I had been dreading Friday, March 11, 2016 for months. That marked the first anniversary of my husband’s home going to heaven. In my experience, the dreading of something is usually much worse than the event itself.
In The Message, a Bible paraphrase in contemporary language, Matthew 6:34 reads, Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Wesley and Bethany had told me weeks earlier that they were coming from NC for a visit on this day and we had also invited Grandmother from GA to come so I was looking forward to seeing them. We met at Chick-fil-A for lunch because Nathan was working and they wanted to see him too. What I didn’t know was that Wesley and Bethany had swung by the airport to pick up Anna, our oldest daughter from Oklahoma! What a pleasant surprise and happy reunion we had at Chick-fil-A!
Bethany and I had planned to run in a half-marathon relay race with three other ladies on Saturday. Since the race started at 7:00am, we were up early and quietly getting ready to leave in the dark house. I noticed someone was sleeping on the sofa and I was trying to figure out who it was, Abigail, our youngest daughter from SC popped up and cheerfully said, “Good morning!” It has been almost a year since all four of my children have been in our home together. Although we were disappointed Anna’s husband, Danilo, couldn’t join us, we were so happy to be together again.
I have concluded that I can’t ever get enough time with my children. It is never enough. They are funny, silly and crazy so there’s lots of laughing. They frequently burst out in song or quote movie lines at random times.
We also enjoy sharing memories and having serious discussions. I love having to pull up chairs around the dining room table to make room for them and their friends who come to visit. This quiet house turns into a happy gathering place with lots of chatter and laughter. We love being together and making new memories.
Sunday morning, the day most of them would have to leave to go back to work and college, came all too quickly. As we were getting ready for church, we started discussing singing a song for the worship service. (David and I taught our children lots of songs over the years and we often sang together in church. But it is really rare now that we can all be together to sing.)
One suggested a song and another said they thought it would be more meaningful to sing something most of the congregation would not know. We only had thirty minutes to prepare a song and get three cars loaded up to leave because they were leaving right after church and lunch to go back to their homes. They started practicing one song, but another one felt it couldn’t be learned in the few fading minutes that were left.
I began to see the loving bond that had been building all weekend begin to evaporate before my eyes as it was replaced with anger, offenses, and resentment. By the time we needed to leave for church, everyone was either mad, sad, indifferent or all the above. At this point, the song didn’t matter. I knew somehow we had to get our relationships back in good standing before everyone went their separate ways.
I thought about Proverbs 6:16-19. Again, I’ll quote from The Message…
Here are six things GOD hates, and one more he loathes with a passion:
- eyes that are arrogant,
- a tongue that lies,
- hands that murder the innocent,
- a heart that hatches evil plots,
- feet that race down a wicked track,
- a mouth that lies under oath,
- a troublemaker in the family.
God hates division among the brethren. There we were wanting to be a blessing to others and glorify God in song and what a mess we were in! How did it go so wrong in a mere 30 minutes? That’s when I think I began to realize what was really happening.
There is an invisible but very real spiritual warfare going on around us. Good is fighting evil all the time. That’s why it is important we obey the command in Ephesians 6:11.
We are in a fight and we need to recognize our enemy. It isn’t each other, it is the devil. I Peter 5:8 says, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. Jesus told Peter that the devil wished to sift him like wheat. (Luke 22:31)
It is so easy to get angry with others and think they and their attitudes are the problem, but we have an unseen enemy at work that plants bad thoughts in our minds. If we don’t recognize where this is coming from, we will act on those thoughts and lash out at others when our real enemy is the devil trying to divide us.
Did they sing a song? No, they did not, but they did something much more important than that. They extended necessary apologies along with grace and forgiveness. I warned my children that they have a heart for serving God and loaded with potential to do great things for God and the devil knows it and will fight them every step of the way.
May we keep in mind who our real enemy is…the devil and not each other. May we guard ourselves with the armor God has provided for us, for we are defenseless without it. Keep fighting the good fight! And keep making those precious memories with the ones you love!
Keep looking up,