I watched Josh’s shoulders as he walked up the mountain through the fog, hoping his posture would tell me how he was feeling. Raindrops trickled down his suit coat, and I knew I would never forget watching my son climb that muddy mountain to wait for his bride.
Josh and Brandi had spent months looking for the perfect setting for an intimate wedding: a beautiful mountainous area with trails and gorgeous views where they would make covenant promises at sunset, with layered mountain ridges in shades of blue as the backdrop.
The forecast had been sunny and clear that day, but as we drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway, a thick fog settled over the mountain and rain poured from the clouds. That morning, Josh told us if it rained, we would follow each other to another parking lot, walk a shorter trail, and squeeze under a gazebo for a wedding without a view. Unfortunately, one of the grandmothers had been taken up the trail before the rain started, and now they needed to get her back down safely.
I had envisioned us all in the parking lot greeting each other with hugs and smiles. Some would be meeting for the first time as two families became one. Instead, we were all in our separate cars, staying dry for as long as we could.
My husband J.J. got out of our car to see if he could help while I sat inside shaking my head in disbelief. I silently questioned God, Why did You let this happen? You know how hard they worked to prepare for this day, how little they asked for. Sunshine was all they needed.
I wanted their wedding day to be perfect. I wanted them to feel like God was there with them, taking care of every detail. I wanted beauty and sunshine, smiles and laughter. Pouring rain and fog as thick as cotton was nowhere in my imagination.
I held my phone up to take a picture of the dreary, disappointing view when it hit me: God knew this was how it would be. God knew exactly what their wedding day would look like. It seemed so obvious, but it shifted something in me. I didn’t understand it or like it, but it wasn’t up to me to fix it and I didn’t have to resent it.
J.J. knocked on the car window, jolting me out of my own personal fog. He told me Josh decided we were going up the mountain but not all the way to the top. We would walk up the trail together until he found a clearing. Brandi and her dad would wait in their car until the rest of us were in position and ready for the ceremony to begin.
Following behind my son, I noticed how deliberate he was with each step. Eyes on both the path and the horizon, he looked for an open area where we could all fit.
Their wedding day could have been marked by unmet expectations. But instead, a deep sense of unexpected hope met us somewhere between disappointment and trust.
Less than halfway up the mountain, Josh stepped into a wide-open space, and we all stopped. Thick fog rested on the outer edge of the clearing, but we all stood under a covering of light as the sun filtered through the canopy of trees. A small waterfall trickled down rocks to our left, and a huge knotted tree root lay across the forest to our right.
Standing on the edge of rocks, surrounded by mud, greenery, and intertwining branches and roots, we listened to a violin play the bride’s procession and waited as Brandi walked up the mountain through the fog. It was a wedding unlike any other, in a setting their Creator had chosen and designed just for them.
As they stood beside gigantic roots of an ancient tree with beautiful bark woven together by the hand of God, our pastor read the scriptures Josh and Brandi had chosen weeks before, sacred words they wanted read over them and their marriage.
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us . . .
Ephesians 3:17-20 (NIV)
Though it was not what they planned, it was more than they could have imagined. Yet it came in the midst of deep disappointment and surrendered trust.
That’s where I need to be today as I sit in the thick of deep disappointments and painful injuries. A severely pulled muscle abdominal muscle, a hidden yellow jackets’ nest in the ground and five stings later, a husband who smashed his thumb in the car door and a daughter with a fever, a hole in the subfloor of the home we just bought, and a vacation we planned six months ago that we’re supposed to leave for tomorrow.
Jesus wants me — us — to trust Him in all of it. He wants us to know He has not abandoned us. He has gone before us. But we won’t get to experience what He has for us if we hold a death grip on what we planned for ourselves.
Trust looks like one step after another up a muddy mountain of disappointment, believing God has created a clearing up ahead. We take the steps; He makes the way. Somewhere between our disappointment and trust, God slowly reveals that His presence is with us. And He is working in ways we may not yet see.
Christine Jackson says
This is the perfect reminder.
Disappointments manifest themselves without warning. Trusting is the key. Thank you for today’s message.
Renee Swope says
You are so right, Christine, “Disappointments manifest without warning.” And trusting the Lord, putting our hope in Him instead, is the only way out of the shadow of disappointment. It’s a truth I am learning how to live in again and again. “Those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23 (NIV).
Ruth Mills says
Simply beautiful. Thank you for the encouragement to loosen the death grip on our plans & experience God’s plans for us!
Yes, Jesus, help us loosen our grip so You can hold us and all our plans safely in the center of Your will.
As I go through this journey of having had Stage 1 two different types of breast cancer and the deadliest form of melanoma-Acral Lentinginous Melanoma Stage 3A, putting my trust in the Lord is what my husband and I do daily. There are days we fall into that valley of worry, anxiety and get anxious. God has provided us with many blessings that we take for granted. He has worked many miracles for us that we never saw until later. What an awesome God we serve! This devotional is a great reminder to just TRUST in HIM!
Renee Swope says
Oh, Becky, I am so sorry for all you and your husband have and are walking through!! That is so much. Trusting the Lord with your health is sure to be a daily decision, and a moment-by-moment act of faith some days. Yet, I sense a beautiful peace and surrender in the way you describe how God has provided so many blessings and helped you see ways He was working miracles as you look back. I pray today and the weeks ahead are filled with many more!!
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2
I just chanced upon this devotional in my email’s junk folder but it was not by chance! God knew I needed to hear this powerful example of His presence guidance and care today. Thank you! Karen
Renee Swope says
Gosh, I love how God loves us and leads us to exactly what He knows we need. I’m so glad junk folders can’t even keep Jesus from sending His love notes to us, and thankful He met you here today, through my story.
Pat Keeling says
Today as I face family issues with our daughter, the birthday of our son who went to be with the Lord 9 years ago, my husband who has just been diagnosed with liver cancer, and fatigue and disappointment, I REALLY needed to be reminded that somewhere in the shadows of all this is the good that God has promised will come from it all if I but trust and obey. Thank you for sharing the beauty that God provides when we can move from questioning to simply trusting.
Renee Swope says
Sweet Pat, I’m so sorry. That is a really heavy load for one heart to carry. This place between deep disappointment and trusting God is not an easy place to find. The word “trevail” comes to mind as I read your story. I’m praying for you to experience Jesus’ all-surpassing peace that will help you to lean on Him and put the whole weight of your grief, fears, trust and prayers in His promises. Oh that He would show Himself strong on your behalf today and tomorrow and each day to come.
Hard to remember truths for sure. My summer has had similar experiences and I fluctuate between knowing He’s beside me and I am truly blessed —period (and that things could have been so much worse) and times, albeit short, of discouragement that I am where I am and that most previously simple things require more time and creativity to accomplish. So, prayed for you today as you navigate your own bumpy journey.
Renee Swope says
If only trust and surrender could be a once-and-done decision. If only peace could be a permanent path. Yet, here we are in the tension between disappointments and choosing to trust Jesus with our hopes, dreams, and plans. I’m with you in the fluctuation and in the finding new ways to do all the things. Thank you for your prayers, Kathy. I just prayed for you too!!
The Lord is faithful. Ive been seeking the Lords wisdom for health issues for our 15 year old pup (my only baby). As I follow what I believe he led me to I’m faced with what seems like worsening and more problems. As I cried out to him last night, anger and tears with little snippits of “I trust you”, he has been reminding me I need faith (without sight- 2 cor 5:7 heb 11-6) I need to trust, I need help with unbelief (mark 9:23-24) All daily devotionals and verses. Thank you Lord for your presence.
Renee Swope says
Praying for you and your sweet pup Liz!!
Renee, I love this so much! Thank you for sharing your story.
Janet Williams says
Thank you Renee. I needed this reminder today:
“Somewhere between our disappointment and trust, God slowly reveals that His presence is with us. And He is working in ways we may not yet see”
Karen P says
So needed this precious reminder today. His hope, His glory and tenderest love of us in all our steps.
Janet Williams says
….and prayers that you and your family feel better
Bev Woods says
Great reminder of His faithfulness and sovereignty. Love you friend!
Diana Lax says
We give it all to Jesus and trust that He knows what’s best for us. I have found Jesus makes lot better choices than I do.
Thank you Renee.
I love your story very much. Indeed perseverance and press on require trusting and obeying. one hand we are working unceasingly, the other hand we are releasing our plan unto God. Then we will see The Beauty of The Lord and plan accomplished.
Definitely this unexpected experience will become your life time sweet and unforgettable memory….
In God, we Trust and Obey.
Beth Williams says
We have to realize nothing that happens here on Earth is a surprise to God. He knows every detail of our lives. Sometimes our disappointments can be God’s appointments. He may be saying no to what we want because He has something better for us. I had a good part time job for a few years. Then they let me go. I knew God had something better out there for me. Two weeks later I started a “part-time” job at big hospital in town as ICU Step down clerical. It combined both my clerical & medical skills & paid a lot better too. God knows what’s best for us. We must learn to trust Him in ALL situations-especially if we don’t like them or are disappointed.
Linda Hoenigsberg says
Loved this, Renee. I always feel a sense of excitement when I begin to read one of your posts.Because of your authenticity, I can relate to the hard stuff and lifted up by the things God speaks to you. Thank you for being you. ❤️
Laura Tosto says
Oh! My heart and soul needed this today. Praying and surrendering the death grip I have on life, and all I try to hold together.
Joyce Kaste says
You won’t believe this Renee, but just this morning in my quiet time, the Lord put you on my heart. I was telling the Lord that I hadn’t read anything from you in a long time and that I missed hearing from you. I then prayed for you and your family. And here is a beautiful story of your son’s wedding in my feed. The Lord is so good!!
LINDA Castro says
So blessed to read this today. Many times that we make our plans and seek to make them possible, when all along the Lord will have his way and His plans will be blessed with His outcome. Jer 29:11