Yeah, today didn’t go as planned.
I woke up thinking: I should be on an island getting dressed in my new Tommy Bahama shirt and linen pants for our Keats island wedding. A wedding that was birthed out of a relationship with Ruth that seemed absolutely perfect – a “God thing.”.
We had our future all dreamed out: A home on Keats Island, a home in the city. Writing several books we had thought about and discussed. Enjoying writing and quiet times together on the island. We had a great evening thinking about names for the beach house and really laughed at Sea-Esta. We wanted to travel together so I might show her the world. I had already booked trips to San Diego, Alberta, Toronto, Ireland and she was going to come to Rwanda with me in the new year.
Ruth was wide-eyed at the prospects. We saw ourselves ministering together together with a focus on young adults and helping Barnabas however we could. Ruth and I enjoy being grandparents and loving our kids so family would be a big part of our new life together. Entertaining, concerts, holidays, Disneyland, speaking together about our beautiful story, encouraging hope in God. All of these exciting dreams. We had a plan!
All these dreams, and all were threatened with the diagnosis that Ruth’s cancer was back. It was back with a vengeance and eight days later she passed through surrounded by her family and loved ones.
Blueprint for future life
You and I all have plans/dreams for our future. I was cherishing and nurturing dreams with Ruth, holding them close to my heart. She and I finally had a new blueprint that we would attempt to build our future lives according to. I’m sure you, in your quiet moments away from the busyness of day to day living, have some dreams that you are cherishing and that you desperately hope for. Well I’m 63 this year and, over the experience of life, have come to know that we don’t always get our way. God, haven’t I learned that already? I would have thought that the death of Brenda (my wife) and other twists and turns in my life and leadership would have taught me by now. Yet I still find the desire to try and meticulously plan the details so nothing is left to chance.
This quote from Steve Kellmeyer, Catholic author and culture commentator, caught me with the accuracy and potency of his words.
“There is a war that each of us fights within ourselves. When unforeseen difficulty arises, when our initial choice demands of us a sacrifice we did not foresee and when this sacrifice we unknowingly chose strikes at the very heart of what we cling to, what will we do?”
What will I do?
What will we do when we are shaken to the very core of who we are by something we could not possibly have anticipated. When our faith, hope, excitement and happiness are challenged so strongly that it paralyzes, what will we do?
Over the past weeks I have gone to some dark places in my thoughts. Places where what I claim to believe has been once again, put to the test. Places where I wanted to abandon what I have committed most of my life to. I wondered if I would ever find the strength to believe and hope again knowing that answers to all my “why” questions would end up falling into the answer category of Job 36:26, “Look, God is greater than we can understand.”
Will I have the courage and strength to take all the pieces of what I thought was a perfectly future and place them in the realization that our lives are beautifully imperfect.
The way you answer the question, “What will I do?”, can or will be the making of us. Surrounded and accepted by my family and close friends I feel supported this day in choosing not to lose confidence in myself, or in God. Today, most of Ruth’s family and grandchildren gathered together will all my clan. We just wanted to be together. It’s unusual because we are not family, yet we are very much family. We realize that what we will do is a choice, and we want to encourage the best decisions based on faith.
I want my faith to arise.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, I have decided to take some time to mourn. To give permission to go to peaceful places, remembering our memories and our dreams. To wrestle with God about further areas I need to submit to him. To not be afraid to admit my feelings and keep talking to God until I rest in the fact that somehow, he is going to work this out for good.
I want my faith to arise. I have encouraged many while mentoring not to let your setbacks define who you are. I don’t want this setback to do that to myself. After all, I’m a child of God and that is my identity. Learning to submit to God means learning to trust and follow him even when you don’t think his way makes sense. So today. I choose today to trust him regardless of the outcome.
Yeah, today didn’t go as planned.