2011-09-22 - A Lesson In Obedience
Prov. 3: 5-6 (NKJV) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Question to Consider: When has God asked you to do something beyond your understanding? What is He asking you to do today?
The last time I saw Rick, I had no idea it would be the last time I would see Rick. It was during April of my junior year of high school. I had to retrieve a piece of computer equipment during homeroom. I did this every day, but on that particular morning, it was stored in a classroom it had never been stored in before. I think the usual location had been unexpectedly in use, the previous afternoon. To get it, I had to go down the front hallway, which ran past the main office. I never used that hallway first thing in the morning, and felt a little annoyed at the change in routine.
As I passed the main office, I saw Rick in the line where those who'd been absent the day before would get a pass saying whether or not their absence was excused. We went to the same church and were friends, though we weren't all that close. I thought he was adorable, as all the girls did, and we'd sung a couple of duets during recent Sunday services.
"Hey, Carmella," he greeted me. "Hi, Rick," I responded. I smiled at him, but didn't pause to talk.
As I was about to walk past Rick, a very clear thought stopped me in my tracks. "Give him a hug." I had no idea where such a strong urge had come from. I wasn't sure if it was God's leading or just some random impulse.
"I can't do that," I thought. I wouldn't have hesitated to hug Rick at church, but this wasn't church. He was in a line with other students. It didn't seem appropriate. I didn't want to embarrass him, or myself. I started to walk away again.
Confused but compelled, I turned to Rick and hugged him. "Thanks," he said.
"That was weird," I thought, heading towards homeroom. Several times that day, I struggled with mixed feelings about the incident. Had I done the right thing? Had he hugged me back just to be nice? What had the other students around us thought? I felt awkward and embarrassed about it, but I'd never felt so strongly about taking a specific actionin a specific moment like that.
A few hours after I got home the following afternoon, someone called to tell me that Rick had killed himself. I couldn't believe it. Funny, sweet Rick who sang, ran track, and played Junior Varsity football. Popular Rick with the pretty girlfriend and twin brothers. "I just saw him yesterday," I told Mom, as tears ran down my cheeks.
The chain of events that lead to my running into Rick the day before flashed through my mind. I remembered the unusual circumstances that led me to be near the front office, and to see Rick waiting to get a slip for being absent. I remembered the impulse I'd had to hug him. I'd done the last thing I would ever be able to do for Rick. I could only hope my hug had given him a moment of comfort. I had no idea at the time that it would be a hug goodbye.
I knew I would have felt so guilty, had I not listened to the urge to hug Rick, an urge I didn't even understand at the time. After Rick's death, I knew exactly where that impulse had come from. Maybe God just made me sensitive to the profound sadness Rick was feeling, so I would reach out to him. Maybe the Holy Spirit was leading me more directly in that moment. I don't know. I'm just glad I did what I felt compelled to do.
I'd heard and read Prov 3: 5-6 hundreds of times, but this experience gave me a whole new appreciation for this familiar passage. Though it didn't make sense at the time based on my own understanding, God had made my path straight, straight to my last moment on Earth with my friend Rick. Memories of that morning gave me tremendous comfort during the difficult weeks and months following Rick's death, and I thank God for directing my path that day.
God, thank you for directing our paths when we trust you. Thank You that You know and understand what we can't, in our human limitations. Please help us to remember that You always know exactly what You are doing.