I suspect that most of us have been in that situation where it seems like we have gone to bed in a rose garden, only to awaken in the midst of some forsaken briar patch with all the prickly thorns finding an opening anywhere available to inflict their painful presence. Well, that may be overstated, but you likely get the essence of my meaning. Things don’t stay the same for very long and some days the most unexpected pops up to change the course of our lives and interrupt the calm demeanor of our state of mind. Some might say that is “Murphy’s Law” and no I am not referring to an old acquaintance by that name should he be reading this. It means that if something bad is going to happen it will happen to me. But, most often it is just a matter of happen-stance; circumstance that just happens when life spins on its own path and beyond our control. There are some that will argue that bad things happen when we are not in communion with God as he decrees. I beg to differ on that argument. I have known too many instances where bad things have happened to good people who love the Lord with all their hearts and serve Him to the best of their ability. We tend to forget that Satan is at hand in the world, and he casts his net to drag in whoever will be caught, while in the fog of doubt, or who are often under the influence of pain, sorrow and often even misinformation.
There is never a good time for most things that “crop up” in a negative context in our lives. We may tell ourselves that we are prepared, or at least have done our best to steel ourselves against the worst that may come, but it is folly to assume that the reality of change, in its worst scenarios, can just be shrugged off and we can continue on with life, while dealing with earth-shattering problems at hand. Over the past few weeks my family has dealt with a grave illness of a dear Aunt and now the death of my dear father-in-law, who had gone to the city for what was to be only a minor operation. Granted, he was 90, but the expectation from most of us was that he would have his surgery and, as stated by the surgeon, return home the next day.
Things do not always happen according to plan. I was ambling along at just daybreak… I was in my late teens at the time. I approached the brow of a hill and looked at the steam rising from a picturesque lake stretched before me. A sloping grass covered lane that I had traveled on, made its way downward toward the lake. With sunrise awakening my senses, it was like a mystical garden, a beauty that is difficult to describe, which lay before my eyes. The forest on each side of the lane was not dense and from out of its cover walked 2-3 deer. OK… yes, I was deer hunting. It was my first time, without the company of my Dad. Now a hunter’s first inclination is to raise his gun, take careful aim at the most desired deer and pull the trigger. Well… that was not to be. I watched the deer eye me with gentle curiosity and then amble off into the under-brush, opposite the entrance they had made. It was not a short hesitation for them. They stood there perhaps a few minutes and as a young hunter I just stood there mesmerized by the site of their beauty and the natural state of freedom they were enjoying. So… what did you do you are asking? You likely have guessed by virtue of my description. I unloaded my rifle and walked that long lane, several miles back to the vehicle, and never went deer hunting again. So now your reflection might be, ”Did I miss something here?” No! I, as it sometimes happens, have now digressed.
That feeble attempt at a long rehearsed memory, much shared with my children, still haunts me to this day. It does not fall in the same category as perhaps an unexpected death, but reminds me that not everything is according to plan. My intention that day was to finally become an experienced hunter, providing venison for the table, but that didn’t happen. These are some of the things that we realize, as we begin to find our footing in life. It becomes necessary to make mature decisions based on our particular nature, the direction of our psychological preferences and resign ourselves to the fact that we must deal with those quick unexpected changes in our own way. It is not necessary for us to either defend our personal perspectives in all matters, or be forced to make decisions based upon someone else’s ideals. Cough, cough! I know that was a mouthful. Here’s the skinny on that thought. Sometimes I just need to sit down and have a good cry. Not a “manly” thing to do some might say. But I have to, in my own personal way, release my burden of pain, so that God has room to work on my soul. It matters not to me, at this juncture in life, what the world may think of that odd sampling of courage, that such a “world-defined weakness” demands. Yes readers, I am admitting that I do cry from time to time, when I am overwhelmed and the sadness beyond which I have no control, runs amuck in my life, or the life of those I love or know. I didn’t cry that day I watched those deer walk out of sight, just because I forgot to shoot; it was because my heart said, “How can you harm that beautiful creature?”… And a feeling of guilt for thinking that I might shoot, not remorse for not shooting, had crept into my heart.
Ok… now you are wondering; does this soppy wimp eat meat? Well, yes I do. I even eat deer meat when someone offers me a steak or roast. I have eaten it as hamburger and the occasional mince pie… so I am not against its consumption, but my heart is just not in taking their life. That is one of life’s strange twists, which is better left to another blog… as I smile a twisted smile of “Oh ya… like that is going to happen!” I digress!
“Can the awful things that just pop into our lives when we least expect them, be of divine providence?” … One of my students once asked me. I wish that I had all the answers for people. It would be great to fully understand our Sovereign God, and be able to bring full insight into every circumstance of life to all those who fall into the category of inquirers/searchers, but that is not to be. We are given a day… that day is today and we are not given a key to the map cabinet, where the great charts of life’s course are stored. We are the deck hands, the men and women who climb the rigging and trim the sails at the captain’s command. I am not sure I want to be apprised of the days ahead, like some would strive to discover. Many there are who favor the prophetic symbols of the apocalyptic writings and/or some mystic references… Yes, even striving to add to or more fully project greater meaning from God’s Holy Word. But the Word tells us that no one will know the day or the hour of Christ’s return. No manner of prophetic message from those proclaimed “seers” of contemporary time, will ever fully enable mankind to understand what is happening, with any more accuracy than merely trying to hazard a guess.
We have much to be thankful for as Christians. No matter the trial or tribulation of the moment, we are not alone. Our family may be rocked by news of illness, and then face a death bringing sadness and questions of the future for our dear Mom, but God has everything in hand… He cares for us... we just have to allow Him to shelter us from the stormy blast of fear and discomfort, amidst the assailing of those crushing events. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us of that very thing. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths”. While our hearts are searching for answers to those questions of, “What just happened here and why?”… God is at work in our lives, even while we are still reeling from the news of change and apparent disruption in our life plans. There is no Band-Aid that can just fix a little scratch to our psyche, like a mother applying a plaster to an abrasion in our childhood. No… this stuff is for real, and we try to catch our breath and wonder how the next few moments will become even tenable at the very least.
Those moments are present where we are pushed near the edge. There is only one tether here, only one true life-jacket available in those situations. The human touch helps a bit, but it can’t erase the pain of loss, or our security now unhinged, and the hole that is left, as the void widens in acknowledgement that this is for real. Some people say; “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Well, while there is some degrees of sense, found in this philosophical prophesy, I still maintain that something is going to take my life someday, and in the meantime I am still a man with tears in my eyes from time to time. I am sure happy that I can hear my God remind me that, while I am weak, He is always strong. I can live there… on that edge… with God beside me as my (Isa 9:6) …Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace; while He is also King of King and Lord of Lords. You and I are not alone through those horrible turns in life, which can leave us spinning and afraid. God is standing on the edge with us, and can give us a different perspective from there, if we let Him. Why not ask Him (God) to be there with you today and always… even when you are shoved unexpectedly to the edge. Be blessed, and I am praying for you!