Kimberly needed help with homework. Kent disappeared because it was his time for piano practice. Katy was whining for supper. Supper was raw chicken, still on the counter. The phone rang but no one stopped to answer it. Doug popped in the door chirping, "Honey, I'm home!"
Moms everywhere live this scene daily. Doug was a bigger help than most men at those chaotic times. Later that night with the kids asleep, dishes done and the phone finally silent, we chatted. The subject turned serious, as I thought about trying to rear three children without him there.
"Doug, I was thinking today about what if one of us died."
His eyebrows went up. "You feeling OK?"
"I'm fine. But honestly and selfishly, my greater fear, more than death, is living without you. I'd rather God take ME FIRST than leave me here to raise these children without you. How do you feel? Don't try to be noble. How do you feel...honestly and selfishly?"
He hesitated, thinking, then sighed, "Well, honestly and selfishly...I think I'd rather Him take you first too."
Sometimes husband agreeing with wife is not exactly what you want. But I asked! Since then, we don't often discuss such honest, heart-wrenching, imaginary choices.
When Daddy died suddenly, unexpectedly, Mama said many times, "This isn't the way it was supposed to be. I told Elbert I didn't want to outlive him. God was supposed to take ME FIRST!"
Mama couldn't imagine living without Daddy, her essential half. But she did.
Wives generally will outlive their husbands. Now my odds may have changed a few years ago, when I was diagnosed with diabetes. So if you hear I died before Doug, you'll know we both got our 'druthers! Unless he's changed his mind, and I'm not asking.
When the kids would selfishly call out, "Me first!" over the chocolate cake, I'd discourage it. How? By letting the other kid slice two pieces, then allow the Me-First-Kid first choice. They learned to slice equal portions to the millimeter!
My younger self thought many things were essential to life. Perhaps my identity and security were tied up in some of those things and roles. Today, I travel lighter. With my identity in Christ alone, my essentials are eternal. Sounds simplistic. It is. In concept. Doing it is another matter...ongoing growth.
Now there are still some things I LIKE to travel with--like my own pillow. You should see those airport security guards when they open my carry-on to find my travel essentials--a pillow, canned collards and grits! My northern daughters have me bring their travel essentials because Southern delicacies are not readily available in Canada and Minneapolis!
In her last years, Mama's wheelchair was essential for travel. But this whole life is just a travel to the next. What's truly essential?
In this life we will have troubles, struggles. Guaranteed. Most are not of our choosing. Many are unexpected and difficult. Others we see coming and brace for the impact. Life happens.
God's in control, even when we're not. Leaving those choices in His hands is best. He knows me better than I know myself. You too. He's enabled me to live through things I never thought I could survive. That's because of grace. But He supplies it as we need it. Grace for the journey--essential.
"The Finger that points the way is attached to the Hand that will provide."
I used to worry about future fears, like outliving our money, or needing to go to an assisted living center. God's proven Himself over and over through life's curve balls. That process in me has done two things: freed me from worry and grown my faith.
"Fear and faith can not abide in the same tabernacle."
I'druther not have gone through tough times, but that's exactly where He met me. He shouts to us in our pain, if we listen. I learned to lean on those everlasting arms, sometimes at very sharp angles, no strength within me to stand alone. Coming to the end of the rope, I let go and God caught me.
He will for you too, no matter what life brings. Or even death.
"Nothing can separate us from the love of God." HE is life's One Essential!
Mama never chose to be a widow. Mama never chose a stroke. Mama never wanted to be in a wheelchair. But look what she left behind!
She has all she needs, loves and wants...for eternity! So can you!
"Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (earthly essentials) will be added unto you." God says, "Me first." It's HIS rightful place.
"You're all I want in heaven! You're all I want on earth! When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, God is rock-firm and faithful...I'm in the very presence of God--oh how refreshing it is! I've made God my home. God, I'm telling the world what you do!" (Psalm 73:25, 26, 28 The Message)
Eternally yours because I'm eternally His,