Dakota, our thirteen year golden retriever, is filled with absolute love for Meg and me; we often comment how we wish we could love the Lord with the same desire that he has for us. However, he is showing signs of his age. I worry about the loss his death will create in my life. So, as he and I were walking up our driveway in Tuesday’s afternoon sunlight, I prayed as I watched him moving ahead of me. I prayed that the Lord prepare me for his death, that I focus on thankfulness for life, not on the pain of grief. And I also asked the Lord’s forgiveness for the ways in which I had taken my own parents’ love for granted; not appreciated their many sacrifices for me.
I happened to look up when I finished praying. Above me, high in the sky, a hawk was flying–a relatively unusual event. As it circled, and rocked in an unusual way, sunlight shone intensely off its body and wings. I felt a moment of conscious unconscious, of being there but not there, and an overwhelming knowledge that the Lord is kind, good, and merciful. (Psalm 116:5) And, of course, whereas signs/miracles are wonderful, I am well aware that I must “live by believing and not by seeing.”
Certainly the world is not the world of a decade ago, nor even further back to the early days when Meg and I began to learn about ourselves, our similarities, strengths, weaknesses after our marriage on September 2, 1967. We really did not know God then; we believed he was “up there,” someplace, but we were strong on our own, not needing a relationship beyond what we were learning to share between us.
We have changed so much over the decades, physically and spiritually. The one constant, however, has been a deepening journey toward God, trying each day to apply and understand the love He has shown us through Jesus Christ. Cancer challenges, heart challenges all are part of the experience He has laid out for us. And the question for each of us always is, “how do we respond?”
Oswald Chambers said it so well in his reading from “My Utmost for His Highest” on August 31, and his statement applies to us as well as to this nation: “Living a full and overflowing life does not depend on bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God and in the same oneness and fellowship with Him that Jesus himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances.”