You see this face? It’s real. She’s real. Her name is Sarah and she has a facebook page and an instagram account. As I drifted off to sleep beside this girl I had just met, I fully expected to wake up and find that she was simply an angel sent from God to take care of me and give me this life changing message: “I see you. I have you. I am faithful.”
...I didn't understand... I was in an RV with three kids headed clear across the country for 12 days while my dad was at home struggling to keep his heart beating and his body working. I didn’t understand why God would have me choose whether to stay with my dad or live life with my family on a much anticipated journey. I have done loss before and my greatest fear as I pulled out of the driveway was that I was again, doing it all wrong. I needed this time, if that is what it came to, to be different. I needed closure. I needed the time and opportunity to say all of the things I would look back and wish that I had said. I needed to be by his side if he took a turn for the worse so that I could share in the beauty of being eternally rescued by the Savior. So I prayed one simple thing: “Please God make it clear if I need to go home.”
I worried and the darkness came. The fiery darts of the enemy flew in the form of all encompassing fear, giant mountains and spanning landscapes. The beauty of the West was lost as the enemy replaced God’s majestic terrain with big, black ominous curtains. It felt as if my eyesight had changed and there was a dark tint on everything I saw and I felt sheer panic rise up in my heart. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this was spiritual, that I was under heavy attack of the enemy.
The warriors prayed. My sisters and brothers lifted me high up for rescue. They stood in the gap. They held hands and surrounded me from far away and placed shields around my heart. They declared the victory of the One who is way more powerful than evil and demanded that I be left alone. Soon, the peace began to fall, gentle like rain at first. A mere pitter patter of resounding grace. But my disbelief rang loud in my ears. How could the peace of God be bigger than all of the fears that were so real here on earth? I could see the horrible ending of my fears being played like a horror movie in my mind. The fear was palpable as I traveled in cross winds and on windy mountain roads with steep drop offs. I could see with my eyes all of the scary and honestly didn't believe that by simply declaring truth, it could change my heart. But there was a tiny seedling of faith. I grasped onto that faith for dear life and asked God to multiply it just as a friend had suggested I do. I gave God all I had, which did not seem like much. More peace fell, unexplainable and deep. I could physically feel what I knew to be the prayers of all those stepping in to help.
When I got the call saying I needed to fly home there was a huge sense of relief. My dad, the one who shields me from pain and who hides his own to spare me and my heart, was the one who told me to come home. I did not have to make a hard decision. I did not have to choose and wonder if I was making the right decision. God provided for me by making it abundantly clear what I was to do. This did not make it easy for me to leave my family behind but I had such peace knowing that I was exactly where God wanted me.
The airline delayed my flight out of Montana and as I looked down at my connecting flight I noticed that it was scheduled to leave 10 minutes before I was to land. I felt the urgency of needing to be home quickly and asked everyone I could for help in holding the plane. That plane, the one that was going to take me to my dad, left even earlier than scheduled. I ran to the gate anyway...just hoping. But they left me.
As I stood in line for two hours, knowing that the plane I missed was the last flight out for the night, I wondered why. Why God? Didn’t you send me here? Didn’t you make a way for me to have peace and know I was supposed to go home? I felt the feelings of forgottenness trying to rise up but I quickly reminded myself that He was in total control and had plans for me that night. Because of His provision and the peace He had given me, I knew that I was not slipping out of His control...that He must have a reason for this inconvenience...that somehow this was all part of His orchestration.
I also knew that in order to face what was awaiting me at home, I needed rest. I made small talk with the girl in front of me as I helped her with her bag. She said she had a back injury and standing in line was very hard for her. Her physical beauty struck me as she knelt on the ground for comfort. I looked back at myself and my disheveled clothes and puffy dark eyes and wished that I had not drawn so much attention from worried passerbys. As customer after customer was turned away to fend for themselves, a weird thought dropped into my heart : “Maybe we could split a room.” I am the girl who is scared of strangers. I make booby traps out of chairs and water bottles when I have to stay in hotels by myself. I do not trust easily and I for sure would never willingly go to sleep in the same locked room with a person I had never met. Still, this thought didn't feel bad. In fact, it sat quite well in my heart.
As I approached the counter, I prayed for God to give me the representative I would need to get another flight or a hotel room. I stepped up to the counter, face to face with the lady with a migraine. Contrary to the advice I was receiving about videoing the conversation and demanding this and that, I simply stated what I believed to be unfair and told the truth: I need to sleep. I have a family emergency and should have never been put on a plane that would trap me overnight in an airport. I went through two supervisors before my head went into my hands and I gave up with tears streaming down my face. The girl left her spot at the counter to come over to me and said, “Come with me! They gave me a room and two meal tickets and you can have one.” I didn't bat an eye. I didn't look back in my heart. I knew deep down that this was okay and good and safe. And then she quietly added, “And I love Jesus too and i'm not a freak.” Those last words were like a wire all the way from the heavens. I had known before that this was my rescue but the words she spoke sounded just like the voice of the Lord. So we left the counter together, relief flooding my heart.
She walked with me down the corridor as I sobbed, my heart aching to be with my dad. She asked me if I wanted to be alone and all I could think of was, no I want to be with you. In this moment, all of God's graciousness and goodness and faithfulness came pouring down on me like a holy rain. She reached out her hand with the kindest smile in the world and said, “I'm Sarah, with an h.”
I will never forget this moment. It was the moment I stopped crying. It was the moment I stopped worrying and wondering why and wishing for something different. I wanted to be right with Sarah because she was sent by God to tell me that He sees me. He was orchestrating every moment, every event, even the seemingly bad things, for His purpose. I wanted to be with her because I knew that with her was right in the middle of the road he had paved for me.
I got to spend 12 hours with a close friend I had never met. We shared secrets and hardships and joy and it was never even remotely uncomfortable. I didn't sleep with one eye open or my wallet underneath my back. In fact, as we were settling into bed, we discovered through facebook that we even have a mutual close friend! We laughed and I felt that joy amidst pain, but this time I was able to carry it further. I was able to lift my head and feel loved and protected despite my need. We chatted over breakfast about how it felt like we were on a girls trip. But God didn't stop there….Sarah is a writer too. And an intuitive feeler. And she has my life verse that God gave me only a month ago tattooed in hebrew on her arm.
So I don't know if you can tell but I am really smiling in this picture. My eyes are still puffy and I can see the evidence of being worn out and heartsick. But what I really see in this picture is joy. My life was changed this day. To Sarah, I may just be the crazy crying girl yelling at the airline people, but to me she is a symbol of one of the greatest gifts I have ever recieved: Promise. You see, the hard will still come and our hearts will still ache. But God showed me on this trip that His promises of strength and goodness are indeed bigger than anything in this world. This promise is my sword and I am quite sure I will need to be reminded to pull it out when I am tempted to to see in my flesh yet again.
Thank you Sarah for being obedient to what God must have told you to do. And thank you God for seeing each of us and for holding us tightly in your hand. You don't let go. You don't forget. You hold us tight. You keep your promises. You are the One who sees.
“She (Hagar) gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me’, for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” Genesis 16:13