“Looks like your last write-up made a few waves,” God pried from across the way. I tapped at my computer.
“It wasn’t meant to be offensive,” I said keeping my glance in check with the computer screen. “Just a hard-nosed bit of catechizing. And besides, it by no means applies to a majority of anyone I know personally. So far most have simply been offering to pray. I sure hope you’re listening.”
“I am,” He said. “And I’ve acted on each petition.”
“Yep. Yours, too.”
“Yeah, whatever.” I kept to the keyboard and screen.
“Anyway,” He continued, “my comment wasn’t to say the piece was bad. It’s just that you’re going to find that most people, while they may have so-called good intentions…” There was an uncomfortable pause before He kept on, “even those good intentions are corrupted by sin. I’m guessing that as time rolls on, you’ll find yourself less irritated and more entertained by some of the things people do and say. Funny how it all plays out sometimes.”
“Yeah, funny,” I said. I could tell He was including me in His observation.
“So,” He sighed and moved beside me, “how are things going lately?”
“We’re really struggling to get her blood sugar regulated,” I answered. “If we could just do that, things would be a little less traumatizing for everyone involved.”
“I know the doctors told you about the honeymoon phase of this disease, right?”
“Yeah. Her pancreas isn’t completely dead,” I said, “so it spits out a little bit of insulin every now and then. The last gasp of a desperate and dying organ, I guess. Essentially, we’re doing math in the dark.”
“Yeah, it sure is.”
“Why does this bother you?”
I stopped typing. The question was so simple, and yet I needed to think through my response very carefully. His questions, no matter how stupid they may at first appear, always go places.
“At home or here in the office,” I started, “I’m living life at what feels like fifteen minutes at a time. Everything is out of my grasp. Everything is shackled to this disease. I’m putting meetings off. I’m spending less time crafting my sermons as I’d prefer. I can’t think through for any long periods of time on anything. I can’t travel more than an hour away from the church to visit shut-ins or to make hospital calls—and everything is more than an hour round trip around here. I can’t do any of this stuff. I need to be here for her. I need to be close. It’s as if everything’s been put on hold.”
“Sort of a… well… a forced recalibration, wouldn’t you say?”
“Yes. Forced. That’s an accurate descriptor.”
“Good,” He said and smiled.
“What do you mean ‘good’?” I asked with obvious irritation.
“Your work week is easily 90 hours on average right now, wouldn’t you say?”
“Yeah,” I said. “It comes with this place. You know that. And you also know that there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“That’s right. So, in part, maybe I’m doing something about it.”
I sat up a little straighter than before. “So, my daughter’s Diabetes is my fault?” I challenged with a rage very much beginning to bloom. “This whole thing is a result of my dedication to my call as pastor?”
“I didn’t say that,” He gave back. “But certain things are happening because of it—things that may just be for your good—for the good of your family.”
I was speechless. My mouth watered with a turning stomach.
“You need to keep in mind, Chris,” God said and leaned in a bit, “that you didn’t marry the church. You married Jennifer. You didn’t father this parish, my friend. I did. It depends on Me, not you. I set you here because I love my people and I love you. And born of that same love, I’ve given you the gift of children—which is something I don’t necessarily grant to everyone. But either way, with that gift comes a natural dependency—husband and wife, parent and child—and it works very well in my design.”
I was beginning to fume again. “You do realize how guilty I already feel when I can’t get to everything in a single week, right?”
“Yes, I do,” He said without hesitation. “And I like that you continually talk to me about that guilt. I love to work peace in you by the Gospel. I love to wrap my arms around you and tell you of the forgiveness of sins My Son, Jesus, won for you by His death and resurrection.”
God leaned back to what looked like a more comfortable position. “Just be opened to thinking about it, Chris. Your family needs you more than you are willing to afford sometimes. They need you more than you are giving them, and now, every waking moment has been forcefully reassigned. Savor it. Contemplate your daughter’s life and how much you love her. Let the exercise translate into the lives of the other three—into Jen’s life. Give them more of your time. I can handle this place well enough without you. It doesn’t rise or fall on your back.”
I sat and listened. The anger was still there, but I could feel the drawing ease in God’s voice.
“If you’re looking to discover a little bit of good from this mess, maybe let this be the first of the many beams of my love that I intend to let shine through.”
I kept silent.
“I can see you’re thinking about it,” God said. “Good. I’ll leave you to your thoughts, because, well, I can also see that My Holy Spirit is chiseling away at them right now, anyway.”
I looked at my watch. It was time to check Evelyn’s blood sugar, again. At that moment, I was drawn into an ethereal love of seeing her so much during the regular school day, suddenly mindful of how I love the feel of her little arms wrapped as far as they can reach around my neck or chest when she hugs me—even after an angry finger poke and an 8 mm needle injection. We both despise those little beasts, but we’re in it together—depending on one another—and for that we’re both glad.