Growing up my parents had made a deal with my brother and I that they would take us to Disney World some time before we left for college. By the time I was getting ready to graduate from high school, I asked them if we could just go to the beach for a week instead. They obliged.
We stayed in a friend’s little condo on the bay side of the Outer Banks. And we loved it.
That summer, ten years ago, I had just graduated from high school. I had a boyfriend named Adam who was just starting to give in to God’s calling on his life to become a youth pastor. I was excited and nervous to leave home for Cedarville University and wanted to be a teacher. I had no idea what the next years would bring or how my definition of “good” would be shaped.
After that initial vacation, we wanted to go back the next year…and the next…and the next. After the second summer in the little condo, we made plans to go back and rent a house with Adam’s family, who happened to be dear friends of my parents – our extended family long before marriage would bind us together for good.
“Dream Academy”. The beach house that has been our home away from home for the past 9 vacations. The house that’s wood paneling and outdated decor are as cheesy as it’s name. The house that we’re outgrowing but don’t want to leave.
Too many memories have been made there.
Too many laughs have been shared there.
Too much history is left on that sandy beach across the street.
As we enjoyed our 11th family vacation there last month, I couldn’t help but reflect on the last 10 years. I remembered pain and tears. I remembered intense joy and uncontrollable laughter. I remembered times of harmony as well as times of tension within our families. I remembered thunderstorms and blue skies and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. I remembered God’s faithfulness. And like David, I wondered why God has chosen to be so kind to us…
“Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” 1 Chronicles 17:16
Like the fences that line our favorite beach, each summer vacation spent there seemed to have been a fence post, a “stone of remembrance (1 Samuel 7:12)” in the life of my family and our relationships with the Lord…
The summer that my “childhood” ended and I looked with timid eyes toward leaving home and and becoming an adult.
The summer my dad’s neuropothy had gotten so intense that he was on heavy pain medication and had trouble walking or driving and we were begging God for answers.
The summer Adam’s grandmother passed away while we were states away on vacation.
The summer I walked down to the beach to watch “just another sunset” and walked back to the house a fiancé.
The summer I graduated from college, moved to join my husband in ministry, and came back to the beach as Adam’s wife.
The summer we didn’t know if we’d even be able to go on vacation because my dad had lost his job.
The summer we stared at the ocean and dreamt about the baby boy being formed in my womb.
The summer we were in the process of moving and waiting to give birth not only to our son, but also to a new ministry in a new church in a new town.
The summer we came back to the beach as the parents of a smiley, big blue eyed 10 month old named Isaiah.
The summer my brother couldn’t join us because he was searching and hoping for a teaching position.
The summer our hearts were anxious and impatient and discontent because we wanted to be pregnant again.
The summer our hearts were aching on vacation because our 2nd child was enjoying Heaven instead.
The summer Adam’s brother was unemployed and scared and discouraged and wandering.
The summer Adam’s brother couldn’t come with us because he had started a brand new job that he loves.
The summer we were humbled by God’s grace and goodness in having sweet Toby with us.
“…you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place…” Deuteronomy 1:31
“…The Lord your God has blessed you…He knows your going through this great wilderness. These years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” Deuteronomy 2:7
Despite God’s promises and proven faithfulness, Moses had to remind the fickle Israelites…
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, LEST YOU FORGET the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…”
Lest you forget.
I don’t want to forget and I want my kids to know…
“He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna…that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:3
“…that He might humble you and test you, to do you GOOD in the end.” Deuteronomy 8:16
We’ve been humbled. And tested. And I’m sure we will be again. And He promises it is so that He can continue to shake up our definition of “good”…
“And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the GOOD land He has given you.” Deuteronomy 8:10
We’ve been blessed. And it’s only because of His grace…
“Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this GOOD land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.” Deuteronomy 9:6
We don’t deserve it. We haven’t earned it. And if I forget, I’m in danger of thinking I’m somehow worthy of it…
“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land…with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant – and when you eat and are full, then TAKE CARE LEST YOU FORGET THE LORD…” Deuteronomy 6:10-12
Oh, Father, please help me to not forget…
“For your eyes have seen all the great work of the Lord that He did.” Deuteronomy 11:7
And I want to be the first to brag on Him for it all…
“HE is your praise.