“It’ll be two hours up the Northern Highway.” The expectant travelers basked in the morning air. An overnight cast of south-easterly wind was perfect.
“An early start in midsummer months is a wise plan. It’s been fifteen long months, hasn’t it, Reuben?”
Beth remembered the countryside worthy of note. “The stretch of vast plains, farming landscapes, and the eastern horizon competed with the summer dryness.” A voice from the prophet Isaiah echoed in her heart. “Lord, Thou also command the clouds that they rain... Lord, I cry for outpour on our hearts and spirit.”
At a turn, five kilometres from the main highway, an off-road led to a gravelled Yoder Lane. On the left, an open run-down iron gate. Entering it, a cratered lane and arterial waterways that trenched each side led to a trajectory narrowing uphill on to the driveway. On the clearing, there stood a meagre cottage house.
Several break-winds such as iron bark, grey box, and towering red gum trees dominated the 10-acre land. Their stately foliage greened the summer drought. Hardy agapanthuses contended in their blue and purple strength awaiting reinforcement and care.
“Dad!” Called nine-year old Jonathan.
Reuben left his high-paying job of eighteen years in the city. Beth mused, “I’ll be strong, God led us this far”. Traces of joy pressed her lips.
“Mom, are we home for a long, long, time now?” Asked four-year-old Kate when she awoke. Beth smiled and nodded, and embraced Kate, who was sitting next to her. Two year-old Timmy stirred a little from his sound sleep in Beth’s arms. “My soul rejoices in the Lord. Help us, Lord, to be strong. You have been our Strong Hold in times of temptation.”
“Your place is here.” Parting words of friends on their last evening with them gripped her with sorrow.
Reuben found courage, and spoke, “I’ve let our eldest son, Joshua, down. His wrong choices, drug and alcohol addiction killed him. I’ve sought your help, the church. And you haven’t addressed many loose lifestyle problems among your youth, and ...with my Joshua. ”
Reuben held Beth’s hand tightly. Beth seized some glances at their growing sons and daughters for they were just within earshot in the dining room. “Oh, Lord, protect them. You will lead us to the like-minded brotherhood that echoes Your heart for your children.”
Beth timidly said, “Fifteen months have been busy. Our family struggled. I had barely coped with the busyness and social programmes. It’s just a constant battle against the world.”
Beth held on to the Righteous Hand that fortified her wearied spirit. She lost their Joshua to the world. Rueben added, “God has led me to accept the offer of retrenchment. Beth’s health rallied with life-and-death. It’s about time that we move on.”
Dry and brown earth, an unusual hope seized Beth. The surroundings looked dismal But here, she can build up their lives again. Their broken spirit would demand work. And work on the land would help revive their bodies. Lines of care furrowed on her face. Peace kept intact. The way of the cross drew her closer to the Saviour. Living away from home was, “a place of Egypt and of plenty. “I shall give these gardens care!” She confidently trusted the prospect of her nine-member family working on it. “Joshua would have well here...”
There were indeed signs of greens-- life in the seven years before. Towards the earliest part of the eight year, living in the suburban city had stretched unexpectedly to fifteen months. The months proved to have given them tested time of struggle. The grace of God sustained them to this end.
Her train of thoughts whispered a deep longing for comfort. The natural-hardy greens and morning sunlight warmed their hearts. Beth hoped to conquer back her health. Vegetation, foliage, and rejuvenate the fruit trees! They had stood such a test of time for want of attention. Many of their almond trees had finally succumbed to their death sentence.
Beneath the wealth of hope welling from within, the expectant pilgrims shone the radiance of amber peeping through the eastern sky.
God proved Himself their Strength in their journey back to the wilderness. Life will grow.
“God has a good plan for us, Beth. Let’s trust His voice. He’ll prove Himself strong. God will show the way again.”
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