When You Need Something Bigger Than A Sunset

It would be the perfect ending to a fabulous day. After driving 1,500 miles through beauty, we still craved more.

We hunger, and we ache to be satisfied. And I still forget I was created for a different world.

We made plans and confirmed the exact minute God would sweep red and vibrant pink across the stone-and-cave canvas. Yes, witnessing the sunset over the Grand Canyon would satisfy the summer craving I just couldn’t put into words.

I was sure of it.

Earlier, I watched my son capture something bigger than himself…


… and saw my daughter re-create instead of design. Saw her surrender instead of control.


They were hungry. Just like their mama.

Have you craved beauty, too? Have you hungered after crumbs because that’s all you thought there was? Have you scribbled only to remember you’re not the Author?

I see you trying to carve a masterpiece but instead desperately stabbing at the form you want to redeem. The job of Savior is already taken.

Show me Your beauty, God. Show me Your glory. I was finally ready to thirst after the One who could satisfy. Ready to lean into the One I had danced away from with my worry and wandering. I really was.

Gradually, slowly, the desert air reflected the confusion within. I heard the slightest sound and felt the breeze and watched the crowd wait for more. The mystery lingered. Sometimes you’re too busy for answers, and waiting prepares your heart for truth.

The sky — it became a shadow too fast. The dark wrapped itself around us faster than the sun could paint the masterpiece.

No! The sunset! This was my only chance to see His beauty the way everyone else does. We wouldn’t be back tomorrow.

Rain, rain, go away. This wasn’t my story. Wasn’t my song.

But it was.


The canyon, well, it’s so big. And vast. And you watch the storm inch toward you instead of surprising you like city rain. You read the story as it takes a different form, and your heart almost has time to catch up.

You think You need to see beauty, my Maker whispered. No. Not this summer.

You need to see My strength.

People ran, grabbing their children’s hands, while the brave tried to capture the moment. Tiny mortals sought shelter from something they couldn’t control. My kids watched thirsty and drank it in, letting the strength imprint their hearts instead of turning away to hide.

How can I make them run? How can I make them seek shelter when they’re brave enough to be exposed?


I plan to be comfortable. I dream of somehow satisfying those longings I can’t even identify. I commend myself for trying to be still so I can notice the beauty.

But I recently told a friend we might just stop searching because what we long for doesn’t exist.

Yes! It’s so true, isn’t it? she agreed. We long for something that’s not even here.

I see your tender heart, weary from worry, craving comfort. I see you willing to surrender because you’re tired of fighting.

But friend, maybe the storm will show you something greater than beauty ever could.

Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters…

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,
        declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:1, 8-9 niv

Yes, come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…

And in His grace, when we refuse to come to the water, He brings it to us.


10888478_10203590246578826_910944565872039823_n Be strong, I thought as I silently scolded my quivering voice. Deep breath. Don’t you dare let those eyes water.

“I’m sorry this is your story,” I said to my 13 year-old.

“I’m sorry this is your story, too,” he replied.

My goodness, how does he do this? How does he balance between childhood one minute and manhood the next? I was trying to comfort him, and he let his tenderness spill out, flowing right toward me like a stream I wasn’t expecting.

We were talking about nothing life-threatening. Nothing that would look tragic to someone on the outside. To us, though, the ache we whispered about, the pain that was reaching both our hearts, was real. It was a simple conversation in the car that suddenly turned intimate.

And here we all are — well into the second half of 2015. I had intentions of taking a seat at the table again as we approached mid-year. July 1. It would be a Happy New Year and a Half post, full of reflection and challenge and grace as we pondered where we all were on December 31, 2014… and what we were hoping for on January 1.

But sometimes you literally can’t find words. Sometimes you must wait for your mind and heart to intersect again, in what you know and believe to be true, before you bring words into the equation. And as hard as it is to give yourself grace in the silence, sometimes it’s your season to be quiet. When you can’t find clarity within, it’s certainly hard to join the conversation again — especially that cyber one.

I remember back to last New Year’s Eve. I was weary, carrying burdens that really weren’t mine to carry. I was in the company of dear friends and slipped away for a moment, succumbing to social media numbing myself with social media. And somehow, I stumbled upon this photo of a street called “Hope” victoriously giving direction through the brokenness.

This will be my story in 2015, I determined. I am choosing Hope. A picture says a thousand words, and this would be my voice. So I boldly posted and shared this photo of Hope personified. Thank goodness we can’t see the future, for if we did, we’d be constant cynics.

“They’re really struggling,” I said to my husband recently.

“Who isn’t?!” he replied. It wasn’t said in disgust, but almost in a comforting tone.

I read between the lines. He was speaking truth again. We’re not lone victims, Christan. Our chapters read differently, but we’re all surrounded with the reality that we were made for a different Place.

We’re all kind of aching for something that doesn’t exist here, yes?

Another school year’s about to start. And you know what a whirlwind fall is, as we hold on tightly and watch life quickly unfold into new stories. It’s easy for me, come August, to mentally place myself in the autumn cool and the bustling holidays and another calendar year coming to a close. We blink, and what in the world?! We’re already Christmas shopping after stocking up on pencils and glue sticks and notebooks galore.

But this year I’m choosing to mentally place myself half-way through 2015. Seven months down, five to go. Am I still clinging to Hope? Watch closely, I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none. Isaiah 43:19

I’m still so thirsty, and I’m really needing those streams in my desert. I look at my friends, my dear community near and far, and they’re choking on broken relationships and cancer and parenting aches and racial inequity and loneliness and mental illness and more. They need grace to wash it all down. My friends — those I hold dear have carried quite a bit in 2015.

And if I’m not careful, I start doubting in my mind what I know to be true in my heart… I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none. 

But in the voice of a child, or in a young teenager this time, I’m reminded that I am seen, and those I love are not forgotten, and Hope really does rise boldly out of the rubble.

“I’m sorry it’s your story, too, Mom.” You see, I was resenting the fact that sometimes you just can’t protect your kids, and out of nowhere, I drank in empathy. And tenderness. And I saw facets of God’s character I had been ignoring.

Whatever it was you were hoping for on January 1, let yourself go back to that place. My intentions are not always yours, explains the Author, and I do not go about things as you do. My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you… My word will go out and not return to Me empty, but it will do what I wanted; it will accomplish what I determined. Isaiah 55:8-11

And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts. Romans 5:5