“We are not guaranteed our next breath.” Our pastor was fond of reminding his flock of that and I am so glad he did, because when life gets unbearable in many ways, I try to remember to thank God that I am still here, breathing. The alternative is the hoped-for eternity spent in adoration, in the Holy Presence. I will be glad, as I have said before, to be in the nose-bleed section. I don’t require up-close-and-personal seats next to the Throne of God. I do not feel worthy for the good seats! I will be thankful to just be in the Beatific Presence of God…regardless of proximity!
I often find myself, in my mind’s eye, face down, prostrate on the floor, in deep supplication before God. I seek not riches, not glory, not fame….I seek to live the life He gave me, to its fullest potential. I seek to be the daughter that God our Father wants me to be. Quite often I feel He has far more confidence in my ability to withstand the slings and arrows of life and He allows much more than I feel I can handle all at once, to repeatedly strike me. In those moments, I remember that I am breathing. I ask for the strength to continue on and to have the right attitude about things. There are so many examples of Holy Suffering for us in the history of our faith that I could refer to. So many people who have far outdone my pitiful sufferings, through their giving of their very lives to remain faithful. Nothing as dire as that here! We often hear the term said something like, “Oh, that poor person, suffering a dry martyrdom.” In a commentary on the Gospel of Luke at http://www.rc.net, there was this quote:
“God may call some of us to be martyrs, but for most of us our call is to be dry martyrs who bear testimony to the joy of the gospel in the midst of daily challenges, contradictions, temptations and adversities which come our way as we follow the Lord. What attracts others to the gospel? When they see Christians loving their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries, and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear our adversaries. He will give us sufficient grace, strength, and wisdom to face any trial and to answer any challenge to our faith. Are you eager to witness to the joy and freedom of the gospel? ‘Lord, by your cross you have redeemed the world. Fill me with joy and confidence and make me a bold witness of your saving truth that others may know the joy and freedom of the gospel.'”
That is the sort of attitude I try and maintain, but frankly, it gets rough to do some days. There are those who have no faith life, or understanding of faith, and their outlook can be pretty negative. They love, they want to help, but they are helpless with nothing in their lives to stand upon; no foundation in God to rely upon themselves. And when those sorts suffer, it can create a miasma of negativity you find yourself being swept into. Having our own, separate, personal issues, as we all do, makes it difficult to maintain a Christian perspective on everything going on around you, as the tide of negativity grabs ahold of you. And so, I take a deep breath, and I thank God for it.
We have all heard maxims like, “Carpe Diem” or “Seize the Day,” or “Take it one day at a time.” They are all telling us what Christ has been saying, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:25-34) Every once in awhile, we need to be reminded that God is control of this, that through my faith in Him, I am completely taken care of. Some days it is harder than others to remember this gift from God. Through my faith in the Ruler of the Universe, I am cared for. Pretty amazing that a little peon like me would be taken care of; that although through my own free will and choices I freely make, things come to pass that I had not expected or planned, God has “my back.” “God’s got this,” as Mark Hart the Bible Geek likes to say. Today, I say, “Thanks be to God.”
And today is one of those days when I find myself sighing a lot; sitting in contemplation most of the time. My son was surprised by his older brother and his family and taken to the zoo today; my husband is off working for the day; I am alone at home. It is nice to be able to be quiet. Although our dogs and cat are not happy with me being the sole person at home – there’s less entertainment when there are no children in the house! This gives me time to reflect on the many gifts God has bestowed on me and mine. I find myself weeping as I watch a video of my baby granddaughter, riding in her swing, sucking on her Binky, and being a contented little girl. It gives me comfort to see her and it settles my heart, because it is one of the most amazing gifts I have been given – my children and my grandchildren. I am so blessed to see our family expand, one life at a time.
The blessings we have are the bumper pads in the crib of life. We struggle sometimes, but we have soft sides to bump into when life gets rough. My grandchildren are parts of me that will live on, will continue on into the future that is blocked from me. And it gives me such joy to know that they are here. The rough roads we are now traveling will make the victory that much sweeter; that much more fulfilling.
I thank God for all of it – the good, the bad, and the ugly. These things in life are the fabric of life. Tapestries are wonderful…on the front side. Ever see all the tangled and knotted strings on the back of them? Only God truly sees all our knots and tangles as we present smiling faces to the world; as we give all we have when we are the ones who really need to be cared for. But in all of this, and all of that, I cling to my faith and I smile. God isn’t done with me, yet, and perfection takes an eternity to reach. Thanks be to God for this breath…..