There is one song that I have had on repeat more and more lately, more than any other song I own. That is the title track of Ellie Holcomb’s newest album Red Sea Road. One verse specifically reverberates through my mind wherever I go: How, can we trust/When You say You will deliver us from/All, of this pain, that threatens to take over us/Well, this desert’s dry/But the ocean may consume/And we’re scared, to follow You.
We are all scared and hurting, whether the pain is deep and profound or only a surface wound. God asks us to trust Him, to hand our burdens over to Him, and “He will direct our paths.” But what do we do when the path he sets before us appears more difficult and challenging than the one we are already on?
I cannot imagine experiencing more heartache than Abigail does in season 1 episode 7 of When Calls the Heart, titled “Second Chances.” Often, we find ourselves in the midst of a desert, in a circumstance that leaves our souls empty and dry. Abigail wanders in a desert of grief. After losing her husband and son in the mine explosion, she suddenly faces an unfathomable emptiness. She had been content and sure of her purpose in life, but she tells Elizabeth that she is “no longer a wife…no longer a mother.” When Elizabeth’s praise of Abigail’s cooking sparks an idea for earning income and presents a path towards a new purpose, she is faced with an ocean of change that may consume her entire sense of identity. Opening a cafe seems like the answer to many of Abigail’s difficulties, but she is also faced with the decision of relinquishing her home back to the mine company, which -in her mind- suggests giving away all the memories stored within it walls.
What would I do in the situation? I truly don’t know. So often, while my present circumstances are difficult, they seem easier to navigate than stepping into the unknown. I start to question God, asking “What if I do what you ask and things don’t change? What if it only makes everything worse? What if I end up back where I started? What if…” And I eventually talk myself out of following God’s direction. That is, until I remember to listen to His small and subtle whisper.
Just over a year ago, I miscarried our third child at 11 weeks. While I know many women experience far worse circumstances than I did, this loss marked me deeply. I broke down in tears. It wasn’t just the loss of a child; it was the loss of a dream. Somehow, I knew with the passing of the tiny little life, that our family would forever consist of my husband, myself, and our two boys. I love them all dearly, but I had held onto the dream of a third child so hard that it was heartbreaking to have God ask me to unclench my fists and let it go. I didn’t want to give that dream over to Him. How could He replace it with something better, something more important? From the desert of my crushed dream, the road ahead looked overwhelming and unbearable.
As Ellie Holcomb describes in her song, “Where He leads us to go/There’s a red sea road.” Now, I turn and look back over this most recent “Red Sea Road,” and I can see exactly how and where God parted the waves of sadness and disappointment and replaced them with a new purpose, a new path, and a new dream – within my family and within my friendships. I have learned that God’s ocean doesn’t consume – it restores.
In every circumstance where God has called me to step out onto a “Red Sea Road,” he has parted the waves of insecurity, fear, and pain to get me through to the other side. That doesn’t mean the road was joyful or easy. In fact, it was most often a road where I simply put one foot in front of the other, where I took each day as it came and asked God each morning to renew my purpose, until I could see the light. Just as Abigail stepped out into the ocean of uncertainty by moving into rooms above her new cafe and handing over the home where she had always been a wife and a mother, I have to remember that God’s will is always better, brighter, and more fulfilling than anything I know. In everything, He will be with me, walking along side, pushing back the overwhelming waves so that I can see Him.
Note: If you have not yet discovered Ellie Holcomb’s newest album Red Sea Road, check it out! It has become one of my all-time favorites.