Updated: Oct 30, 2020
Arielle’s footsteps pattered up the stone stairway to the top of the lighthouse as she climbed her way to the pinnacle of the tower. Once she arrived, she silently closed the door behind her and walked to the edge of the small area where the large glass windowpane revealed the lake and shore. She stood overlooking the sight, not bothering to move.
She just needed a moment, one moment to clear her thoughts. If that were truly possible. Nightmare after nightmare, image after image, flashes too many haunted her like crazy. Why wouldn’t they stop? Why couldn’t she find peace?
The waves below her rushed as dark storm clouds blew in overhead, preparing to create a storm much like the one inside her. She could remember Opa speaking of how Jesus had calmed a storm in the Bible, how He had just spoken the words, and the rain ceased to fall and the waves stilled. If only He would calm the one inside her. He could, couldn’t he? If Jesus really brought comfort and peace through his spirit, then why was there such turmoil in her heart? She was torn between believing in the God her parents, Cade, and Opa spoke of, the savior she had trusted her life to, and the tempest in her. Nothing soothed the tossing waves of doubt, or the falling rain of pain. If only she could somehow find a way to remove all that hurt and uncertainty. But she couldn’t keep her thoughts from trailing off into that sea of doubt.
Arielle’s gaze didn’t move from the lake, the drizzling rain, the rushing waves. The storm that could swallow her just as fire did. Swallow her and the pain. Drown her until everything faded away.
No! What was she thinking? About dying? Was she crazy? Maybe, but she was right; the water could overtake her and send her somewhere where the pain of the fire didn’t exist, right? Even still, she wouldn’t think such horrid thoughts. She might be depressed, but she definitely wasn’t mad, that she was certain of. Unlike everything else in her life.
Finally, she lifted her eyes the darkening sky. Was God up there, behind the clouds, watching her, holding her as Cade said? Trying to calm her, but she just kept pushing away? Was He shaking His head, wishing she would understand just how much he loved and cared for her, that if He didn’t, she wouldn’t even be alive at all? Or was He laughing at the little ant before Him, thinking she was crazy to believe He might truly love her? No, she knew He wasn’t. She was His child. She had made that decision long ago. But what had happened to that child-like faith and hope she’d had? Had she wandered away, just like the sheep humans were compared to? Was the Great Shepherd looking for her, trying to regain her faith in Him?
“Gott, I do know You’re up there. I do know You watch over me and love me. Cade and Opa are right, You have not abandon me. I’ve left You. I’m sorry. I do want to trust You as I once did. Can You help me find my faith? I want to trust You to help me overcome my hurt. Mother and Vater are in heaven with you; I have no reason to wish them back when they are singing praises to You. I want You to come into my life once again, and not just as a person to thank on a good day, but as someone to lean on during a bad day. I put my trust in You, Lord. Amen.” The last word came out breathless as her shoulders relaxed and she felt as though a weight had been taken off her heart. God had taken her burden, she no longer needed to worry.
Thank You, Jesus. Thank You for being here and loving me. I love You.
Footfalls broke the glory-filled silence before Cade walked into the small area and stood beside her. “Hey, are you okay?” he asked so sweetly and filled with genuine concern as he place a gentle hand on her shoulder and turned her to face him, his cinnamon eyes sparkling with worry and―she dared to think―love.
She nodded, trying to bite back a smile. “Yes, I’d say this is the best I’ve felt in a while. You know, come to think about it, I owe you an explanation, don’t I?”
His brow furrowed in confusion. “Um, I have no idea. If you can think of something to explain, have at it,” he replied as he ran his hands up and down her shoulders, sending chills surging through Arielle.
She took a deep breath. Now was the moment. If she wanted to rid herself of her burden, she needed to tell Cade everything. “I had just turned thirteen a few months before, and things were just as good as they had ever been. I had finished a day of school and painting, as well as playing with a few friends of mine. I stood in my room getting ready for bed when I smelled smoke and heard my mother scream. The fire had already gotten to Vater and was quickly spreading. I ran out of my room and found Mother. Together we ran out of the house, but before we could exit all the way, a flaming beam fell on Mother. That was it. I ran. Eventually found this place.
“My world fell apart, and there was nothing I could do about it. I was depressed, felt abandon, unloved. If God loved His children, why did He take them and leave me? Why was I the one left to face the world without the people who brought me into it? Why did everyone else have hope and peace when I was alone? Where was God’s love?” She shook her head, surprised she was able to speak without sobs wrenching her throat.
Cade pulled her to his chest and wrapped his arms around her waist. “He’s here, Arielle. He never left you. He loves you. So do I,” he whispered against her hair, his breath warming her. He cared, loved her, and felt her pain. She definitely had to thank God for a man like Cade. He knew she needed someone who would encourage her and comfort her, so God sent Cade, even if it was at the oddest moment possible.
She lifted her face to meet his gaze with a small smile. “I know. I tried to push Him away. I let the devil whisper lies and doubts into my heart, but not anymore. I’ve finally come to my senses. Thank you for helping me find them.” She slid her arms around his neck. “I love you too,” she said, not the least stunned that those words came out. They were some of the truest words she had ever spoken.
He smiled down at her, his eyes bright with joy. “You don’t know how long I’ve prayed to hear you say those words,” he stated, and she got the distinct feeling he was pulling her the slightest bit closer.
“Hmm. Hear me say that I love you, or that I've trusted in God?” she questioned as he leaned his forehead against hers. She knew he was referring to her trusting in God, but she liked to believe he really wanted to hear the first as well.
He chuckled lightly as his hand came up to caress her cheek. “I meant you putting your trust in the Lord, but hearing you say that you are so desperately in love with me you’ve gone crazy is some-thing I've longed for since I first met you.” His teasing was out of place in their heartfelt conversation, but she still couldn’t hold back a giggle.
“Well then, Mr. Darren, I am so desperately in love with you that I’ve gone crazy. Is there any way possible that my feelings are not in vain? Could you ever love a woman such as myself?” Her own playful response extracted another chuckle from Cade.
He bent in until their lips were not even an inch apart. “I do believe I could.”
A smile formed on her lips. “Thank you for praying for me. And loving me and caring for me and―” Whatever she would have said was cut off by Cade's lips as he leaned in and kissed her. A soft, gentle kiss that slowed the pulse of her blood and stole her breath away. She angled herself to kiss him back with all the passion that had been building up inside her for the past couple months.
All too soon, he pulled away, leaving her breathless and wishing for more. “It’s all gonna be okay,” he stated, and this time she believed he was right.
Cade tried but couldn’t contain his grin as he hoisted himself on top of the kitchen counter, his gaze never leaving Arielle, who stood beside him washing dishes. She handed him a plate, and he grabbed it, letting his fingers brush hers as he began to dry off the dish.
She sent him a loving smirk while splashing him with the lukewarm water from the basin, which only served to get her splattered by Cade, starting an all-out war. He hopped off the counter and sprayed her with a handful of soapy water before she struck back.
It wasn’t long before both were soaked, and half the dishes were still sitting at the bottom of the basin, yearning for water to be cleansed with.
Arielle frowned, though her icy eyes still sparkled, and placed her hands on her hips. “Look at what you did, you silly billy,” she teased, grabbing the towel he’d left on the counter and hitting him with it.
He snatched the towel and used the piece of cloth to tug her towards him. He pulled her into his arms. “You started it, missy,” he replied, dropping a kiss onto her nose. He gazed deeply into those eyes he so adored, glad that she had finally found the hope she had searched for and that he had prayed she would find. After he had found her at the lighthouse three days ago, he had jumped for joy every morning when he woke up to the realization that his prayers had been answered. His prayers that she would love him as well and that she would move beyond her inner storm.
Arielle wrapped her arms around his neck. “But you joined in. Joint effort, mister.” She pushed herself up with her tiptoes to place her forehead on his. “Now help me wash these dishes, lazybones.” She stepped out of his arms and returned to her cleaning.
After they finished with the dishes, Cade and Arielle sat at the table with his Bible and read until the sun began to set.
Cade had been in multiple places all his life, but not even the once perfect home could compare to what he had found with Arielle. Now, just to make it last.