Saturday, November 15, 2008
Just The Way It Is - NOW!
Here's Vinnie 30+ years ago in the US Army. What a handsome guy, right?
I have had an amazing week. It started out so sad, exhausting, almost depressing. I seemed to cry at every turn last week and I was beginning to wonder if it were really possible for me I live without Vinnie. But Thursday I had a few events suddenly change course - you know those days where you think something is going a certain direction, you proceed to do all the things that it takes to get the task done, you think all along how awesome God is that He put such a perfect plan together - and all of a sudden, the door SLAMS shut! That was my Thursday.
While the day started out sad as did the other days of this past week, I suddenly found myself asking God, "What's going on? Why did you do this? I am not upset, in fact, I am sure you shut this door but I sense you are trying to teach me something here. Please show me what it is!" I began to think about the fact that I am bull headed sometimes. If I see a need, I sometimes don't wait on God - oh, I do pray about it, but since I am so sure something needs to be done and no one else is going to do it (of course, ha! ha!) then I best get all the steam I can power up and Gooooo! That's me! So by the time I went to bed on Thursday, I was doing a lot of talking to God. I also attended my Thursday night GriefShare group and came away realizing that in fact, I can and will, live my life without Vinnie. It is possible and will happen, because God took Vinnie and left me here. It's that simple. That's the way it is now.
So Friday night, just to add some frosting to the cake, I had a friend over for dinner. We had a wonderful time to together, as we often do when we get girlfriend time with each other. But one question she asked me kept haunting me the rest of the night. You see I've been trying to help my daughter and her family find a new place to rent. I've gone out of the way to search, make phone calls, and basically run myself ragged over it. Why, she asked, are you dong all this work? (you probably are asking too, right?) Well, it appears that bad habits over the years have reigned and I do some things like I've always done them, forgetting that my daughter is 24 now, quite responsible, and able to do this on her own! What's the matter with me?! I know - I am a sinner. I have fears, I have a lot of fears. That's the lesson for this week! If I am controlled by my fears and habits, how can I also submit to God? I can't! The result? I will not see what amazing answer God can provide!
I have often thought it interesting that God put Jesus in the home of a carpenter. Jesus learned to build with wood. He's not here physically now but He still builds - He builds His people, layer by layer, step by step, piece by piece; He builds us into a sanctuary where God can dwell! When I look back (and it is crucial to do this at times!) on how God's built my faith, I am in awe. Here's an example.
One time when I was still a pretty young Believer, we had a friend work on our roof. Midway through the project, he got called away and could not come back for a week. My husband was also out of town that week for a few days and would you know - it rained, no - POURED - all week long! The tarp used to cover the unfinished work on the roof had blown off and guess what started to happen? You got it - it started to pour inside too! One strip of ceiling, from one end of the house to the other started leaking. I had several buckets and bowls in two of the bedrooms and some in the stairway too. I was so afraid the whole ceiling would crumble to the floor. The money we were trying to save by doing the roof ourselves was going to cost us more than we'd ever be able to afford to fix. I was so upset!
I sat on the stairway crying my head off and my oldest daughter who about 10 at the time, said something like, "Mom, I think we need to pray that God would move the storm so the roof will not be able to leak anymore." I said something along the lines of, "That's ridiculous! You heard the weather report on TV this morning. This is slow moving storm and won't be gone for another two days!" She reminded me that Jesus moved a storm when he was on a boat with the disciples and he could move this storm too - if we just had faith. She insisted that God wanted us to have the faith to pray this. I told her that if SHE had the faith, she could pray. I'd pray with her but I was not able to ask for this, she'd have to. She did pray, it was a sweet prayer. We got up and put more buckets around the house. About 15 or 20 minutes later, it seemed as though the rain was not coming down as heavy. It seemed as though the clouds were not quite so dark and heavy. And..honest to God, in 30 minutes it stopped raining! I could not believe my own eyes!!! Just for fun, I wanted to see if the weather channel had picked up on this small pocket of the world no longer having a storm that was to last two more days. Even they were amazed at how fast, all of a sudden, "that storm moved out to sea!"
I have countless stories like this! I could write a whole blog or even a book on the many specific things we felt compelled to pray over the years - big things, little things - and God answered them. (I should interject here that God sometimes answer prayer with a "NO!" or a "Wait" but he does always answer). I can't go into more of them now. But I tell you this to make a point. God builds our faith by showing us He's faithful in little things and then a little bigger things, and then even bigger things. I hope you get the idea here. He builds us in strength too - a little here and there and more and more as each new need for strength arises. He does it with perseverance, and so many other things. He builds us to be temples of the Living God, one layer at at time.
I should know by now that if I have faith, and my daughter has faith, even if bad things fall on her or her family - God is in control! He wants to build their faith, the kid's faith, her faith, her husband's faith. Gosh, as He works in their lives, He is still building more of my faith! Maybe when Vinnie was here, we didn't turn to God every single time we should have. We didn't have to. He was there to the rescue. I am not saying he wasn't suppose to fill that role for us - yes, he was our protector. He just did too good a job at it! And I've been doing the same thing since Vinnie was sick - running like a bull to fix it, take over, and take charge. I have prevented either of us from seeing what amazing things God would do in a difficult situation. (The picture below is Vinnie before marriage - a long haired clown!)
But here's the deal - that was then and THIS is NOW. Just as I have to spend time now discovering how God is to be a Husband to me now that Vinnie is gone, so my daughter has to discover in a deeper, more real and consistent way, how God is a Father to her now that Vinnie is gone. He's been building our faith to get us to this point. I can trust he will take care of her, her children, her family. I can trust He will take care of me and will fill every single area of my life once consumed in Vinnie. No need for fear. There is instead a need for faith - a new layer of faith, a layer that is built on all the other layers God's built in me, in us, in times past, because after all - that's just the way it is NOW! It's not Biblically true that God doesn't give us more than we can handle! It seems to me that God often times gives us more than we can handle! But He gives us more when He's proven Himself in the layer before and the layer before that, etc. He builds this so we will see that He can and will use the present (key word here-present, NOW) for HIS glory and our good. It's too easy to think life's all about me/us. It's about Him and He wants to be glorified. He gives us more than we can handle because he's trying to get people like me to stop being bull headed and storm through hard times tough as nails fixing everything and keeping myself and others from being hurt and relying on Him too! He's trying to get us to live in the present, not fear the future or expect life will be like it was yesterday! Each day is a new day with new troubles of it's own. He wants us to face life - just the way it is NOW, with faith, with peace, with trust - in Him!