Three nights ago, my husband and I went out for a long overdue dinner date. When the waitress, with the warm smile, asked if there was anything special we were celebrating, my husband and I just looked at each other and together we said, "Life."
We had come through two more surgeries for me, staring down cancer for the second time and beating it, shingles, a very scary hospitalization for our daughter, a job change, and several other challenges. We were celebrating life and God's goodness in bringing us through all of this.
My adult daughter and I have had a very strained relationship for over a year, but God brought us back together at the foot of her hospital bed. When life or death hangs in the balance (and it did) you begin to realize what's worth holding onto and what needs letting go of. Out of the ashes, God, who is in the business of restoration, is bringing beauty one step at a time. Praise.
The day after our dinner I was still on a high from feeling an immense amount of relief from the past several months. I felt like I could breathe again for the first time. I called my mom. I knew her gentleman friend, whom I think the world of, was in the hospital and had a successful heart procedure. I wanted to check in to find out how he was doing.
I could tell in my mom's voice that something was wrong. "They did a biopsy on a cyst they found in his kidney and his kidneys are in complete failure." I realized I wasn't breathing, but was holding my breath. She went on to tell me, with interspersed tears, that they brought him home that day and that Hospice had been called in. It wouldn't be long. Wait a minute. I thought he was going to be okay?!
I called him Sunday morning and told him how much I cared for him and how thankful I was for how kind and caring he is and how he has treated my mother so well for the past few years. I told him what a blessing he is and that my life had been made better by knowing him. We chatted and laughed, but I knew it would probably be the last time I'd talk to him this side of heaven.
When I hung up I went outside and stared up at the beautiful sunny blue sky with a hint of fall crispness in the air and wondered how I could be here, thankful to be alive, and he was lying on a bed waiting to die? I was thankful that I knew He loved the Lord, but still, how can life vacillate like this I wondered. The tears just flowed. My heart ached for my mom who had lost my dad and now was losing another love in her life.
That afternoon, still with a heavy heart, I tried to get myself ready to go to a farm to table dinner with my son. His girlfriend had recently broken up with him so he was still licking his wounds and I was the back up date. I admit that my heart was sad and I just wasn't into going.
Then my son showed up, looking very handsome and had a specially picked bottle of wine. On the ride, we talked about everything and nothing: girls, relationships, football, work, memories....for the 45 minute drive to an idealic farm setting.
It was a very interesting mix of people. Young, older, a couple from Brazil, a family from India; add in doctor, homemaker, research scientist, computer guru, registrar, farmer, clothing designer, retired vet....a real melange of society brought together to enjoy a delicious farm to table dinner.
The candles flickered in the beautiful night as we talked about food (of course), music, cyber warfare and technology, home brewing beer (the farmer had a crop of hops), children, grandchildren, the story of how a couple met, different cultures, you name it.
At one point I looked up and you could see all the stars against a completely black sky. I risked it and said, "Wow just another wonderful display from an awesome Creator!" Even the research scientist looked up and maybe contemplated a Creator God for a moment?
On the way home, my son and I turned on an XM radio station that played some of my favorite R & B music from the 80's that my friends and I used to go dancing to. Well we had a fun little seat-dancing jam session in the car as we rolled down a country road.
I texted my son thanking him for a wonderful evening. He texted back, "I had a blast mom. Thanks for everything you do and have done for me. I love you!!" I went to bed with a contented heart, but woke up at 3 am. thinking about my mom's sweet friend.
I went out and looked up at the night sky from our back porch. There was Orion's belt constellation where it always is in the wee hours. I thought of my adopted son in Christ and the Christian school I head up in the Middle East. It was already daytime there, but I thought of how we are One under God's constant and loving gaze. I thought of how their world is so different....so much more terrifying than ours. It wasn't fair. Christians are being murdered there everyday and I am basically safe in my suburban bubble.
I can't explain it all. Life, death, the mix of people, the mess of people, joy, pain, celebration, suffering, trust, fear, peace, worry. It's all part of this world. I realize more and more that I am merely a stranger passing through. I will get to experience it all.
But, God. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He always was and always will be. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the great "I am". One day at the feet of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. We will see clearly what, up until then, we only see dimly. One day all of this will make sense. It will all be worth it. Why? because God promises that it will be, and I know from experience that I can trust Love's heart.
So for now, I don't know what this day will hold. But, I go forward knowing He has hold of my hand with His righteous right hand. I don't have to know where I'm going. I just need to know with whom I am journeying.
What about you? Where do you turn when life just doesn't make sense? Where does your identity and your security come from? What are you learning along this journey called "life"?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being the awesome Creator God that you are. I thank you that you have created all this for our good pleasure. Help me to accept that I won't always understand the ebb and flow of life, but that I can trust that YOU are sovereign and you are in control. I know you are good and that I can trust your heart when I simply don't understand. Help me to love well the people you put in my path, whether that be for an evening or a lifetime. Let my life arrow always be pointing toward you. Thank you for your love, grace, and mercy that you continue to pour out on me. Thank you for taking my hand, and the lead in my life. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Be blessed....this post in honor and memory of Herbert H. Luce (9.5.'31 - 10.16.'17). You are loved and will be missed...