The long path to peace and healing.

by Pat Voyce

Life so far had gone as we’d planned. We had a cozy little home, satisfying careers, and an amiable network of family and friends. Anchored in a calm joy of plans achieved, we looked forward to the next phase: the ease of retirement and places we’d travel . . . until . . . the morning . . . my husband didn’t wake up.

Quick decisions

In hours I was drowned in a stream of incongruous questions and suggestions: “When do you want the funeral service?” “Where will he be buried?” “Do you have a minister?” “Do you want the funeral chaplain to do the memorial?” “Here is our selection of caskets.”

Though sinking in a sand of confusion, I heard my voice respond.

Tearful end

A few days later I was in a sea of well-meaning hugs, wistful “Thank God it’s not me” looks, and sympathetic words: “He would be pleased; the service was beautiful.”

Then, under a green tent on a sunny, crisp November morning, after an “amen,” his casket and our plans sunk into the earth. After a few more hugs, I was deposited at my home. Memories roared like crashing waves, and sandcastle dreams dissolved in torrents of tears.

Strength from the Spirit

In tiny day-ripples, tides of time, like an ocean’s current, have moved five years to sea. The wistful looks now say, “You’re doing well; you are strong.” They don’t know that I feel like battered driftwood, alone and without purpose, bumping through life. They see me as serene and calm. I’m beginning to understand.

 “The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). When I was buried in confusion, the Spirit answered.

When I cry in the night, the same Spirit gives strength for the day: “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3). “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). It isn’t I who am strong, but the One with me.


As I read my Bible, I saw that He was with Joshua when Moses passed leadership to him in Deuteronomy 31:6: “The Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” And in Joshua 1:5: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” God never left Moses. He never left Joshua, and He promises me “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” Moses was a happy sheep grower. I was a happy wife. God yanked us from those roles. Moses argued each step of the way. I pleaded, bargained, and cried. To Moses God gave assurance, encouragement, and miracles. To me He answered questions I could not answer and provided strength every morning so I appeared, as the psalmist wrote, “a wonder to many” (Psalm 71:7). But He acquiesced to neither of our appeals.

Higher thoughts

I found the answer in Isaiah 55:8, 9:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

And in Jeremiah 1:5 God says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you. . . .”

I learned that God’s thoughts are unfathomable. Before we existed, He had a purpose for us. He “has saved us and called with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Divine plan

In my Bible reading, I discovered that before time began, God had a plan. He does not alter His plan for our purpose but instead redirects our lives for His. While we are being redirected, we must trust Him wholeheartedly and allow Him to direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

Isaiah 40:31 assures me that “those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” And Romans 8:28 promises no matter what I go through, God is working it for my good.


Now I understand.

We are driftwood — God’s driftwood — being moved by living waters in the direction He chose before time began.

Scripture quotations were taken from the New King James Version.