Last Friday I received a text from my Aunt letting me know that my Uncle was in the hospital in Baker City, Oregon, where he lives. Then on Sunday, he ended up in Ontario, OR for possible emergency surgery, which happened late that day. My Aunt and I came over and visited with him prior to surgery, wait and hear how things went. Surgery was a great success.
I had a busy week planned. Writing, getting ready for my book launch on Friday, and learning Adobe Acrobat Pro! So, this was one of those unexpected things! Funny how they seem to happen when we are in the busiest time or just not in the mood for another addition to your agenda! Might as well be honest, I have had those days when unexpected things were definitely not met with a smile. In fact, while writing this blog – I had one. The program I was using decided to wipe out over half of what I had written. I stopped, said, “ok God”, texted my friend Tami to express my frustration, then went back to work. What I wrote the second time was better than the first? I didn’t allow that initial pang of frustration to overwhelm me. Got my frustration out and went on.
Back to my Uncle He is 14 years older than I am and when I was growing up, he was my hero. I thought he was Superman! He was one of the only family members my Mom really stayed in touch with and that made him even more special. When he was in the Navy, he would come to see us wearing his uniform and I was in awe of him. I have always loved him. He would come and visit us and we would go to the Pike in Long Beach, CA, where I lived. He would walk around with me and even go on the Roller Coaster which went out over the ocean! None of it is there any longer but it lives in my memories of my Uncle. So, this unexpected thing is my pleasure. Yes, it’s inconvenient and I’ve had to rearrange all my plans. But, I don’t mind. It’s my chance to repay his love and give back for the times he watched out for me.
Those unexpected things can come in a great variety of packages. Your child left his homework at home and you have a big presentation to do. You’re going on a well-earned vacation in 3 days and your best friend dies suddenly. You’ve been running 25 to 30 miles a day for 6 months – you are ready for next week’s marathon, but you get up in the night, hit your toe and break it – goodbye Marathon. You are a starting a new job today, your husband is at home with the flu, and you car tire just went flat on the way to your first day at the new job – that’s when that friend you have tried and tried to help (with no results) calls.
The usual pattern for most is to immediately go into the “I can take care of this” mode. The second thing is that your brain sends a message to your emotions, “Break loose guys!” The emotions come out anywhere from utter disbelief, to anger, crying, throwing something, freezing, going into shock, or a whole Hollywood movie variety show! Then, somewhere near the end of the “thing,” or the end of you, the realization strikes that perhaps you should have done more than just throw up a 911 prayer. While that was a very good thing to do, you forgot the next step – the one that might have prevented the meltdown. That step is to stop, breathe, then listen. Listen till you hear that still small voice. Stop until you have a hint of His peace rolling back in over the top of the wave of emotions which have now turned into a muddy puddle. How long you have to stop depends on you and the situation, but even 2 minutes is better than nothing at all.
The thing you don’t want to do is to condemn yourself. I believe God has a wonderful sense of humor and timing. After all, He went along with you on the short trip to mayhem, even though you forgot to invite Him. The Holy Spirit was speaking even if you weren’t listening. When you started to fall into the puddle, His hands were already outstretched to catch you. I think He must often look down on me and say, “Oh my child. When will you learn?” Then He chuckles at me. He knows I will eventually remember what I forgot to do in the first place – let Him lead. He does not condemn me or you for that. He just uses it to help us the next time.
There are times when something is so terrible happens that, while you are frozen in shock, He just goes ahead and takes care of things. He understands and will never leave you all alone in that place. The great thing for us is that each time this happens, we learn a little more about His grace, His power, and His unfathomable love. He will never condemn or ridicule. He will just patiently build Himself inside of us as long as we let Him.
So, when that next unexpected thing comes -whether it’s large or small – just remember – He was way ahead of you. He is just waiting for you to see. And, even if you don’t see Him until you are covered in mud, all He cares about is that you finally looked up!