Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sometimes God says, 'This one's yours'

Sometimes God clearly says: This one's yours.
That's what happened after my friend Kathy's husband died. My first reaction was to feel regretful and ashamed that I had not visited Chuck or even sent a card during this extended hospital stay. I did pray often for him and for Kathy. But I felt like I should have done more.

The next day, during my prayer time at church, I mentioned that I felt ashamed and regretful for not being a better friend. As I journaled while I prayed, I wrote down that whatever I did now would be too little too late. But I continued to pray. Another thought was that maybe God is calling other people to visit and comfort now, and my time will come later. But that seemed pretty much like rationalization to me.

I was actually surprised when, soon after I returned home, I picked up the phone and called Kathy. I usually procrastinate or make excuses not to call (she'll be too busy, etc.), but this time I did call. And Kathy answered. And we talked. We spoke of Chuck's indomitable spirit and optimism and Kathy's loving care. I mentioned that I had recently tried to find the words for the song she had asked me to sing at their wedding 20 years ago ("Mizpah [May Your Love Flow Like a Fountain]") -- and she asked if I would sing it at Chuck's memorial service. I don't think that had even occurred to me. But how could I not say yes. And so I did, even though I had been previously unsuccessful in tracking down those lyrics. Not surprisingly, after I hung up the phone, I went to the computer and found the lyrics. Six days later, I sang at the celebration of this dear man's life.

This may sound like it's about me, but it is about God. OK, maybe it is about me: How I see God working. (I know I only see a glimpse of what God is doing, and I don't know whether my perceptions of what I see are even accurate.) Anyway, throughout that week of remembering and celebrating Chuck's life were reminders of how God calls us to live. Listed as Chuck's favorite quotes: "Trust God, clean house and work with others." "Live in the now." "I try not to complain, condemn or criticize." Also included were the Rotary Club four-way test (is it true? is it fair ...? will it build goodwill ...? will it be beneficial ...?) and the long version of "The Serenity Prayer." Chuck lived these principles, providing an example that these nice platitudes really are possible to exemplify, even in the face of massive, ultimately fatal health problems, not to mention a difficult childhood and many other kinds of rocky places in life along the way.

As I've written before and found myself pondering again with the memorial service Tuesday, I don't understand why I fail to act on so many opportunities to call, send a card, visit or help, whether it be just to maintain a friendship or to be Christ's love to someone who is lonely, grieving or in need. But even when I seem to fall short, I just keep praying to know and DO God's will. And sometimes, such as this, God seems to clearly say: "This one's yours." I'm grateful I was able to hear, and I pray to continue to grow in awareness and responsiveness to such calls.

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