“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
I was hesitant to go to Australia. Please don’t gasp and call me ungrateful. Label me, instead, with the undesirable adjective that accurately described my state of mind: worried. I would have to be away from my three-year-old for ten days. Although I trusted his grandma to take good care of him, I was scared of myself. Would I arrive in Australia only to have to turn back because the mother inside of me was in anguish?
What’s more, I looked at my father-in-law, questioning, Are you sure you want to take the two people in the family with food allergies across the world? Would my eight-year-old be stuck in hotel rooms with corn-syrup induced migraines? Would our vacation morph into a scavenger hunt for gluten-free food? “Give us this day our daily bread.” This was my prayer.
As with the vast majority of my worries, these never came to pass. God guarded my heart against pining away for my Little One. We “Skyped” with him and his grandma, and their smiles and laughter gave me permission to relax and breathe in all the beautiful moments in Australia.
Who knew that Australia is a food paradise for the gluten and the corn intolerant?!! They grow sugar cane in Australia, so they almost always sweeten foods with real sugar, rather than corn syrup (although I did see glucose from wheat on quite a few labels). My son could indulge in ice cream, Solo (a lemonade soda), and hamburger buns without worry!
In even the smallest, rural towns, we would “stumble upon” a restaurant offering gluten-free options. One kind cafe owner told me, “I have some gluten-free pasta in the back. I’ll boil some up for you.” Never did I go hungry. Never did my son get sick. God provided our gluten-free/corn-free bread!
While we were in Tasmania, I read the March 15th devotional in Jesus Calling, reminding me to listen to the love song God is always singing over me. Yes! That was it! Sarah Young gave me a name for what I had been feeling, what I had been hearing! God’s love song had been and continued to be the soundtrack of the trip.
As if God knew we would never set foot on Australian soil again, He led us to places our hearts needed to see, put the friendliest locals in our path, and allowed us rare sightings: a duck-billed platypus swimming in a rain-pelted lake, lumbering wombats close enough to touch, a roosting black cockatoo . . . .
On the boat back from Tasmania, I saw a Gideon’s Bible in our berth. (I feel it is important to note here that when I picked up that Bible, I wasn’t thinking, “Open sesame, now show me what I need to hear, God!” I was only thinking that I wanted to read.) I cracked open the Bible and landed in the three-chapter book of Zephaniah. There, on the very page I opened to, was God’s love song: the same verse (3:17) the devotional had pointed me to (in a different Bible) a few days earlier in our Tasmanian cabin! I read and marveled at God’s whisper. This is real, Carol. I am singing over you. Keep listening.
I heard His song over Lorne—in the sea breeze, the parrot-like birds’ wings, the lapping waves, the gentle sunshine warming us, the vines climbing over the gluten-free café.
I heard it in the eucalyptus forest. The innkeeper in Apollo Bay suggested we might see wild koalas if we ventured down a certain road. My eyes searched the treetops to no avail as my husband drove. We were about to give up and turn around when we saw a cluster of cars and people with cameras. Koalas were overhead! Full grown “teddy bears” looked down at us, in between bites of leaves. I was enraptured. After we took photo after photo of each koala, we drove on down the road in search of a lighthouse. On our way back, ten minutes later, the cluster of cars and koala watchers were gone. God’s love song had guided us to the wonder we might have missed.
His song led us safely home and through the haze of jetlag. Oh, but the clatter of daily life is distractingly loud. During our first week at home, my son has had three migraines (Where is this mystery corn hiding?), I received a rejection letter from a publisher regarding a collection of my poems, and hubby and I had a (short-lived) tiff. But, Jesus’s beautiful song never ceases. Shafts of His goodness are shining through the clouds, everywhere. When you pause to be thankful, you can see them!
That is why I like collecting “blooms” in my life each month; it might be more accurate to title those lists of blessings, “God’s Love Song.” My trip to Australia will always be a picture in my mind of what God’s love song looks like, sounds like. On a once-in-a-lifetime trip, where new sights abound, one’s eyes become childlike again. While experiencing awe, it is easy to see God. But, He is just as present in the din of now. Let us whisper His name and let Him quiet us with His love.