again. During the early morning hours her fever left, but coming in its place was horrible, fast striking diarrhea. It was one of the longest nights of my life.
Our team began packing after breakfast that Friday morning to head back to SC, while Mike, our nurse and the other young lady headed to the Emergency Room where she was admitted into the hospital. The other young lady who had gotten sick the night before was better now. Mike and our youth minister made arrangements for us to stay and for us to have a rental car to travel in. Soon, our team was on the road home and Mike was headed back to the hospital to carry suitcases and medicines.
Jayden and I were left alone at the motel. Jayden could hold nothing down and now, everything that came from her was green. I had never seen her so violently sick. By noon, we had gone through all of her clothes. Again I was calling for more linens and toiletries. If only she handle the ride to the hospital, but she couldn’t even raise her head without getting sick. We were in a mess.
Mike returned as soon as he could with lunch and new clothes. Jayden awoke and wanted something to drink and eat for the first time since she had gotten sick the night before. She drank some water and ate half of a roll before she went back to sleep. Mike stayed with her while I walked around the motel.
I made my way to the court-yard before I feel in a heap from exhaustion. I began to cry in agony. Looking up I questioned, “Where are you God? Where are you? Do you not see us here? Do you not care? She’s so sick. To sick to even walk! How can this be happening? We came here for You and where are You now?”
A breeze began to blow over me, caressing me in the heat of the day. “I’m here, right here, child. I’m here with you. I’m the one who strengthened you through the night. I’m the one who stilled the fever. I’m the one who told the nurse to bring the medicines. I’ve seen each tear. I’ve seen it all child. I’ve been right here through it all. You are not alone.”
All that week, I had wanted to feel His presence, to feel His touch. I had so longed to have a special encounter with Him, but it had not come. I had seen Him move in so many others. Watched as they glowed in His touch. But it was there, in the heat of the day, face down on Tennessee grass, that I had my special moment. It was there that Daddy pulled me into His arms and held me.
I cried for my daughter, I cried for myself, and then I cried as the sweet love of God showered over me. I cried and cried until there were no tears left. It was then that the peace that goes beyond all understanding overwhelmed me. I raised myself up with strength I did not possess before ready to face whatever the day brought.
Just as I was turning to go back to the room, I caught a glimpse of something. It was there in the Magnolia tree. One lone flower. The others lying on the ground in a wilted heap. But that one lone flower was surviving through it all. It was my “God wink”. My reassurance that we were going to survive this and any other difficulty that came our way, because we had God as our Father.
Scripture after scripture reminds us that we are never alone. He is always with us. No matter our circumstances, no matter our storm or trial. God is with us. He never forsakes His children. He is our refuge and our strength. It would be easier I suppose to never go through any hardships, but then how would I know what it is like to be held in times of trouble? How would I know what it was like to be strengthened when all my strength is gone? How would I know what it was like to hear the voice of God speaking softly to my soul?
Sometimes God allows us to enter a place in life where all we can do is “Be still and know that He is God”. I am very thankful for those times. Even though they hurt and are hard, they can not defeat or destroy us.
He is our refuge.
He is our God.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
That afternoon, Jayden ate a whole dinner roll. We carried her for fluids on Saturday morning and she began to regain her strength. She was able to eat most of her lunch and keep it in.
We left Cleveland late that Saturday night. It was a long and dark journey to reach our destination. The sun rose as we entered South Carolina. Just days earlier I had longed for home, cried for it. But home for me is not found in South Carolina. My home is where I was at, in the heat of the summer sun, on Tennessee soil. It was there I was home, safely cradled in my Father’s arms. For us who are called by His name, home is anywhere the Father is. And we can rest assured that He is omnipresent.
We are never alone!!