In last night’s Bible study we talked about believing what we know about God, even when that’s not what we see—that truth is more important than reality. Let me tell you about my day.
First some background. My dad is 88 years old. When I was growing up he had a temper, but it was rarely directed at anyone other than himself. He was popular—a salesman who never met a stranger. He loved to laugh and tell jokes (always clean, as far as I knew). In 1990 he lost his sight due to a combination of macular degeneration and a stroke to the optic nerve. About that same time he started to suffer the effects of degenerative hearing loss due to an explosion he was near while serving in the military during WWII. Over the past few years he’s suffered a series of small strokes which have left him a little unstable on his feet. Last fall he had a severe stroke that affected his short-term memory. So, while he’s fine on his own for a little while, Mom doesn’t leave him for long stretches of time.
Most of the year Mom and Dad live in central Florida, but for a few months in the summer they come up and stay near my brother. He lives about 90 minutes south of me. This is no reflection on their feelings for me. My brother owns a duplex where they can stay and be near his small children (7½ and almost 5). Mom is quite a bit younger than dad, and still very active and vital. These are important things for you to know as I tell you about my day.
Mom had a date with a friend for lunch and some shopping. I had agreed to dad-sit. Mom informed me that Dad wanted to go to a particular restaurant, and let me know his preferred meal there. On my way down, on a day projected to be in the mid-90s with high humidity, my air conditioner quit. Frustrating, but manageable. Dad and I spent some time together before heading out to lunch. As you might be able to imagine, taking a blind and nearly deaf man who can’t walk very easily out to eat at a steakhouse is a bit of a challenge. But, we managed. After lunch we stopped by my brother’s house so I could give his kids some things I’d brought back for them from a recent business trip. Then we headed back to the duplex.
When we arrived dad said he had to potty. For the next ten minutes he asked how to unbutton his pants; asked if he was at the toilet; asked if he should sit down; said he couldn’t potty and asked what he should do. Each time he’d give up and get his pants fastened, he’d insist he had to potty and go through the whole process again. He became frustrated enough to start swearing at me (not at all like Dad). Finally, on the sixth try, he managed to do what he needed to do.
By now it was just after 4 p.m. Mom called to say that she’d be home about 8. At right about 5 p.m. Dad started getting agitated again. He was concerned that I’d get home too late. He wanted me to go. The swearing started again. Knowing that he’d be fine on his own for a little while, and, frankly, concerned a bit about his health with the level of anger he was experiencing, I left. I did alert both my brother (who lives less than 10 minutes away) and Mom that I was leaving and why. (Dad did fine after I left. Mom told me she usually gives him ½ of a mild tranquilizer in the evening. Note to self: ask Mom about those kinds of things in the future.)
As you might imagine, I was drained and at my wit’s end by the time I headed home. I had several stops to make (hence my dad’s concern). I can’t say that I was my usual perky self. I knew God was good, even though I wasn’t necessarily seeing or feeling a lot of that goodness at that moment. Still, I was dragging myself through my errands.
My final stop for the evening was Walmart for the last of my groceries and sundries. I had finished my shopping and was headed to my van when I heard someone call my name. I looked over my shoulder to see a young girl from our children’s ministry waving from a nearby truck. Soon I was surrounded by a family that doesn’t make it to church as often as they’d like. After hugs all around I chatted with the single parent of these adorable children for a few minutes. In the course of the conversation I mentioned that all of the kids like to sit with The Furry Guy and, I, of course, am married to him. That parent looked at me and said, “Nothing against Chris, but I said, ‘There’s Rae,’ and my kids were fighting to get out of their seatbelts and run over to you. It’s not just him.”
We said our goodbyes. I pushed my cart to my van. And, I stood there by my van and cried. Here, at the end of a very long, trying day, God had given me a hug through this family. Yes, I knew those kids loved me just as much as they do The Furry Guy. But, right then, I needed to hear that.
Sometimes it’s not easy to see the good that God’s doing around me. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the trials and frustrations. But, I know that, no matter what, God is good.