I stuffed my swimsuit in a corner of my suitcase, which already bulged with
sportswear, evening gowns, shoes, and toiletries. Then, I searched through every
drawer and compartment under our bathroom sink, "Honey, do you remember where we
put our suntan lotion?"
My husband zipped his suitcase closed, and called out, "Suntan lotion. You're a little optimistic, aren't you?"
He's right, I thought. Sun protection would be a logical item to pack for a cruise in the Caribbean, but not under this particular situation.
"Wilma is now a category 5 hurricane. It's forecasted to hit the Ft. Lauderdale area on Saturday 22," announced the weather reporter. "Mandatory evacuation began in the Keys."
The storm headed to the precise point and time our ship was scheduled to sail. My husband and I, along with three other couples, had counted the days in anticipation of experiencing a bit of heaven on a luxury ship. But now Wilma threatened to show up and with its fury, blow away our coveted vacation.
"You're not still going on your cruise, are you?" A friend called. "That is crazy. Wilma will toss that ship like a toy!"
"Hmmm. You're right," I said calmly. "I called the cruise line and they indicated nothing changed, the ship will sail as scheduled."
My plan for action has always been to lift my prayers no matter what storms came my way. I called the friends who would be joining us on this cruise. We all united our hearts on the phone: "Lord, if it's Your will that we enjoy this vacation, grant us favor. We ask safety for anyone in the path of the storm and for Your protection. We ask this in the name of Your Son Jesus."
Saturday morning arrived. We tossed our luggage in the trunk, and our extra handbags filled the back of the van. The six of us held hands and invited the Lord to accompany us in the journey. An hour into the trip someone in our group gasped. "Oh, no! Look at those clouds; they're almost black!" Everyone glanced out the window and as we did, heavy rain began to pelt the roof.
"Well, let's just resign to the fact that this will be what we should expect throughout the cruise."
"But God has the last word," I chimed.
Twenty minutes before arriving at the ship's terminal, the rain stopped and the sun came out. The wind turned to a soft warm breeze. And the bluest skies brightened the horizon. The scattered white, puffy clouds painted here and there floated like cotton balls.
We embarked. And during the seven days of cruising in the calmest of seas, our laughter echoed and our comments of profound gratitude to God resonated among us.
The Bible says God will answer our prayers, exceeding our expectations. I've faced enormous storms in my life, and when headed toward an emotional hurricane, I've been tempted to listen to the weather reports gauging my feelings: clouds of self-pity, winds of discouragement, and a downpour of anxiety that threatens to flood my heart.
But when I look up and, on my knees, in prayer, I invite God to part the dark clouds of any impending storm, He responds. And with the sunshine of His love, He warms my heart bringing calmness to my world. Sailing on the vast sea of life, my divine Captain guides me to the islands of peace. And the soft breeze of His promises whisper reassurance to my soul.
Jan Eckles email@example.comJan http://www.janetperezeckles.com/
Jan Eckles, featured in The New York Times, is a national inspirational speaker, writer for regional and national Christian magazines. In addition to being published in five books, she is the author of "Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life."(Zulon Press, 2004).
She serves as a Sunday school teacher in Orlando, FL where she lives with her husband of 30 years.
Though she has no physical sight, God graced her with insight to serve as an illustration of inspiration and hope.
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