Lighthouses are special to our family. Our youngest son proposed to his wife at a lighthouse.
We have our home on a live-aboard boat, so lighthouses are a beacon of hope to us in the fog or squalling sea.
God’s Word is that same kind of lighthouse, a beacon of hope to guide us into safe harbor in the storms of life.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 ESV)
A storm can hit your life like a flash of lightning: a diagnosis from a doctor, a confession from a spouse or a child revealing one of your worst fears, a pink slip from an employer, a pandemic that shuts down your world, or a war pivoting hearts and minds around the globe.
In my new book, Discovering Hope in the Psalms, I share one of our stormiest seasons and how God’s lighthouse of hope helped us navigate our perfect storm.
The winds first hit our little lifeboat during one of our media tours. Bill wasn’t feeling well, so we went to the ER where a doctor informed him that he had high blood pressure.
That news caught Bill’s attention. His dad had a stroke in his 40s that left him paralyzed, and Bill’s grandfather died of a stroke in his early 40s. Soon it became apparent that God was asking Bill to resign from the lead pastor role he had served over 15 years. This decision was difficult emotionally and financially.
In this same season, our youngest son, Caleb, was hit in a football game and rushed to the hospital where he needed a blood transfusion to save his life. Eight days later, when we brought Caleb home, all I wanted to do was to wrap him in my arms, but I had a speaking engagement, which our family needed me to fulfill to keep food on the table and a roof overhead.
During my time away, I received calls about my other two sons who had both also experienced athletic injuries. Then I got a call that my younger brother was hospitalized after having a heart attack—and could I come help care for his young children?
My stress was welling up like a tidal wave.
When friends would ask, “How are you?” I didn’t know how to answer. So, I went to the Word and read Psalm 30:5.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (ESV).
I immediately went on a joy hunt. I read Nehemiah 8:10—“… do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (ESV).
The grief in the hearts of the people was their realization of how far they had drifted from God. Their leader, Nehemiah, wisely pointed them back to a focus on the power of God. In this verse, strength of God means God himself is a place of safety, protection, and defense, a fortress, refuge, and stronghold—this is a sure source of lasting joy!
In this storm, I followed the well-lit path of joy verses. I printed them, studied them, and hung them around my home. Joy became my lighthouse of hope, an anchor in a storm that lasted three years.
Now, years later, we decided to downsize to live on a boat—a fun second-half-of-life adventure.
However, due to the coronavirus, our marina was closed and my then 91-year-old in-laws needed us to be their on-site caregivers. This meant we had to abandon our vessel of romance and move on to the property of Bill’s folks—to live in a 300-square-foot RV! I knew the only way I could hold on to hope was to “choose joy” every day.
I decided the best way to bolster my hope and joy was to teach the Bible studies I had penned on these topics online through social media and face-to-face virtually through Zoom throughout the nearly 3 years of the California lockdown.
Since the day I found hope in the Psalms, I answer the question: “How are you?” with “Choosin’ joy!”
This saying has caught on with the women who hear me share my story of hope and joy. That’s the power of the Word. Its joy is not only your lighthouse but also a beam of light to others because God multiplies the light as you share your hope and rejoice in Him.