Brett and I are in Mexico this week, relaxing a bit before he starts his new job on Monday. I’ve been spending the majority of my time doing what I do best—laying flat on my face on a lounge chair next to the pool, listening to some rad 80s rock jams while my skin turns the color of a cheese-nip. Brett’s been doing what he does best, which is sitting in the shade, reading three books a day and mentally writing a treatise on Paul’s theology of margaritas. Then, yesterday as we were in our respective places, it started to rain. And I mean tropical storm rain. Pouring down in sheets, the kind of rain that hurts you when it hits your head, the run inside and push old people out of the way to take cover first kind of rain. The waves leapt up, angry, the sky looked like the Wizard of Oz when it was still in black and white, and the lightening just east of us threatened to kill us on the spot.
In the safety of our room, Brett received a text, and then an email, and then another email. Bad news from home. Ellia was sick. She had a low-grade fever, a mysterious bump on her arm that was swollen and red. The school had emailed, the babysitter had called, and a nurse even sent a picture of Ellia’s arm. A country away, it was hard to tell if she was okay—was she laying down at all? Did her legs hurt? Is she eating? Is she having an episode?
We began to look for flights home. I couldn’t stand staying one more minute in Mexico if Ellia was sick. The last flights had already left. The only flight out was to Tijuana and I imagined if I took it, I’d be on some horrible Home Alone adventure where I rode in the back of a U-haul with a polka band and got home the same time as my original flight, anyway. Of course, that would be the scenario if I didn’t get killed by drug cartels or if my hair wasn’t used to transport cocaine across the border.
The familiar fear was stuck in my throat. I instinctively began to pack. But no matter how quickly I packed, I still couldn’t get to Dallas. I felt helpless. I borrowed the phone of a friend at the resort, called the babysitter, then I sat down to cry like a baby. The angry waves kept striking against the rocks, as if they had an axe to grind. The sky seemed to get darker. Our vacation suddenly felt like a prison.
I kept thinking about Ellia going to the hospital without us. I’ve been with her for every single one of her last 36 IV inserts, and I couldn’t stand the thought of missing one. If she had to go through it, I wanted to be there to hold her while she cried.
We were forced to wait. I cried on the way to dinner. I cried myself to sleep. I begged God to make her well, and I prayed for a private jet to show up on my doorstep.
I finally fell asleep reminded of the sufficiency of God’s grace. It’s not only sufficient, it’s complete. God was offering me a hand to hold even while I wanted to be with Ellia to hold her hand. I was being offered the same comfort I wanted to give to Ellia in her fears. The God of the seas is the same God who walked across the water. When Jesus walked on water, he showed his transcendence—his uncontainable otherness, but he also showed his immanence. I resignedly crawled up into the lap of the God who cares for Ellia more than I do—the God who ultimately parents my children and takes great care for the work he began.
I woke up to the familiar sound of crashing waves, waters moving frantically toward the shore, but they weren’t threatening anymore. The sky was blue, the sun craned its neck around a cloud. The babysitter sent a text. Ellia was fine. The fever was gone, she promised she had no pain in her legs, and she was off to school.
I know God’s grace will not always look like a blue sky and a comforting text, but it will always look like the promise of comfort in the midst of even the most frightening chaos.