This past Wednesday morning in our Bible study we were studying Psalm 68. The last verse of that Psalm says, “You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God! (Ps. 68:35 NIV). The Bible study question concerning this verse was, “How have you experienced verse 35 to be true in your own life?” I started to share some reflections from our recent vacation to Maui and decided that I would blog about this rather incredible vacation that almost wasn’t. First off, I’m of the opinion that anyone who has graduated from high school over the last two years is to be greatly honored and recognized for their accomplishment. There probably has never been a more difficult time to be a junior or senior than the last two years. It is this feeling that resulted in me challenging my grandson (Aug.2021) Ethan that if he graduated on time, I would take him on vacation anywhere in the United States that he wanted to go. I should have known better than to make an open-ended offer like that, but he took me at my word and said he wanted to go to Hawaii. Shortly after that I was able to book two one-bedroom condo units in Maui at a very reasonable price, and I also took out insurance in case, for any reason, we needed to cancel those units. That’s where our journey begins.
As we proceeded into 2022 there was just one repeated wave after another of outbreaks of covid. Both Deb and I have been fully vaccinated in all the shots that are available to us, but in January I asked Ethan and Matt if they were planning on getting vaccinated, to which they responded, “No, we are not”. As Hawaii had some of the strictest quarantine restrictions, I felt it would be best to cancel the vacation, given the fact that both Matt and Ethan would be restricted to their condo unit for a whole week, if they were not vaccinated. No sense in going all the way to Hawaii to stay in your condo for a week. I shared with them that was my plan if they were not going to get vaccinated. I mentioned this decision to my oldest daughter Christina, who was at that time a high school teacher in Jersey City, and she stated that she would very much like to go to Hawaii, having never been there, and she offered to pay me for the condo for the week. As it was the last week of August, she felt it would be no problem for her to skip the orientation seeing as this was to be (I believe) her eighth year in that school district. So, in March or April, both Deb and I and Christina and her friend purchased tickets to fly to Maui. We purchased our tickets with United and she purchased her tickets with American.
Sometime in May, I started to receive very negative feedback from my son and grandson in Michigan, because I was giving Ethan’s graduation present to Christina. Matt sent me a text and stated, “I hope you enjoy Ethan’s graduation present”. I was aware that I had created a very negative relational situation with my son and grandson. The Scripture states, “The spirit of man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a wounded spirit?” (Prov. 18:13 NIV). I had certainly wounded the spirit of my grandson, who has had a lot of disappointments and painful things happen in his young life. At this point, two rather extraordinary things happened that demonstrate God’s great providence and His grace in overseeing even my mistaken efforts.
First of all, Hawaii lifted all of their nonvaccinated visitor’s restrictions (May 15). At this point, it didn’t really matter as Matt and Ethan weren’t going with us. Then the last week of May my daughter Christina called me with some very significant news. First off Christina informed me that American had canceled her flight to Hawaii. Then she proceeded to tell me that she had gotten hired at Colts Neck high school as a new teacher and she would not be available to go to Hawaii with us, as she would have to be at new teacher orientation on August 30, 31st. Wow, these circumstances which were completely out of my control now made it possible for Ethan and Matt to go to Hawaii with us as originally planned. Our God is a God of all circumstances and providences who works all things together for our good according to His riches in glory (Rom.8:28). Please forgive me for repeating this story as I can’t imagine a more amazing set of occurrences to bring about the incredible trip that we just experienced.
So, on the vacation that almost wasn’t, we had an incredible stay at the Maui Banyan Resort across the street from the beach. This location allowed us to watch some amazing sunsets and for me to go snorkeling in the ocean every morning at 7 AM, which was a delight to my heart. Being able to drive on the road to Hana was an incredible experience, as well as going up to Haleakala (dormant volcano) National Park, which was another amazing time. The food was absolutely delicious, and I enjoyed immensely the luau, the sunset cruise with Deb, and snorkeling with my grandson Ethan for three hours on Friday morning. All of these things I consider an awesome demonstration of the grace of our great God. I am so very thankful, and I praise God for His great mercies and kindness in working out all the details of our trip. I know earthly pleasures are fleeting, but on this occasion, I’m grateful to God for arranging the outcome that He provided. Let’s make sure that we are looking for God’s hand in all of our circumstances, so that we may join with the psalmist in praising our awesome and amazing God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who continues to intercede on our behalf.
To God be the Glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo