Divinely Appointed Unpleasantries

road-rage2

You know those times when you run into a person in life and you just know God brought you to the same place at the same time for a reason? Well….this was not one of those times, or at least not at first glimpse. Yesterday I had a run-in with a woman I’m going to call “Mary.” (I don’t know her real name, and I’m somewhat grateful for that. You’ll understand why shortly.)

Mary was in a hurry to get somewhere, it appeared, because she decided to head toward the exit of a parking lot by cutting across the incoming lane of traffic. I was in the process of entering, when suddenly she was in front of me. Colson saw her coming and warned me, but still I had to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting her. Mary also stopped, facing the wrong way (albeit caddy corner) right in front of me. I seriously don’t know if her rage was triggered at that moment or whether it might have already been well in progress, but promptly she began mouthing things at me. She rolled down her window, and I reached to roll down my own before something I’ll call “divine instinct” told me not to do it. Mary began shouting, and the lip reading was unmistakable. Use your imagination. Mary is a very angry woman.

This is Texas, y’all. For the most part, we try to get along–but I seriously believe that had I engaged in dialogue with Mary, she may have jumped out of her car and physically attacked me (while parked in *my* lane)!

Sometimes I’m dense. It wasn’t until this morning that an important truth dawned on me: Divine appointments are not always pleasant. The woman in that car needs prayer. She could have driven into the path of anyone, but the same God who laid out the stars of the universe timed it so that the object of her rage would be me. It doesn’t take a mental health professional to realize this woman probably has trouble going on her life, but I am one. It doesn’t take a preacher to understand that she needs prayer, but I’m a Christ-follower. And while it might take me a while to hear the voice of God, I do try to obey him when he speaks. At approximately 6 o’clock this morning, God enlightened me to the fact that even bizarrely unpleasant encounters sometimes take place for a wonderful purpose, outside of the realm of human understanding. What an “Aha” moment! If I don’t pray for this woman, will anyone? (Perhaps you will…but more importantly, you may, like me, have a better perspective the next time you run into your own “Mary.”)

How do I really know that God directed me to pray for Mary? “But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44, ESV)

Because He said so!

Note: The above photo is not one of Mary. Taking a picture of her would have been crazy and dangerous. Do not attempt such a thing!

All Those Kids and Counting

shipinstormysea.whatevermylot

 

It’s been a rough few days for me.  For whatever reason, I’ve continued to become increasingly aware and focused upon the daily vulnerability we face as a large family.  There are just so many points of exposure, and I have no way of knowing what any day may bring.  While this has always been the case, it’s only been in recent months that I have allowed fear and worry to draw me so deeply into their snares.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched an episode of 19 Kids and Counting.  There on national television, the Duggar parents were told during an ultrasound that their unborn child was no longer living.  I know that mama’s heart broke at such news, but her immediate words were these…”The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I don’t know that I could say these words in the face of such tragedy.

Tonight, however, I opened my Bible reading app, and these words popped up on screen:  “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flowers of grass.  The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”  And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:24-25, ESV)

How the Gospel soothes the heart of an anxious mom.  Once again I am reminded that we are all here for a season–for a brief appointed moment in time.  Our hope doesn’t lie in hanging onto the condition of today, but rather in the assurance that Christ has died that we shall live eternally.  

And he will not abandon us.

There will be struggles.  There will be loss.  There will be amazing times and heart wrenching times and laughter and pain.  However, we have his promise that he will bring us through them all, ultimately escorting us into a glory beyond our wildest dreams.  

I Believe, BUT….

Image

 

I have to say it….there are some real downfalls to working as a bereavement counselor.  My work as such began in late 2009, when I accepted a position in victim services with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  Besides conducting individual counseling, I ran a support group comprised of moms who’d lost their children to drunk drivers.  This was an incredibly difficult task as a mom of six children.  The cases I encountered were converted into fear.  Every time my cell phone rings, my mind goes straight to those scenarios.  This is true in spite of God’s incredible sustaining mercy which has been manifested over the past 25 years of motherhood.

After leaving MADD, I spent a year at the local Children’s Bereavement Center serving children who’d suffered sibling loss.  There I encountered cases where children had been lost due to illness or accident.  I also acquired an entirely new database of scenarios involving painful, traumatic loss.  It is in light of such knowledge that I feel utterly helpless as a mother and grandmother. ” I must prevent these things from happening, but how?”

I’ll be honest…these past three weeks I’ve spent helping with my granddaughter, I’ve been very busy childproofing.  Every piece of furniture over two feet tall is bolted to the walls (yes, in the studs).  The cupboards are locked with the latest, greatest equipment.  Chemicals are out of reach.  Outlets are properly covered.  These are the things I can do, and they are good things.  I must, however, come to terms with this difficult and profound truth:  I am not and can never be God.  My children and my grandchild are in better, more capable, even more loving hands than my own.  The tragedies with which I’ve worked should not compel me into fear, but rather a deeper trust in the One who loves them more than I. 

I’d love for this paragraph to be the one in which I share with you how I have overcome my fear of tragic loss.  To the contrary, this is where I shall convey my need.  In Mark 9, Jesus is approached by a man whose begs for his son’s deliverance from an evil spirit.  When Jesus responds to him that “all things are possible to him who believes,” the father desperately cries out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (ESV).  When it comes to my trusting God with my offspring, I must confess that I have everything in common with this man.

How I love to end posts with insight–an example of victory or proclamation of faith.  But this very day I experienced panic when a child didn’t respond to a text for several hours and didn’t answer the phone.  (Sent another child to check on her!)   I have every reason to think that tomorrow will bring fear and anxiety of its own.  So consider this more of a prayer request, my way of crying out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”  May I not trust in myself, but in the One who has accompanied me through every dark time in my life and theirs. 

Jesus, surround my children and grandchild with your angels.  Guide them with your hand in the way that they should go.  And while you’re doing that, help me to trust in you.  Amen.