For the last three and one-half months I have been the topic of conversation, in and out of my own house. Friends and relatives would come to the house and wonder about the state of my health. There was always a sincere expression of gratitude to God for my rapid recovery. There were always the hugs and kisses that show strong caring. I would go to Church, at first in a wheel chair and then, slowly, with a walker and finally on wobbly legs of my own. People I know only by sight would embrace me and thank God for me because they were so happy to see that their prayers were being answered. I'm glad that this behavior has seen it's day and doesn't present itself very much any more.
When you are a person like me, constant graciousness and amiability showered upon you is rather disconcerting. I am not a person who breaks even in the human relationships field. I am quite sure that at least 65 to 70 percent of the people who encounter me decide rather quickly that they don't like me. I am not disturbed by this. In fact I rather enjoy being in a position to help people to understand that if 50 percent of those who encounter them like them, they should thank God on bended knee morning, noon and night. Let this serve as a rather circumlocutive introduction to the reflection that I want to put before you. I want to walk you through an encounter with God that has to do with the phenomenon of interpersonal relationships and how He uses them to teach us about Himself.
Today, (the date is not important, but the fact that this happened today is) I found out that a person who has been in my life for only about seven months is on her way to her eternal abode. She is an old lady (but younger than I) whom I transported in a medical transfer van for about three months. This was a three times per week event. I would pick her up at her home and drive her five miles to the dialysis treatment center and four hours later, pick her up again and drive her home. She is not a very communicative person, but somehow, and I don't know how nor why, she and I "clicked". I liked her and she liked me. I told her my name before the first outbound trip and before the inbound return. I did this for at least three days; yes, six trips. So, before the seventh trip, I did not tell her my name. She asked me, "What's your name?" I told her. Before the eighth trip, she asked me again, and again I told her. It was a game. I could not tell whether she was actually forgetting or actually playing a game. Finally, on the first morning of the the third week, just before the thirteenth trip, she asked me my name and I responded sweetly, "Grandma, everyone calls me 'Hey You', so that's my name." She let a hearty chuckle escape her frail frame and kept saying, "Hey You" during the entire trip. She was trying to get the accent right. She didn't want others who might hear her to think that she didn't know English. When I picked her up on the return, she remembered to call me "Hey You" with a broad smile. She never forgot. It was the only English that she knew, and she savored it.
Tell me that God didn't know what He was doing in that relationship.
Grandma is only half the story, and the second half at that. The hot core of the story is the relationship between me and her daughter. Her daughter and I encountered one another over six years ago. It didn't take long before we decided that the best we could do is to maintain a coolly professional relationship in front of people and refrain from being alone with one another the rest of the time. It worked rather well. We actually succeded in being civil to one another and occasionally had snippets of warm, christian conversation. So, six years into accepting the fact that we shared the same limited space on the planet, I came to find out that she was caring for her mother at home and driving her to dialysis treatments three times per week. I haven't told you yet, but, she also has a full time job and two nearly grown children at home. There is no husband on the scene. I find myself saying to God, "Now aren't you the sly one!" He knows that I can't be cold to a child who devotes so much intense time and effort to caring for a parent. So, not long after I became aware of the situation, she and I had a longer, warmer christian conversation. Sometimes God is just so obvious about His intrusion into our lives.
Then, shortly after our conversation, Daughter contacted the transportation company for which I was working and contracted the company to transport Grandma. And of course, you know who God assigned to the job, hhhmmmm?
Four months ago I was struck by a severe, if non-fatal illness. I had to quit driving. Grandma and I haven't seen one another since. Daughter and I do get to see one another now and again and she always tells me that her mother wants to know if "Hey You" is OK.
But wait,wait! Today, as I said earlier, God really got obvious. He let me find out that Grandma was taken to the hospital and that the family had decided not to prolong the home stretch agony. Now whom do you think I am feeling for? Those of you who read me know the answer. Daughter, of course. All day long I have been telling God, "You sure know how to shake a guy. You know that Daughter and I are not particularly close. Why are You wringing my heart out this way? I know that Grandma is going to take you by the hand shortly, and that's fine. Now, Lord, you have to teach me how to really love Daughter. I know You want me to. My heart and soul have been shivering all day. I'll do it because You are showing me the state of Your Heart in all of this. I like the feeling. I like knowing that You trust me to convert to Love from disgust and indifference. I like Your giving me the strength and courage to respond to Your lightning bolt of Grace. May I ask that while You are holding Grandma's hand You hold mine too for my sake and Daughter's sake? That way we will both know where the consolations are coming from.
Now, Lord, there's one thing that I wonder about in this whole marvelous mystery though. Now that we are nice and warm to one another, what are you going to do to keep Daughter from crying at my funeral?