2015-09-09 - Heavenly Confidence
It sometimes amazes me, when and where God teaches about himself, me and others. To take it a step further, I am truly amazed where he allows me to go. I don’t always appreciate it at the time, due to the immediate circumstances, yet later, I find myself talking to him about how much I appreciate his guiding me in the midst of that particular situation. And what I am taught is often something quite challenging and unexpected, and even carries an element of sadness, yet at the same time, there is joy, and I find myself grateful for all of it.
That being said, not so long ago, I attended a funeral mass of a beloved family friend. She was dear to all of us, and I recall her also having been admired and cherished by my mother, who had been close to her when all of us kids were grade-school age and into our early teens. My Mom had passed away close to twenty years earlier, and now it was this sweet lady’s time to leave this earth. She spent a lifetime as a loving wife and soulmate, a supportive and caring mother, a sister, friend, coworker, supervisor, and also took on the role of “other mom,” checking in on my brother and me after our Mom was gone. She shared her heart and her time, and remembered the little things that matter the most to all the lives that crossed her path, and for all of it, I am grateful. In the midst of their current family changes, I saw more clearly some things about my own life, partially connected to them.
We should never compare people, in the sense of how God designed them to be part of his plan or in our lives, yet I saw a clear difference in how the husband and father of my Mom’s dear friend differed from my own father, and how it has impacted me as an adult woman. The two men and their lives were pretty similar, up until the point at which they had to separate many years ago, when our family moved away. What changed was not just time and space altered by a move, but the directions then taken literally and figuratively, by the men who led each of the households. Sure, a job transfer started it, but at a certain point, something else came to the forefront of their decision making. And it had been there all along, yet the move accentuated it, and I didn’t see it until just about a week ago. One man was driven by his faith, and the other by worldly pursuits. Each began within the same faith background, yet just going through the same rituals was clearly not enough for it to end in like manner. And to me, the result of faith versus world, while not a simple idea, does have a simplistic beauty when seen in these two lives and where they have ended up. One man did it with a wife of fifty-one years, having together raised two children, worked hard and retired, travelled and walked through the literal richer and poorer(not necessarily in that order!) to the place of "sickness and in health." They had done it together, with no real regrets other than him now missing her terribly, until they are back together. His stories, memories, and thoughts all center on what matters to him the most: God, family, others and self. Every time I have been around him, I have seen evidence of that - and in the order described - whether I saw them when I was a kid, as a young adult, or as a grown woman.
The second man married and remarried, totaling another fifty-some years, having been part of the lives of children and young adults - some his own and some he took on as his own, but often sacrificing one group or the other, to do what was best suited to his own desires and needs, or those of his significant other. He worked hard and retired, after severe illness that nearly took his life, likely a result of 60 to 70-hour work weeks for over 40 years. He travels and spends time with his wife and various others, as he maintains even more residences than when he was working. His stories all seem to center on stuff he has, financial matters, how to be successful, where he’s been and what he’s seen - and very little of it seems to be about God or family as a primary focus, but mainly as a secondary gesture, even though his life was nearly lost in the midst of such a lifestyle.
There is a seeming desire to do some things differently, yet a sadness or sort of resolve that it very likely just won’t come to fruition, for various reasons. Believe it or not, my goal is not to be disrespectful, only to show how big changes in people’s lives can make it abundantly clear what truly drives them.
And so a thought arose in my mind: “We didn’t breathe life into ourselves, so perhaps our focus should be elsewhere.” We are not to be people pleasers who worship stuff and our own accomplishments. At the end of our first tour on this earth, we are to look outward, but from the vantage point of pleasing the one who created us. While people will fight over stuff, in the end, it doesn’t matter. What matters is who you were without the stuff. Who were you on the inside? Who did you become when things got tough, whose side did you stand by when you promised to be there, whose spirits did you lift when they could not do it on their own that day, whose hand did you hold, as you lost them, knowing they were found? The houses, cars, gifts, bank accounts, how many countries or states you visited - don’t really matter. What matters is whom you made a loving home with, who rode in the car with you and traded off driving, whom you gifted with an unexpected surprise with nothing but the other person in mind (no strings attached), who walked along side of you, as you toured states or countries and made memories together, with a love as unending as our heavenly father’s love is for us.
We do it all with a heavenly confidence in a maker who gave it all to us, up to and including each breath we take in a day. I could not imagine how hard it was for my friend to go, through a loss of such sickness, as he did with his soulmate. He told me: “when we said in sickness and in health, I took it seriously”. And that’s exactly what God means, when he says he will take care of us too. He means his promises, and will take us back to himself at the appointed time. I am so grateful for his promises, and him showing me how serious he is about them, through tough situations he shares with me through my own struggles, as well as those he has put in my life, that mean so much to me.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)
All scripture references are from the King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise noted.