“And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39 (KJV)
Storms come up lightning-fast here in the mountains.
You can be sitting here in the stillness one minute, and flurrying around closing windows and praying for safety the next.
The other day, one came up out of nowhere, with no warning.
The hail was hitting the windows with such force, it sounded like someone was pounding them with rocks.
When storms hit here, I have noticed something.
While the rest of us are fretting, rushing to look outside,
nervous and upset,
Dad Smith remains unbothered.
He sits in his favorite spot and watches as we go all to pieces.
He is quiet and steadfast and unmoved.
This World War II Veteran has seen a lot worse than any of us.
The other day, Kevin took him to the Veterans Administration Hospital for an appointment.
As Dad held to his walker, walking up the ramp, another Veteran walked up behind him.
“What were you in, World War II?” he asked.
“Yes”, Dad replied.
“Wow! I thought so.” There was deep respect in his voice.
As they reached the door, Dad said to him, “You go in first…go on around us. I’m kind of slow.”
The stranger stood still and said, “No way. You go first. You’ve earned it.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The older I get, the more I admire his strength and fortitude.
It comforts me when he is physically able to join us at the table for meals.
There is just something about him sitting there, in his rightful place,
at the head of the dining room table.
When he is too weak to make the trek from the living room, just a few steps away, it is just not the same.
Dad S. is a strong man.
Not so much physically, anymore.
He used to be.
I remember the day he could measure up to the strongest of men and work as hard as anyone I’ve ever known.
These days, he is failing…. becoming steadily more feeble.
It hurts to watch this process.
I lived through it with my own dear parents, and now I walk hand-in-hand with Kevin as he makes this same journey with his.
It is beyond difficult to watch the ones who have always taken care of you turn into the ones who need you to take care of them.
It is a downright painful process to reverse roles.
Dad’s strength isn’t so evident on the outside these days, but it shines through in his character.
The other day, when the hail was hitting the windows and everyone else was alarmed,
I looked over at him.
I needed to see his reaction.
“It’s just a storm”, he said, in his reassuring way.
There was just something about his serene demeanor that calmed me right down.
He has lived long enough to realize that storms are inevitable,
they don’t last forever,
and it is futile to waste energy on worrying about them.
I wonder just how many storms he has lived through in his 89 years?
How many times has he looked into a cloud-darkened sky and felt the wind on his face?
How many times has he survived and kept going?
Probably more times than he even remembers.
I fully realize I am one of the blessed ones.
I dearly love my in-laws, and they mean the world to me.
More than ever, now that Mom and Dad are gone, I draw from their strength, wisdom, stability, wellspring of love, and especially their old-time values.
People like them are a vanishing breed, rare and hard to find.
Everything you and I face in this life is fleeting…temporary.
As the quote says, “It didn’t come to stay, it came to pass.”
Heartache, pain, hurt, betrayal, sickness, disease, disappointment, loss, grief, sorrow, remorse….
none of it lasts forever.
Some storms of life are much more turbulent than others, but through it all, we have an Anchor.
It is the anchor that holds Dad S. fast when he hears bad news,
when a storm comes up out of nowhere,
and when he is hit with things like double pneumonia,
congestive heart failure,
He keeps pressing forward…regardless…knowing that one day he will reach his eternal home,
where there are no more tears, no more pain, and no more storms.
He’s weathered enough storms to know that he comes through his trials stronger than he went in to them.
I have to admit, each night when we tell him good-night and watch him struggle to his room, his back bent low, his steps tottery and faltering, the same dreaded question plagues my mind.
Will we get another day together?
Oh, the fragile thread of life!
So easily broken, brittle, and unpredictable.
I walked behind him tonight, telling him I loved him.
“Dad, I hope you sleep well and feel better tomorrow.”
“I love you, too, Cheryl.”
His voice broke.
Even the strongest men cry.
He knows our time together is limited and becoming more so each day.
Tonight another storm came through.
It is over now and night time has returned here in the mountains.
Two sweet boys “camp out” on a mattress in the middle of the living room floor near to where I sit on the couch.
They played hard, so they’ll sleep good tonight.
The steadiness of their breathing somehow comforts and gives me hope.
Parents are our past.
Children are our future.
How very grateful I am…in this moment…of calm and solitude, as I realize the winds and rain are gone, and peace reigns, for now.
If you are facing a turbulent time, remember this, my friend….
it’s just a storm.
Just hang on and trust and hold tight to God’s unchanging hand.
This too shall pass.
About the author
- Cheryl is a passionate disciple of Jesus Christ. She has been married to her husband for over 26 years and has one miracle son God sent after 12.5 years of infertility. You can read her devotionals at Cheryl Smith Ministries. They are always real and straight from the heart.