“If you don’t Instagram a picture of your toes in the sand with the ocean on the horizon, did the vacation actually happen?”
This was a question I asked myself as we were driving home from our recent vacation. Looking through my feed, it was hard to tell we had even been to the beach. My hashtag #fortmyers2015 produced only eight images in as many days; most of my photos were taken indoors or included boding gray skies.
For months, my husband, our three children, and I had been looking forward to a week at the beach with my immediate and extended family. We had planned and prepared. We were ready to soak up the sun, splash in the pool, build sandcastles, and frolic in the shark-free, shallow waters of the ocean.
When our beach week finally arrived we were met with a weather forecast of rain every day of our trip. I’m not talking about the occasional late-afternoon coastal shower. I’m referring to nearly a 100% chance of rain every day, throughout the day. Over the past twenty years, only twice have I been on a vacation like this; both trips were during a legitimate hurricane off the coast.
As women and mothers, we all too easily fall into a false sense of our role as the Executive Director of Vacations. Many of us usually coordinate the travel plans, the accommodations, the packing of everything from sunscreen and beach towels to the groceries we will take; being so busy about the trip convinces us that we are in control of our time away. My Type-A nature causes me to assess the situation and take charge.
My original vision for a sunny and sandy trip began to slip through my fingers, and I panicked. Early in the week I couldn’t settle in with the idea of doing nothing on this rainy vacation. In my restlessness, angst, and boredom, I googled things to do in our beach town when it rains. For the first time ever, I took my kids to an indoor inflatable bouncy house and a science museum while we were at the beach.
Clearly, this rain (quite literally) threw a wet blanket on our traditional vacation fun. The rain also brought up in me a feeling of frustration, helplessness, and the desire to manage the tempo of the trip despite the weather.
During our wet week, I began to think about the spiritual connections between this unwelcome rain and my expectations for what our week at the beach was supposed to look like. I was reminded that try as I might to ensure that our vacation goes off without a hitch, I am not the one in control here. God used the rain as a gentle indication of His sovereignty.
I reflected on Psalm 147:8 that says, “He covers the heavens with clouds, He provides rain for the earth, He makes grass to grow on the mountains.”
1. He Covers
Throughout Scripture, clouds have significant meaning. Clouds can symbolize transitions, the faithfulness of God, protection and covering, the presence of God, as well as the abundance of God’s gifts in the form of manna and blessing. I’m thankful for the rain clouds on vacation and their reminder that God loves me, is constantly with me, and covers me with His blessing. I don’t have to seek out those things in my own strength. As a daughter of the King, His covering is my inheritance.
2. He Provides
I can often get lost in my own self-sufficiency. I put entirely too much faith in my plans, my strengths, my own ways of doing everything. I think I’m the one doing all of the work, making my own provision for myself, my marriage, and my family. This recent week of rain shattered that myth. God is the provider of all good things; even when those good things come to us through trial, pain, or disappointment. Often times it takes a literal slowing down to recognize and appreciate that provision.
3. He Makes Things Grow
Water is a key element in ensuring that living things continue to grow. All living things need the nourishment that water or rain can bring. In our spiritual lives, when things are always sunny and going our way we can often get stuck in the mundane, the routine, and the commonplace. Some of us even begin to dry up and wither with a soul-drought when the sun is always shining. We all need the occasional reminder that the rain brings; it helps us see the growth that needs to take place in our spiritual selves. Sometimes the rain forces us to revisit our spiritual disciplines, invest our time with God more purposefully, and reflect on what God is doing in our lives.
Although still disappointed that our beach trip ended without the normal adventures of sandcastles, sun tans, and family domino games around the pool patio, I am most grateful for the reminder of who God is and what He longs do in our lives. Without the rain I don’t think I would have made the connection. Without the rain, I would have returned home from our beach trip still thinking about all of the ways I’d helped to make our family vacation a success. Instead, I’ve come home able to recognize how God abundantly showered me with His love and blessing, His provision, and the promise of new growth in Him.