My dad and I are travel junkies. If you mention the possibility of taking a trip to a foreign country, he and I jump into action looking at plane ticket prices and reading Travelocity ads about the top 10 things to do in that country.
Dad has a huge framed map in his office entitled “Hiltz Family Travels” with multicolored pegs scattered across it marking destinations we’ve traveled to over the years. He and I can (and have) spend hours standing in front of it imagining our next excursion to faraway lands.
One place in particular that we would dream about visiting was Ireland. When I was in sixth grade, everyone in the class had to pick a country and write a report about it to present to the class. As I researched the history, culture, and people of Ireland, I couldn’t help being drawn to the beautiful country. I decided in sixth grade that one day I would adventure to the Emerald Isle.
In May 2018, my wish finally came true.
A couple of months before my college graduation, my dad, with a sly grin on his face, asked me, “So what would you think about going to Ireland as a graduation trip?” Um yes!
My family’s week in Ireland was one of the best weeks of my life. We admired beautifully green landscapes, snapped photos of castles and countrysides, drank way too much coffee, and spent great quality time together. We made many priceless memories in that short week.
One memory, in particular, I will treasure forever.
At the time of our trip, I was dealing with some significant disappointments. My post-graduation plans weren’t coming together like I had hoped. I had given God detailed instructions on how my life should look and was frustrated with Him for not executing my vision. I was trying desperately to hold my dreams and plans in my hands yet watching them slip like sand through my fingers. Fear of an unknown future was insurmountable. An inward battle against discouragement and discontentment raged, and I was losing miserably.
On the third day of our stay in Ireland, my family and I boarded a tour bus headed for County Clare, Ireland. The highly anticipated attraction for the day was the Cliffs of Moher.
Upon arriving at the cliffs, our family separated to explore the area. My brothers went one way to walk the dusty path along the edge of the cliffs (not to be outdone in intrepidity, I caught up with them later), and my parents and I went another.
At one point, Dad and I strolled a little bit ahead of my mom while she stopped to record an Irish accordionist. In the brief 5-10 minutes that we were alone, my dad offered me simple yet precious words of encouragement through which I could hear the quiet voice of my Heavenly Father.
“Jen, you’re going to be okay.”
The memory of this tender moment still brings tears to my eyes. Though seagulls screamed as they soared above us and roaring water pounded the rocks below, the tumult in my heart calmed. I felt an overwhelming, indescribable peace that I had not felt in a long time as I once again trusted that God was in control of my life.
As you’re reading this, you may also be struggling with disappointments. Maybe you recently lost your job, suffered a hard breakup, or even received heartwrenching news from the doctor.
Trust me when I tell you that, though it may not feel like it right now, you’re going to be okay too.
I’ve been reading a book called Wait and See by Wendy Pope that encourages those who are in seasons of waiting on God to answer specific prayers. In her book, Pope gives this illustration that helps battle the fear and doubt that an uncertain future can arouse in our hearts.
The Lord says in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” He extends to us His right hand. He then says in verse 13, “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'” His outstretched hand takes hold of our right hand.
Holding someone’s right hand with yours is quite uncomfortable and a little awkward unless you are facing them.
Can we imagine this together for a second? In the times of our greatest fears, in times when we are unsure of what steps to take, in times when our overwhelming circumstances cause us to wonder if God has forgotten about us, He holds our right hand in His, looks directly into our eyes, and says, “Don’t be afraid. I will help you through this.”
Wow, what an incredible promise!
The God who strengthens you, upholds you, and unconditionally loves you has a plan for you and will not abandon you to wander helplessly through life. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future.”
God created you with a specific purpose in mind, and because He is sovereign, He can accomplish that purpose. He promises that His plans are for your benefit. So even when the unknowns of the future outnumber the knowns, rest in the fact that an all-powerful, all-knowing God carefully laid out the paths your feet would tread. Our job is not to have all the answers. Our job is to remain faithful as He guides us with steadfast love (Psalm 25:10).
I wish I could tell you that after our father-daughter talk at the Cliffs of Moher, I never struggle with discontent when considering my current circumstances or fearful doubt when contemplating my unknown future. I still have more hard days than I’d like to admit.
On my hardest days, my dad encourages me to, “Remember the Cliffs!” reminding me of the special moment we shared and the assurance he made.
The phrase also reminds me of another Father-daughter talk with the One who promises me, “My dear child, I hold your future in my right hand. Trust me; you’re going to be okay.”