My stepdad (who was very good to me) passed away just after I left California more than three weeks ago. His celebration-of -life memorial was yesterday. It was way too soon for me to get another ticket to fly back. My comfort was the possibility of doing FB livestream (which, like a status update actually has a setting of selected viewers instead of public). I was so excited to wake up at 5 am on Sunday (my day off) to be able to partake of the event.
A kind-hearted person who doesn’t have a major hosting task agreed to do it. And so the livestream started!
I heard the rabbi speak from Ecclesiastes 3
3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.
Then the livestream was cut off. I got the text from the kind-hearted person who agreed to do it, “I’ll get back with you in a little bit. Kinda awkward during this right now.” An hour passed. All quiet.
Thoughts started coming. “If I were there and people who couldn’t afford to come were hoping that I could share with them the event, would I leave a stone unturned? If I committed to doing something such that people trusted me enough in my commitment not to look for alternative persons to do a task, would I renege based on feeling awkward?” Well, anyway, sadness turned to disappointment to frustration. Before my feelings could progress any further, I asked God. “What are my choices Lord? I really would have been there if I could have afforded it but I’m oceans away.”
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Things didn’t go your way?
My choice was to turn to God’s word. Aren’t we blessed, we are not limited to our own combustible thought processes.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
It’s extremely easy for me to be angry and judge. But do I know the context of the other person’s choice? No I don’t. It’s always easier to be Simon Cowell than the contestant, the food critic than the cook.
God knows my desire to be there and how I would love to hear other people’s tribute to honor my stepdad too. The last thing the rabbi said reminded me that there is a time for everything and this time was unfolding itself as God’s appointed time for me not to partake of the event.
Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” I could let my dissatisfaction make my bitterness grow which in turn will cause trouble and defile others. But God’s command is to ensure grace-giving. I could sense a message of “Give grace just as you need grace.”
No one is obliged to do me a favor and whatever they are able to do is actually out of their kindness and is appreciated.
Instead of grumbling in my heart, give thanks (in all circumstances). God already blessed me with an opportunity to see my stepdad the day before he passed on. And the privilege to know him in his life. My satisfaction and encouragement is dependent not on circumstances but on God.
And with that, I listened to my Audible book, Stormie Omartian’s The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children, then packed for my upcoming trip until it was time for Sunday service. Then one of my sisters gave me a summary of the memorial and soon it was time for a fun family lunch then bonding time with my sister-in-law and niece, then dinner with the beloved.
Instead of concentrating on the things that didn’t go my way (which I surrendered to God), thanksgiving and Word-obeying gave the promised fruit of peace with the bonus of joy and laughter to enjoy the blessings God has appointed.
If I did this more and you did this more and we all help others do this more, do you think there will be less mental illness and rage shooting in the world? Well, it can’t hurt to try.