Last February, knowing it would probably be the last time he would see his dad, Brad asked me to go with him on his final visit to the hospice in Minnesota. The trip was only possible because my mom had flown in from Massachusetts to help with the kids. The plan was that Brad and I would travel to Minneapolis on Saturday and be back in Nebraska again before school on Monday morning.
I wrestled with whether to go or not. I knew what the right decision was. I knew what I should do, what I needed to do. I felt the answer as clear as any I’d ever felt in my heart.
But I didn’t go.
I stayed home with my mom and the kids while Brad traveled to Minnesota alone. It was the last time he saw his dad. Jon died four days later.
I told my mom, Brad, my friends and anyone who would listen that I didn’t go to Minnesota because of the boys. They were acting out more than usual, I explained. They were clearly anxious and grieving their grandfather’s terminal illness and impending death. I needed to stay home with them, I reasoned. Two grieving, unruly boys were too much for my mom to handle alone.
This was all true. The boys were suffering; their behavior was more volatile than usual. But that wasn’t the real reason I didn’t go to Minnesota.
I didn’t go because I was afraid.
Afraid to face death, again, just 15 months after losing Brad’s mom. Afraid to face my father-in-law, with his ravaged, emaciated body. Afraid to say goodbye, to say thank you. Afraid to witness my husband’s raw grief. Afraid I wouldn’t know how to comfort him.
I didn’t go with my husband to Minnesota to be with him when he said goodbye to his father because I was afraid. I didn’t get to tell Jon how much I loved him in person because I was afraid.
And that is, hands-down, my biggest regret thus far in life.
When Pastor Michael preached on the theme of obedience yesterday after we read Psalm 132, this story, a story of disobedience, is the one that sprang almost instantly to my mind.
You see, I knew without any doubt what the Holy Spirit was prompting me to do that weekend. I felt the answer in my heart. I knew it in my innermost depths. And yet I disobeyed because I felt the calling was too hard, too ugly., too terrifying. I was weak. I faltered in my faith. I doubted that God would see me through.
“Obedience is a gift, a gift of faith,” said Pastor Michael during yesterday’s sermon.
Back in February I let fear instead of faith prevail. Instead of trusting God, I fled. Instead of obeying the Holy Spirit and surrendering to the will of God, I relied only on myself. I thought I would have to face fear and death alone. I forgot God was with me. I turned away from the gift when it was offered to me.
In the end, my disobedience was a grave disappointment. I know that Jon didn’t hold my decision against me, nor does Brad. But I still struggle to let it go. Now that time has passed I’m able to see more clearly how God would have held me by the hand, in spite of my fear and hesitation. In spite of my weakness.
God would have led me through that terribly difficult visit. If only I’d had the faith to obey.
"When you are disobedient, you are trying to keep some part of your life under your own control. Somewhere in your heart you are refusing to listen to his call." -- Deitrich Bonhoeffer
What about you? Have you ever learned a hard lesson about obedience and faith?
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