Saturday, August 15, 2009

Grief...Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 A time for Everything...

This week a friend of ours son died of multiple wounds from 2 pit bulls. He was trying to protect a smaller dog from harm and the dogs turned on him. He was a young 20 year old. A kind gentle young man with a huge heart and a wonderful sense of humor. We attended his funeral yesterday and I sat there watching two grieving parents bury their son. The church was filled with over 200 family, friends, friends of family. The sadness, tears, agony, despair was all around us. My husband hesitated about going at first but in the end he knew it was something he had to do. He was worried about what to wear. I told him, "It won't matter what you wear, it will matter that you are there". I was surprised to see the level of support, the range of ages, the different ways of paying respect. It was a Catholic service and I was unfamiliar with the traditions, but I was sure of one thing. God was there.

The Priest said two things that stood out to me. 1) That we often question if the deceased is in heaven. He reminded us that God chose us. 2) The second was that the more the extreme suffering the greater the room for love.

Many were asking "Why God? Why Carter?" I asked What God? What are we to learn here, How will our lives change?" This morning this burden of sadness was still with me. I was tearful, tired, emotional, and I took off on a hiking trail along the water and contemplated this with God. And here were his answers to me.

I have often questioned two things in my relationship with God. This unconditional love that he offers us and the thought that perhaps I don't truly understand what love is or what it feels to love unconditionally. In our humaneness we struggle with unconditional love and if we are honest that sometimes we get so angry with a spouse or child that if even for the briefest moment, our feelings change, and we wonder. Our love is challenged. We may have favorite friends who we care for more, or siblings that we just get along better with, and sometimes we question whether we are truly loving people if we can have such negative thoughts.

But in sight of death, unconditional love emerges. We forget the past, the bad choices, hurtful words, idiosyncrasies of the person who is now gone. I think its because at the moment Jesus takes over in our lives and our hearts are pure. It is in those moments that we are given God's greatest gift. His son Jesus Christ.

It's hard to say how many lives will change from this ordeal. Some may walk away from God feeling the need to blame him for taking this young man so soon. Some may draw closer to him because they know that life is too short. I do not know. Some may find Jesus. And Carter will have the glory of viewing it from Jesus's viewpoint.

I am sure that another life lesson I was to learn from this is that its important that we stop and take time to pour out God's love to everyone we come in contact with. That our mission from God is to Love Him and to Love Others. Those are the two greatest commandments. We sometimes get caught up in daily tasks neglecting what is important. On that dreadful day, no one knew that in the afternoon this young man would be gone. No one knew.

In the midst of great suffering, great love will emerge. Let your love shine through the eyes of Jesus Christ. A wonderful prayer was read during the service and I will print it tomorrow. I think it is a wonderful testament to what can lie ahead for all of us. It is all in God's time. Not ours. Life on earth is short. Live in the present.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bible Verse Challenge...

I had an "aha" moment with God today and usually a verse comes to mind, or I see it on a license plate or I turn right to it in the bible, but today nothing came. I know it will, he teaches me that way, but I thought rather than wait for the verse why not share my story with you while I wait for his voice. Perhaps he wants the verse to come to me from you. Someone will find this blog, and know the exact verse that applies to me and the lesson. But if not now, I know it will come.

I have so often agonized over my job, I wake thinking about it, I argue it out in my head, I anticipate problems before they happen and even though they usually do and I am always prepared when they come, I find that its not the most healthy place to be. First it takes me away from quiet time with God, Second, it gets me all riled up about the job and I become obsessed with the job and forget about all that surrounds me.

Today God told me that work is to take 8 hours. After that, its my time. Time with my family, my friends, my husband. I devote 8 hours of strong, hard steady work to my job, and then that is it. The rest of the time is time spent on me, my relationship with God, my relationship with my family. Work will have to wait.

For me, this was a jolt to my daily routine of waking up, thinking about what lies ahead, feeling miserable and not wanting to go in, blah, blah, blah. Today I approached it differently. I owe them 8 focused hours. That is it. So on the way home, my husband and I talked about other things, made plans for our vacation, cooked dinner together.

I came home and didn't check my emails, and it is a little difficult breaking the habit, but I turned off the blackberry, we ate dinner on time, I was able to sort through some mail, make my husband's lunch. I had more energy, more time for me, more time for us. I was even friendlier.

I seem to have lost track of what was important. The job pays the bills. The title, the pay, the status means nothing to the Lord all he wants is a relationship with me. He wants me to put my priorities in other places. Places I have neglected. Its going to be an interesting journey over the next few weeks. I know its all part of his plan. It's so exciting to have someone so focused on me as his child. And we all can have that relationship with him. We can all let it go and let him do his work in us.

You know some might shy away from or ignore the lessons that God has for us, or even his plans. But lately I have found that by sitting still, listening to him, doing my best to hear and follow his direction is well worth the investment. Less stress, more time, more peace. A restful place to land.