As Brian Bird put it in his most recent video production blog, there are many “emotional touchstones” in our lives that we reflect on in times of change or growth. Each poignant moment defines a new chapter in our lives.
While watching “My Heart Will Go On,” the most recent episode of Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart, I found my heart shattering at the sight of Elizabeth calling after Jack while he rode away towards his calling. Her bereft countenance is burned into my memory. The sheer distress and heartache of watching the one you love follow a calling in which you have no place is devastating. But Elizabeth will awake to a new day to discover the truth of Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.”
It is in times of trial, heartache, and devastation that the love of the Lord sustains us. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes just that: a relationship. Just as friendships mature through shared burdens as well as joys, so our relationship with God matures. When we step out of our own tiny worlds, onto the path the Lord calls us to, we learn that “problems and pain may actually be miracles” in the making. Each twist and turn challenges us to rely on the only One who can give real direction.
The story of Jack’s calling, Elizabeth’s calling, and the separation that these brilliant writers have created between them is intended to teach us all a lesson, the characters and the audience alike. In the absence of our most trusted friends and loved ones, God will provide peace, encouragement, and community to help us shoulder our pain. When we face a world that is turned on its end, and change rocks us like a crashing wave, we must remember that our hearts will go on. We will walk through the pain like trembling children holding fast to the mighty hands of our Good Father.
Love never changes. His love never fails. It is patient and kind. It never gives up on us. Just as Elizabeth feels abandoned by Jack, and possibly feels that God has turned his back on her desires, we also find ourselves questioning the calling to a purpose beyond our comprehension. As my almost-eight-year-old son asked me after watching, why would God call Jack to fight and call him to leave Elizabeth if they are supposed to get married? Why would a young soldier be called to leave his family to fight in a war on a distant shore? Why would a young woman be called to teach when her heart’s desire lies elsewhere? Why would a fisherman be called out of a boat to walk on water?
“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”’ Just as Peter learned in Matthew 14: 29-31, we are all called to purpose. It is in the fear, the sadness, the distress, that we call out to the Lord and He answers. Trust builds faith. Faith tried builds wisdom.
And so we enter into a time of change. We face a new day with a few tears, a restless heart, but a determined faith, knowing that “for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) We are all called to a purpose, the challenge is to be brave enough to get out of the boat.