“What color bathing suit was your son wearing?”
The Sheriff’s voice on the other end of my cell phone is calm, matter of fact. He can’t see my wrinkled brow as I struggle to recall the photo I’d taken of my son four hours earlier.
He was standing ankle deep in the river wearing a red life vest and…
“Black knee-length swim trunks.”
“How much does he weigh?”
Am I really having this conversation? I’ve never dialed 911 to report a missing person, or in this case, persons. My teenage son went river rafting with my grown daughter and her boyfriend.
And now I’m standing on a tall embankment, with my husband, staring down at the river’s swift current. Thankfully, the water is shallow, but the boulders on the riverbed would have slowed their progress; made the trip challenging.
What if the raft deflated? What if someone’s injured? What if they’re stranded on a riverbank?
“I wouldn’t bother you Sheriff, but they should have been here an hour ago. And the sun is setting!”
My voice is steady, but there are high-pitched voices in my head: What if they got separated from each other? What if their raft was carried further down river?
Warm skin tingles as dusk settles over the mountains, ushering in a cool breeze. What if they have to spend the night outdoors?
“Stay by your phone,” he says. “I’m calling search and rescue.”
His words conjure horrific news reports. I tell myself, Don’t go there!
My husband and I drive a short distance along a gravel road that parallels the river. We stop, searching the horizon for signs of life.
Within minutes, my heart jumps. “A beige raft!”
“How many people?”
“I only see two.”
I wave my arms like sheets in the wind until my daughter waves back with her paddle.
“Three, I see three people!”
My husband hurries down the dirt path to the river’s edge while I notify the Sheriff. “We found them!”
Three exhausted, dripping wet, shivering bodies walk into my eager embrace. They reassure us, “We weren’t in danger.” But relief is written on their somber faces.
A half hour later, back at camp, night is dark as coal. Tears stream down my cheeks as I praise God for protecting our children, and sparing us from the multitude of what ifs that could have happened. But didn’t.
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22, 23)
Monday morning greets me in a pretty fashion, but I emerge from bed and hurry out the door with … an attitude.
Meet with people, fulfill commitments, and run those errands. At the end of the day I’m … frustrated.
What’s wrong with that person? Why can’t that place be more efficient? Can you believe the price of gas?
Tuesday brings more of the same … frustration.
I feel like a kite tethered to earth. I could soar to great heights if it were not for that person, that situation that drags me down.
By Wednesday, I’m in a MOOD! “Get Out of My Way!”
Life feels like a maze and I’m running into walls, bumping heads, hitting dead ends. Is there any way out?
That afternoon, I get alone to open The BOOK and meet with God in HIS WORD when it DAWNS on me!!!
It’s not them, him, her, or the price of gas. It’s ME.
In my tyranny of the urgent, I’ve raced through each day without eating my BREAD. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who cones to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
JESUS: The “wonderful counselor, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1) has been absent from my mind these past few days … even though I know in my heart He is “Immanuel, God with us.”
Frustration wanes like the moon while the Holy Spirit convicts my soul. I’m the root of the problem, the common denominator of all my frustration. Fatigue would have me stay at home, but it is Wednesday night so I go to church where no one knows I have an attitude.
When the sermon is over, I participate with other saints in the Holy act of communion. With head bowed and eyes closed, I confess my rotten, horrible, bad attitude…AND the “lack of quality time spent with Him” that led to such a dismal state of mind.
Worship music fills the room, but silence seals my lips as I seek forgiveness. I mentally run to the cross where I “drink His blood and eat His broken body” in remembrance of Jesus the Christ who died for me.
Praise music reaches a crescendo. With tear-stained cheeks, I stand with upraised arms. Frustration, as well as guilt, subsides…..replaced by another attitude.
An Attitude of GRATITUDE
I kick off my high heels after a day of substitute teaching and head for the couch. Heavy eyelids beg for a catnap, but weary muscles suggest a walk.
Catnap wins. I lean into the cushioned armrest, listening to the wall clock’s advancing second hand. But instead of it lulling me to sleep, I hear conviction: “You should walk before it gets dark, you should walk before it gets dark.”
My stiff joints squeak like the Tin Man in Oz as I push myself up from the couch.
“Sorry,” I respond to defiant limbs. “It’s the New Year. Either we lose weight or we buy a bigger pair of jeans.” Lose weight wins. I shove my AARP feet into tennis shoes and head outdoors.
The calendar says it’s January, but the sun-kissed day makes it feel like April. My heart leaps knowing the cold ground will soon give birth to Daffodil bulbs. Pine trees and leafless Oaks line the asphalt street cheering me onward as an “acclivity” looms before me.
FYI: “the definition of acclivity: an ascending slope (as of a hill).” That was one of the vocabulary words in our Literature class today. I don’t know about the students, but I learned something.
Heart pounding, chest heaving, I take baby steps until the road flattens ____________
When I’m halfway around our three mile loop, I peel off my scarf and vest. I’d quicken my pace, but it feels as though my legs are dragging an anchor through lake water. Voices in my head drown the music on my IPOD: Out of shape! Use it or lose it!
My breath catches as a jackrabbit darts across my path and disappears into the wooded landscape……
Dare I behave like Alice in Wonderland and chase that silly rabbit? A smile stretches across my face as my thoughts turn outward, and then upward,
Where a three-quarter moon, upstaged by the western sun’s golden glow, peeks through a powder blue curtain. My stride increases, matching the rhythm of Casting Crown’s praise album dancing in my ear.
Eyes fixed heavenward, I raise my hand to honor HIM who made the day, “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24),
and dwell on the ONE who “made the moon for the season; The sun knows the place of its setting.” (Psalm 104:19)
After my walk, I kick off my tennis shoes. And bright-eyed, look out my kitchen window as heaven’s blue canvas melts into a rosy hue.