Thursday, June 22, 2017

When Life Isn't Funny But God is Still Good


"You need to get back to your old blog," someone said to me recently. "You know, back when you told everyday-God stories." "You're never funny anymore..."

I've pondered those comments almost every day since they were made more than a month ago. 

I've worried... Have I lost my way? 

What I've come to realize is that my blog's theme has always been "faith lived out loud." There are seasons when things are funny and lighthearted and easy to share. There are seasons when things are not so light and not so easy to share. 

I've moved into one of those hard seasons. I'm still living my faith out loud, but it's not funny right now, and that's part of life. 

Sometimes, I write out of the experience of the day. Sometimes, I write out of the experience of my quiet time. Lately, I'm writing from my quiet time because it's the part of my day that's keeping me grounded and helping me through.

My sweet neighbor, Sam Wiley, has not been doing well. He's frail and wobbly. The highlight of this week was when Hospice brought out a new walker with wheels on it. He's mostly not eating, is losing weight, and has put reality to the term, "skin and bones." 

I'm stretched between Sam and ministry and home. Everything seems important, and there aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done. 

Do I still see daily God-things? Yes. Lots. In fact, I see God do much more than I can tell. I can't share most of it because I don't dare risk endangering a missionary in a high-risk country. I won't share many of the things that happen at home because I don't want to be funny at Sam's expense. That's not my kind of humor. 

Sam stories aren't as funny as they used to be, and they're poignant in a very different way. 

I was driving to church with Sam in the passenger seat recently. "I've got to do something about my eyes. I can't see out of my glasses at all," he complained.

I kept my eyes on the road. "Sam the doctor already told you he couldn't do anything to help your eyes. They've done all they can do. New glasses won't help."

"I'm just gonna go blind then?"

"No, Sam. It's about as bad as it's gonna get. But new glasses won't help." I turned to look at Sam for a second and nearly swerved off the road. "Sam, new glasses won't help, but your glasses might."

"What're you talking about?"

"You've got on Jamie's glasses, not yours. It's no wonder you can't see."

After Jamie died, eighteen months ago, Sam put her glasses on the kitchen table. They've been there ever since. That particular day, Sam picked them up and wore then instead of his own.

In case you're wondering, dementia is relentless. It kicks you in the teeth when you least expect it, and it never lets up.

I wanted to cry. 

Instead, I reminded myself that, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us. We aren't doing this alone, even when it's hard. 

His rod and His staff protect us and direct us even when the funny is long since over. 

Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. One day, things will be easier again. They'll probably be funny again, too.

We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Sam and I are confident of that truth, and he's looking forward to that glorious day when He sees our Savior face to face. 

Life may not be funny right now, but it's sweet. It may be difficult, but it's also beautiful. 

I know I could choose an easier path. I know that most people do. I've chosen the path God laid out for me, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Neither would Sam. 

One day, I'll look back on this hard time and thank God that He helped me through. I'm doing that already. 

Faith lived out loud isn't always easy or funny or interesting, but it's always sweet, and beautiful, and it's worth it. 

"So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6 nlt
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