(Above: The view from my recent early morning walk.)
Have you ever been blindsided by the circumstances of life?
I think we all have. In fact, that’s what I’ve experienced the last few weeks.
It started with Hurricane Ida hitting my hometown of New Orleans on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The day Ida hit, I was flooded with memories of Katrina 16 years ago, which was the beginning of a challenging season for my family. My heart went out to our many friends and family who were affected by Ida. It was heartbreaking to see them struggle from such a long-distance away.
My mom, who lives in the New Orleans area, was supposed to fly out to San Diego to visit us for her 70th birthday. She, Joey (my 17-year-old son), and I planned to go paragliding to celebrate, but due to the storm, she postponed her trip. We were all disappointed.
Shortly after Ida, a series of unfortunate events occurred:
- Jena (wife) and Joey are fighting a lot, and I step in as the mediator. I’m exhausted.
- They both get COVID. Emma (daughter) and I go to a hotel so we won’t be exposed. We’re displaced.
- I hear story after story of friends & family of friends who are struggling with loss and grief. My heart is heavy.
- Our youth pastors get COVID, and they’re out for two weeks. Youth group is canceled one week, but our team steps up to the plate to fill in the other week. I have a longing for things to return to normal.
- And more.
This isn’t the complete list. There’s more, but to protect my family’s privacy, I won’t share it all.
I don’t do too well when life gets messy. I want everything to run smoothly at all times. But that’s not the way life goes.
I also recognize a lot of people are going through much worse.
The good news is that life has settled down now. I can finally breathe. Thank God.
Has life ever blindsided you, your family, or the youth ministry you lead?
If so, I want to share a passage that has helped me through the past few weeks. I particularly like the Message version.
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I believe the heart of this passage is surrendering to Jesus – come to him, get away with him, walk with him, and watch him. Why? To take a real rest, learn the unforced rhythms of grace, and learn to live freely and lightly.
Aaaaahhhhh… those words do something deep in my soul! They remind me that Jesus offers peace in the chaos of life. All I have to do is let go and rely on Him.
If you’ve been blindsided by the circumstances of life, I hope these words do the same for you.
That brings me to a recent early morning walk (see above pic).
Although my thoughts were racing non-stop with worry and anxiety that morning, I had a moment of peace and quiet as I soaked in the view. It was as if God was saying all would be okay. Just trust me, and no matter what happens, I am here.
Oh, God is so good!
Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth