I was out sweeping the leaves off our newly painted deck today and the fresh, autumn air brought me back to the many hours I spent playing in the woods. In a way it seems like only yesterday when I was climbing up my favorite tree or raking a huge pile of leaves to roll into from our big hill at the back of the house. Then again, it seems like only yesterday when I was married and found myself with four little ones ages four and under, and the days seemed like they would never end. Time has a way of playing with our minds, creeping like a turtle when we do not enjoy something, but flying swiftly by when we are having a good time with friends and family. We blink and find ourselves at the end of a long tunnel, with the memories of what just happened trailing along behind us.
Our neighbor in the house directly behind ours, passed away a week from yesterday (Sunday), and he was 72 years old. Again, my mind drifted as I swept the leaves today, to only a few weeks ago when he would come running out his door, in the way that only a man with Parkinson's disease could do. All through his trials I never heard him complain about it, and he always remained upbeat and positive about his future. He came to church with us a few times, when he could get away from being a radio announcer on a Polish Polka station, but he especially loved our church gatherings when it came to banquets and picnics. He always made a friend where ever he went, and nobody was a stranger to him. We were thrilled when a friend at church led him to the Lord, so we are comforted to know we will see him again in heaven. He loved telling people how strong he was getting and often showed them how much straighter he could stand, and always had a cheerful way about him. The circumstances were not the best at his house, so he liked to come and have dinner with us once in a while, or just sit and have coffee with Joe and enjoy some good, friendly conversation. While he could drive he would make the rounds and drop in and visit his circle of friends, but as this year swiftly flew by, so did his strength and his ability to drive. The last time I saw him to talk to was a morning when he needed to run some errands. I drove over and picked him up and took him to all his stops where he needed items and then took him home. He was getting tired by that point and I knew he would probably crash for the afternoon. I am sorry to see him go, but going in his sleep was the best way he could possibly enter into the gates of heaven.
Last year, a little girl in my K5 class said, "The earth is like a fishbowl and God is watching us like we watch the fish." I stopped and thought about that for a while. To God, the earth must look small and fragile, with the humans going about their lives without realizing what lies just beyond the rim of our habitat. We make the circle of life: birth, living, then dying, with a new person to take our place...it almost seems monotonous. But God created people to spend time with Him. Adam and Eve were created for God. We must not forget our mission in this life is to lead others to Him.
I often wonder if God looks down at us and shakes His head, wondering if we humans will ever learn our lesson...the lesson that life is just a minute to Him; that if we will just do what He says and make the most of our time here on earth by showing others the love that He has shown us, He will reward us. Spread the Good News of Jesus to those who are perishing around us. Share the love of Jesus, and enjoy the minutes that God granted you by giving them back to Him.
It was as if God was speaking directly to me today. Pastor's message hit me right between the eyes, but something inside was still afraid to let go and let God do His work, like that famous saying goes. All week long I have been doing a devotion about hearing God's heart and it has been speaking to me, encouraging me to fall on my knees and draw closer to the One Who desires to speak to me. He wants to hear my voice. He wants me to cast all the stresses that are driving me insanely into a corner onto His shoulders so I don't have to bear them by myself. Here is a little excerpt from one of the devotions that spoke to my heart: "Mary Magdalene had come to Jesus' tomb without a thought of the stone that blocked the entrance. Now that the stone had been rolled away, Mary still sought for His body, with a heart so full of love that she did not consider the difficulty of lifting and handling Jesus' body. Her cry was for Him, even though it was only the outer shell that she could find.....the gospel is not an idea - it is a person, it is Jesus. Mary was blinded with longing to touch Him with kindness again, to be drawn close that wondrous sense that all will be well, because He is." I love that...all will be well because He is. I want to desire such closeness to Him, that just being in His presence will assure me that everything will be okay.
It is interesting as how my oldest son has suddenly taken on the role that all young men are bound to take in their teens, and that is the role of leadership. He is not doing it in such a way that is overbearing or trying to take control of me as his mother, but in such a loving, gentle way that shows me he cares for me and is concerned for me. I have been overly stressed these last few weeks and he does not like to see me get that way. The last few days he has been quietly reminding me not to get so upset over things and to expect things to be more difficult than I am. "Nothing ever goes the way you plan, Mom," he told me the other day. "You need to accept that and not get upset. Things happen." Needless to say, he quietly put me into my place and I knew he was right. He made me examine everything deep down and he unknowingly showed me that I need to start bringing God back into the little things and pour my pain onto His shoulders. I remember hearing my mother get upset about some issues when I was a teen, but I was too afraid to bring it up to her. I was concerned for her health and heart and did not like to see her so stressed. Those memories flashed before my eyes, and I was sad that I remained silent instead of telling my mom how I felt. I am thankful for my son, for his wisdom in his young years, and for his reminder that I need to be an example to my children and show them that I need to go to the Lord with my requests. That is what Pastor spoke about today too, and when God speaks twice, He means business and I need to listen. The Lord showed me today that I have been holding back because I have been upset with Him about something. I have been a little angry that He did not answer a prayer the way I wanted and I have been holding back. The only one I have been hurting is myself though, and my loved ones around me. So, I pray that this revelation will cause me to change for the better this week and that I will remember that all will be well because He is in control. May this help you too, my friend, because no matter what He answers, He still loves you so much.
PS. And in closing, I just want to say that my oldest is now a working teenager. He was hired at Chik Fil A and learning the ways of a working person. And he loves every minute of it. So far. :)