Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take”
This has been my week of hard life lessons. I've been praying, asking God what He is doing--what He wants me to do--but He has been silent. Though He has been silent, He hasn't been just sitting idly by and watching me tear my hair out. He has been placing a lot of lessons in my path. I've stumbled over every single one of them, fell on my face, ate mud and grass...and got up scratched and bruised. But I found the lessons. That's what matters.
When I was little, there was a couple my parent's age that went to our church. They didn't have kids, but they were fun and taught a fantastic children's church. Every year, we put on the best Christmas pageant with great costumes and make-up...and I even got to sing with my dad one year. The Great Potentate. It was amazing.
Over the years, as is life, people move away or go to other churches. I got married and moved to California. When I moved home, Roger and I bought a house in our hometown, catercorner to this couple from my childhood. I've always been a bit introverted (well, a lot...until recently), but when I saw him out mowing, I'd say 'hi'. Once I did some photo work for her...and sat and listened to him talk for a long time. It was strange...I thought he had changed so much. Now I realize he wasn't the one who had changed, it was me. He was talking to me as if I was a grown-up. That was the difference.
This man was sick...but Jesus shined from him. He talked and joked about all the things he was going through, the struggle, but his words pointed to the love of Christ. At the time, I was going through struggles of my own, so this struck me.
That was a couple years ago. Then, earlier in the summer...God placed him and his wife on my heart. Every night when I closed the curtains, I saw the house and I began to pray. Warnings for pure oxygen in the home went up on all their doors...and I realized he must have gotten very sick again. The Lord put them on my aunt's heart, as well, and we both began to pray. Then earlier this week, my father (who was good friends with them when I was young) began to miss their friendship. God placed them on his heart, as well. But that very night, the man died. I was outside watering flowers and trying to prune my tree when the funeral service arrived. I went to the porch and cried...
God put him on all of our hearts...but what did we do?
But was that all God wanted?
Obviously, God had gone through lengths to get us praying. One by one, our hearts were just breaking for him and his wife. We were praying, asking each other what we could do...but coming up with nothing. And it was just downright errie that the very same day he entered heaven, my dad was thinking of him...
What in the world was this about? What was God's point?
My first impulse was to run over and wrap my arms around his wife, but that wasn't appropriate. I wanted to run over and help the woman with the heavy end of the gurney. "Be careful with this man," I wanted to say. "He didn't even know how much he meant to me as a child." I wanted to apologize for not being a better neighbor. All these years I had lived a few yards away and I'd only spoken to them a handful of times.
No answer came. Maybe it was simply the prayers. After all, we never know how much work our prayers actually do. My mom says this is one of life's lessons. It's a hard one. And I don't really know what I was supposed to learn. Be a better neighbor?
As I sit here...still trying to sort it all out...I think I was supposed to learn something about the love of Christ. On the outside, it might seem that prayers went unanswered. I don't think so. I watched his online testimony. I heard him say that something changed when he got sick. Something selfless. In this sickness, he began to shine like Christ...the love of the Lord pouring from him. And now...this man knows that it is US that are truly stuck where we're not supposed to be. Maybe it's US that really need the prayers? We are the ones that still have to walk this earth, trying to figure out what to do, trying to figure out how to love on others and be good, respectable, passion-filled people. We still have struggles coming our way--storms that will knock us off our feet. But not him. He is in the presence of his King. His eyes are open...and he is healed.
Maybe...my life's lesson is to start living, right now, as my neighbor did when he got sick. Start shining...start living like I might not be able to tell the person in front of me about Christ tomorrow because I might not see them again. I have to start acting now.
It's not about me, right?
It wasn't about my neighbors...
It was about our Heavenly Father...
And what He was/is trying to do.
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:31
That's not just for the neighbors a few yards away, but for every single person that comes across your path.
Lesson learned. I think. I hope.
It's never too late. Never too late. Not even now.
That's a man that I know...will one day welcome my dad into heaven. I know it. It's a promise.