Anger, Fear, The Ultimate Treasure, Words of Endurance

Finding the Ultimate Treasure

Lucy grew up without a father and lost her mother to cancer when she was a teenager, so family was extremely important to her.When she and her husband had children, they worked hard to provide a safe, nurturing, family atmosphere. As committed Christians, they attended church regularly and also enjoyed the support of a close-knit, extended family that shared their faith. Of course Lucy and her husband knew they weren’t perfect parents, but family was their top priority and they did their best to provide a strong, loving foundation on which their children could build their lives.

That’s why Lucy was utterly devastated when her daughter decided to turn her back on her faith and walk away from her family. Lucy had always believed she would never experience deeper pain than what she had felt when her mother died, but she was wrong. Her daughter’s choice to pursue what Lucy knew would be a self-destructive way of life sent Lucy reeling.

For two years, Lucy was driven to figure out why her daughter had made such a destructive choice.“I wanted answers,” Lucy explains.“I was her mother. I felt responsible. I needed to take care of it, to fix it. I was so paralyzed by fear and anguish, so desperate to get to the bottom of what had happened, that it was almost as if I couldn’t take a deep breath.”

Driven by guilt, distress and fear, Lucy forged ahead to figure it all out. “I totally left God out of my search. I knew He would answer my prayers for my daughter, but I didn’t think He would answer them in the way I wanted them answered. So I just sort of steamed ahead and left God in the dust.”

Lucy didn’t stop praying, reading her Bible or attending church, although she admits those activities became less meaningful to her. She continued to go through the motions of her faith, but she couldn’t connect with the God of her faith. She vividly remembers how disturbing it was to talk with a hurting friend who needed encouragement during that time. Even as Lucy read words of comfort from the Bible to her friend, they sounded to her own ears like “raindrops on a tin roof.” For Lucy, those words provided no comfort. Instead, they felt empty—even annoying.

Lucy continued her pursuit for answers until it literally wore her out. “I found myself trapped in a long, dark, tunnel. I was trying to analyze why and how all of this happened, but I was unable to find any answers, and that frustrated me so much. It seemed that there was no way out. I finally realized I could not do this on my own.” Then, just when she felt the darkness would overwhelm her, her daughter called and the lights went out completely. Their conversation pushed her over the edge. Lucy felt as if she had been “slammed into a brick wall.” She went to her bedroom and threw herself on the bed. Totally desperate, she cried out to God, “I can’t do this anymore. I don’t have the strength!”

Moments later, to her surprise, Lucy heard the Lord speak clearly to her heart: “I’m all you need. I am enough.”

“I knew it had to be God,” Lucy explains,“because no one else was there. It felt like God’s voice because I never would have thought or said that myself. It’s like you hear something all of your life, and then, all of a sudden, God speaks to your heart and you get it! It finally makes sense.”

That’s when Lucy realized that God had never left her side during the whole ordeal. Instead, she had left Him. So with great relief, she said out loud, “Okay, God, I believe you are enough.”

Lucy got up from the bed, but her body and heart still felt heavy.“I had no strength. I was so depleted. I thought to myself, How am I supposed to remember that God is enough? That’s when the idea came to me to go to my closet and get a big box. Somehow I knew I was supposed to carry that box with me. I didn’t understand why, but I knew God was using it to teach me something.”

Although the box was empty, it was large and cumbersome to carry around.“It was so awkward to carry that I couldn’t do much, but I didn’t let go of it for anything—not to comb my hair or fix a meal. I kept thinking, This is so stupid! It’s a pain to carry this big, bulky box everywhere. Why do I feel led to do this? Despite those thoughts, I was trying to listen to God, so I carried that box around with me for four hours!

“I knew that carrying the box represented some kind of lesson from God, so finally, I stopped my mental protest and just listened. Once I was quiet, I heard God speak to my heart again,‘The box is your daughter and all of the questions you have been carrying around.This is what is sapping your strength.’”

Lucy got it. She knew what she needed to do next.“Dear Lord,” she prayed, “I gave my daughter to You when she was an infant, and I’m giving her back to You today. I don’t need the burden of carrying this box any longer.” She then took the box to a hallway closet and set it down inside.

“I wanted the box to be in a place where I could look at it whenever I needed a reminder that God is enough, that He alone is capable of carrying this burden.”

After Lucy set the box in the closet, something unexpected happened. “When I placed the box in the closet and closed the door, I felt God’s presence with me! It was just as if He put His arm around me then walked away with me. For the first time, I felt God had met me where I was. That encounter showed me just how powerful He is. I felt that there had been a great darkness inside me, but when God showed up, hope replaced my anguish.”

God showed Lucy in a clear, simple way that she couldn’t possibly carry the burden of her daughter’s choices. She simply wasn’t strong enough. But after she encountered God in the darkness, she knew she could trust Him to carry that burden for her. Whenever she’s tempted to pick up the burden again, she goes back to the closet and remembers.