Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Exceeding Joy of Rained-out Vacations

My husband went on a business trip, and obligingly let me and my little nursling tag along. My generous sister-in-law was even willing to take the three big kids for four days and continue homeschooling them in my absence. (It's definitely a blessing to have another homeschooling mom in the family!). So on Monday afternoon, Don, Abby and I boarded a plane in Boston and headed to Orlando for some necessary business and some fun in the sun.

Abby was a doll on the plane ride, bouncing happily in the beginning and end, nursing on the way up and down, and sleeping on my lap in the middle. Since I tend to get sick on plane rides myself, I am very thankful for children who tolerate them well. Our flight was delayed about 20 minutes by some bad weather, but we eventually landed, and my ear popped enough to relieve the painful pressure I had experienced in the air. After a long trek and then a wait at baggage claim, we gathered our suitcases and went to pick up our rental car. Although we were staying on Disney property during the conference and a shuttle was provided, I had requested renting a car for a day so that we could spend a few hours at Cocoa Beach, just an hour away from Orlando. Why come all the way to Florida without seeing the ocean? Don had agreed that it would be fun if we rented a cool sporty convertible to cruise to the beach, so we went to the rental counter to pick up our Ford Mustang.

Except, the Mustang wasn't there. They wanted to give us a Sebring instead, but we had paid for a Mustang convertible. After a few minutes, a suitable car was found, and we crammed our suitcases, stroller, and selves into the black sportscar. It was now much later than I had anticipated leaving the airport, and the skies looked ominous, so we weren't sure if driving all the way to the beach was a good idea. We decided to take our luggage to the hotel and make a decision there. We drove with the top up, because it was raining, and Abby - who had been so sweet and wonderful on the plane ride - screamed the entire way. The car had great pick-up, but the headrests were uncomfortable, and the voice commands took ages to respond correctly. At check-in, there was a brief scare where Don thought that we were being charged $500 to add Abby and me to the room (thankfully it was just a misunderstanding!). Then we found our way through the maze of the resort paths and halls to our room, and breathed a small sigh of relief.

In case you haven't guessed by now, we weren't going to the beach. As much as we wanted to, the thought of driving all the way there only to find rain was discouraging. Abby was asleep in her carseat, so we headed out to dinner at the Outback instead. Some good food helped the evening take a turn for the better, and then we returned the rental car and rode the shuttle bus back to our resort. Our room was nothing terribly special, but it was cleaner than some hotels where we have stayed, and it was nice to finally relax.

On Tuesday morning, I had planned to take care of some business computer tasks and get a tan by the pool. God had other plans, though; the internet was painfully slow, and it rained all morning. A mid-day overcast sky gave me just enough time to take a walk with Abby before more rain came. We were here in Florida, the Sunshine State, and the sun was nowhere to be seen. With no beach, unfavorable pool weather, no where to go without stepping outside, and a slow internet connection, the cable TV was starting to look like the highlight of the trip. As I walked along winding paths through the muggy grayness, I wondered what God was trying to say to me. I wasn't happy, but I knew that He is in control. For some reason, He saw fit to send rain.

Back in the hotel room, as I wondered what God was saying, I clearly felt Him tell me to listen. I hadn't bothered to pack a Bible, since I knew it would be accessible on my phone and laptop, but thankfully the Gideons had placed one in my dresser drawer. I opened it up somewhere in the middle to see how the Lord would speak to me through His Word, and here is what I read:

Psalm 43
Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.
For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.
Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Isn't it amazing that when we listen, God speaks? There in a simple Psalm, He clearly told me: "I am your health, your beauty, your joy. Sunshine and swimming pools can't give you the joy that I can. When you feel discontent, and things aren't going perfectly, look at ME! I am Light and Truth and the Way. Come to me, because here is not some shallow, sun-kissed happiness, but deep and lasting exceeding joy!"

And by God's grace, on Wednesday, the sun came out. I probably wouldn't have appreciated it so much if it hadn't rained on Monday and Tuesday. And I may never have looked up and wondered and read and remembered that no matter what the weather, exceeding joy is mine in Christ.

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