“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” I Kings 19:11-12 (KJV)
I admire my sister, Sandi, for many reasons. She is a tiny person who weighs less than 100 pounds, but her incredible strength and determination has always been a source of great inspiration to me. One of the many reasons I admire her so much is the devotion she exemplified as a wife to my brother-in-law, Richie. She loved him and stood by him, unconditionally, for many years. Through ups and downs, trials and triumphs, laughter and tears, she supported her husband and kept her vows to him. As a younger sibling, I watched her and was greatly influenced by her example of faithfulness in every “for better or for worse” circumstance they encountered. Her dedication as a wife has had a strong impact on my own views of marriage and how I am to treat my husband.
Sandi, like me, struggled with infertility issues for many years. There was much heartache because of this. I remember one of her miscarriages, in particular, and how it hurt me to see how much it hurt her. After 14 years of waiting, God blessed her and Richie with a baby girl of their own. They named her Kristen Leigh, and she brightened their lives in so many wonderful ways.
I remember the day Richie died. Kristen was only seven years old. We all loved Richie dearly…he had been in my life since the age of three when he and Sandi were married. He was more like a brother to me than a brother-in-law. It was hard to remember a time in my life that he wasn’t in it. It hurt all of us so deeply to say good-bye….it was too soon. He was only 40 years old. Now it was just Sandi and Kristen…two tiny people against the world.
After the funeral was over and things had settled down, Sandi and I finally had some time alone to talk. We were in the back bedroom of her home sitting on the day bed talking about how Richie had been her whole world for so many years. She turned to me and said “What do I do now?” I remember feeling so lost and helpless to know what to say. Her soul mate, the love of her life, was gone. There were decisions to make. There was her precious daughter to consider. What would she do now?
A few weeks later, Sandi and I were talking on the phone one day, and she said, “Cheryl, you just don’t know how hard it is to not have someone to turn to and ask WHAT DO YOU THINK?” Her words hit me hard. She was on her own, with a child to raise and support, and it seemed to be a daunting task in front of her. The one she had leaned on for so many years was no longer there to run things by and get his opinion.
I have often thought of Sandi’s words to me….of her fears on the phone of not having someone to turn to and say, “What do you think?” Don’t we all need that? Life is a very uncertain pathway. There are so many mysteries lurking in front of us, and sometimes, it is impossible to know which way to turn and what to do. She didn’t plan to become a widow with a young daughter at such a young age. Through the years since that happened, she has missed and longed for that human connection to tell her what they thought she should do next. But, throughout Sandi’s life, there has been a tender, guiding Hand. The path she has been led down has not been an easy one. She has suffered many things in silence, yet God has given her the strength to rise to every hard occasion that has come her way. He has shown her what to do next…He has been there with her each and every uncertain step. He gave her the strength to pick up the broken pieces of her and Kristen’s life, and He put in her a determined, strong spirit that compelled her forward.
It has now been 20 years since Richie died, and Sandi was left to walk a lonely path. But, she has never been alone. Her sweet daughter, Kristen, the little seven year old who was left without a Daddy’s guiding hand, has blossomed into a fine, respectable adult. She worked hard, earned her nursing degree, and she now has a successful career in the medical field. Sandi raised her on her own, by God’s help and grace. She felt it was best that way, and I have always respected her greatly for her decision to put Kristen’s best interests ahead of other things. She is one of the most unselfish people I have ever known.
God sees the future. It is unknown to us. Sometimes, we seek counsel from others, and we find that when we follow it, it wasn’t the best course of action anyway. We have seen a lot of changes in our lives lately, and we have been given multiple doses of “friendly” advice. But, at the end of the day, we find it is best to get quiet and listen to that still small voice Elijah heard in today’s passage of Scripture. His future, like my sister’s, was much unknown, and he ended up in a cave wondering what to do and whether he should even go on. God allowed a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire to happen around Elijah. It was a lot of noise and commotion, but the counsel he so desperately sought after was not in any of it. It was in the voice that spoke to him after all of the noise settled.
I take great comfort in the way God led Elijah and how His guiding hand has kept and led my dear sister, Sandi all these years. It inspires me to keep pressing forward, knowing with all certainty that He will guide and keep us, too. Jeremiah 10:23 says, “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” We don’t know what we should do next, but God does. I love the saying “Trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God.” It is perfect, sound advice for all of us.