Monday, March 10, 2008

God is truly a teacher

There is so much in life I don’t understand. There are so many answers I don’t have. There are so many things I cannot wrap my simple mind around.

I still don’t fully grasp why the world is so full of pain, poverty and illness. War makes very little sense to me. Why is there oppression and murder? I have learned to strangely find peace even in the face of these things the more I walk with God. But, I cannot tell you why God allows horrible things to happen to His creation.

Recently, I have been a 1st hand witness to some of these “difficult times”. My wife just lost her Grandpa. He was a grandfather in every way, but to her, he was also more. When she was only 5, Jessie’s dad died. As such, Grandpa Jim was a big part of her upbringing. He was a big part in her life, and therefore, he was a big part of my life.

Often, he could be so fun to be around! Other times I wanted to choke him.  He often shared great wisdom with me when we spoke. Other times all he would speak of was “The Clintons and Queers”. But, I can say with 100% confidence, that my life is much fuller, richer and more interesting and better because he was in it.

Losing him was very hard. It had been awhile since I was forced to look death in the face so up close. We hurt. We cried. We mourned. We knew what loss was. And I am not completely sure exactly what….but I am sure we learned from it.

Even more recently I have been close to another loss. My dear sister-in-law Hannah (who is as close as my own baby sister to me) and her husband Mason have looked despair square in the face. They lost their beautiful baby girl at 20 weeks into a difficult pregnancy. It is just a terrible thing. She was stillborn a beautiful, perfectly formed girl. I can NOT wrap my head around this at all! Why would God allow this? What could He possibly use this for? How can we find ANY good in this? Where do you go from something like this?

I am not sure. I just do not know, but deep inside of me is a whispering assurance that all is going to be okay. Suddenly I think I understand what I am supposed to be learning from all of this: LOVE, FAMILY AND FORGIVENESS are the keys to this life!

We miss Jim. And I am SO glad that we were reconciled in our relationship when he left us. I am so glad we had settled any petty differences that may have existed. How miserable would it be to lose someone in your life and have silly arguments and disagreements still hanging out there? What would that ever accomplish? We can hold on to bitterness and anger as long as we so choose, but it will not ever change a thing! It is meaningless in the end. I have to forgive. Forgiving others…it is for me, not for them. Happy or angry, we will all meet the same end. So why not do something about our situations? Life is fleeting and there truly are no real assurances.

Our families are the greatest gifts we have. This means immediate and extended. How often do we take the time to appreciate every minute? How often have I put my kids’ requests off so that I can read one more chapter, send one more email or deal with one more phone call? What is more important to us, our jobs and one more sale or the fact that our kids and family just want a sliver of our attention? Each day is a gift. It is up to ME to make the most of them. It is also up to me to make time and peace between those God paces in my life!

And through this all, I have learned that nothing gives strength or brings healing like love. Grandma is hurting, but she has great strength and she WILL be okay, because she has love! Hannah and Mason are reeling in pain. But in time, they too are going to be okay, because their life, in spite of everything, is filled with love.

I do not think we will ever grasp the plan God has for us. He is God and we aren’t. But I do think he gives us wonderful glimpses of his wisdom if we are looking. We get these glances in the laughs of our kids, in the hugs of friends and family, in the kisses of our spouses. We can grasp a sliver of “the meaning of it all” in the days we spend with no cell phone playing on the trampoline, and in the times when we are blessed enough to comfort or be comforted. We even get to see some of God’s greatness in pain, death and sorrow.

We serve a mysterious God. But he is a GOOD GOD nonetheless. I am so grateful that he teaches us. I want to be a good student. I am trying to learn. And I understand that only I can make this life what I want. I can forgive and love, or cling to anger and rot away. I can love my family over all, or I can compromise the greatest gift I have. And, I can love unconditionally, just like I have been given.


Kenli Shea said...

Amen brother. Miss you. Hope things are more awesome than you anticipated. God is at work.

Hol&J said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you just the same for sharing. I pray that God will hold you and Jessie up right now, giving you some measure of peace and comfort.

I lost my grandfather (my dad's dad) suddenly in 2005. It's still difficult, but it has gotten better.

He believed in God, but was Catholic and didn't attend church often. I think he had a bad experience once, and it left a bad taste in his mouth. My family would invite him to go to church with us, but he never came as far as I know.

I know we're not to judge, so I pray that I'll see him again someday. My human mind knows what we're taught and what we believe from the Bible. We should repent our sins, and I have faith that even if we get in an accident on the way to our baptism, we would be saved because we truly believed and turned away from our old self.

I also know that God's relationship with people is very individual and personal. We don't really know where others are in their lives and walks with Him.

It breaks my heart to think that I may not get to see my grandfather again (along with his wife who died before I was born). This has been a struggle for me, and why I think I haven't been able to fully let go. Maybe I'm too afraid of what the "answer" might be.

Sorry for writing so much, but I thank you for listening.