I looked everywhere for that silly spatula last night.
I’d been gone for a week so I wasn’t surprised that the forks were in the knife slot and the spoons were in the fork slots. He could’ve hung them from the ceiling fan…I was just glad that I hadn’t come home to a week’s worth of dirty dishes!
So I assumed he just put it in the wrong drawer.
I looked everywhere!! Sink, utensil drawer, tupperware drawer, pot holder drawer….I even looked in the drawer where I keep the mandolin slicer (we don’t even OPEN that drawer anymore after it nearly took his finger off)…not there either!
I was frustrated. I used another spatula and flipped the bacon. Grease went everywhere. This was NOT a bacon-flipping spatula! My husband took over with yet another spatula. But they weren’t what I was looking for.
I started over again. This time I broadened my search. Laundry room, dining room, cabinets, drawers…he must have accidentally thrown it away, I decided.
In a fit of desperation (I really do love that spatula), I opened up the utensil drawer once more and pulled out the three trays nestled inside. In the back, behind where the tray sat and pushed into the wood backing, was my spatula.
I told my friend the story later that evening. “It was in the last place you looked, wasn’t it?” she laughed.
I’ve heard that expression my whole life but I don’t think I ever fully got the joke before! Of course you find stuff in the last place you look because you stop looking after that!
That’s how it is with Jesus.
We spend our whole lives looking to fill that emptiness. Money, relationships, prestige… We fill that hole with anything and everything. They work for a little bit but then we start searching again.
Once we find Jesus, though, we stop looking.
Because in Him, we find what we were looking for all along.
We buried a dear friend whose love for life far outweighed most. No matter the obstacle, he’d face it with a smile and a determination to keep praising his Creator.
It wasn’t always easy. He’d faced some health issues over the years, even losing a leg and a couple of fingers in the process. But he was a jokester; he’d say they could chop off his parts one by one and his wife could tote him like a suitcase. He would laugh but yet he was serious.
He didn’t care. NOTHING was going to stop him from living life, loving people, and sharing Jesus. That’s just who he was.
Even though he’d faced these health issues, he’d been doing well so his death, mere minutes after arriving home from a 4th of July celebration with his grandkids, was completely unexpected. And devastating to those who loved him.
I know the consolations. He’s in a better place. He isn’t suffering. He’s with the Lord.
I know the verses. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15
But, while true, they do little to comfort you when grief is so overwhelming it threatens to swallow you whole.
I stood helpless yesterday as I watched my husband struggle to officiate the funeral. Don was one of the best friends he’d ever had and he was grieving too. Watching his wife was just as hard. They’d been married for 31 years, since she was 18 years old. I felt guilty that I was able to leave the service with my husband.
Last night, as I have in the middle of every night since we got the call five days ago, I woke up, grief still at the forefront of my mind. Why, Lord? Why now? I laid in the silence feeling the pain of loss as tears filled my eyes.
In the still of the night, I heard a line from an old country song ….Don’t cry for me down here.…
I knew the song well. When I Get Where I’m Going by Brad Paisley
Don and I both loved country music. We bonded over our love of music. We’d share behind-the-story tales of each song. He knew the info you’d find in a songwriting journal; I knew the info you’d find in US Weekly. We made a crazy pair!
I could just hear him singing those lyrics, trying to console me.
“When I Get Where I’m Going”
When I get where I’m going On the far side of the sky The first thing that I’m gonna do Is spread my wings and fly
I’m gonna land beside a lion And run my fingers through his mane Or I might find out what it’s like To ride a drop of rain
Yeah when I get where I’m going There’ll be only happy tears I will shed the sins and struggles I have carried all these years And I’ll leave my heart wide open I will love and have no fear Yeah when I get where I’m going Don’t cry for me down here
I’m gonna walk with my grand daddy And he’ll match me step for step And I’ll tell him how I missed him Every minute since he left Then I’ll hug his neck
So much pain and so much darkness In this world we stumble through All these questions I can’t answer So much work to do
But when I get where I’m going And I see my maker’s face I’ll stand forever in the light Of his amazing grace Yeah when I get where I’m going There’ll be only happy tears Hallelujah I will love and have no fear When I get where I’m going Yeah when I get where I’m going
It was as if he’d written the song himself…and he wanted me to find comfort in it. I could just see him excitedly getting the answers to every obscure question he’d ever had while dancing around and yes, absolutely running his ten fingers through a lion’s mane…
This is exactly the song he’d want ANYONE to hear if they were grieving over him…. because that’s just who my friend was…
When I first joined my husband in full-time ministry, I was certain I was heeding a call. And with that certainty came a faith that made no obstacles seem insurmountable.
Of course, that kind of faith is a little easier when there are no actual obstacles.
After the first couple of months, doubts set in. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I need to go back to teaching. (Fill in the blank there, you always want to go back to the familiar.)
I called a good friend in ministry and questioned my next steps. Do I go back to teaching? Do I keep waiting? Our savings is almost wiped out. I was the widow woman with enough left for just one meal.
Do you believe that you are doing what God called you to do? she asked. Absolutely, I replied. I’d never been more certain of anything in my life. But I also knew He could perform miracles and I guess I expected a money tree to sprout up next to the crepe myrtle.
Her reply changed my soul. I can’t tell you what to do but I can tell you two things: Where God leads, He feeds. And where He guides, He provides.
I tucked those promises away deep in my heart and watched amazed as He did just that. We would balance the checkbook with $3 left and a $500 check would arrive unexpectedly. We would eat the last of the sandwich meat and someone would bring a truckload of groceries. They were lean times but there was a lesson. He wanted me to learn to LEAN on Him.
Eventually, He provided in a way that allowed for us to bless others. But every now and then, I start seeing things with carnal eyes instead of remembering my eyes of faith. Like in the midst of a pandemic when everyone’s income, including our own, dropped. Churches aren’t receiving stimulus checks…they aren’t filing for loans. They are just having to trust God. I sometimes forget that part when I’m looking at the bottom line.
The problem there is, JESUS is the bottom line! He knew our needs. And once again, just as we needed it, He provided.
WHY do I ever doubt?
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19