On Friday morning I went for a walk and enjoyed some solitude and prayer before school. Thinking ahead to my day, a prayer of thanksgiving spontaneously filled my heart: “Lord, thank you so much for this work that so deeply fulfills my interests…” then I added, “… those interests that you also gave me in the first place and then nurtured all these years!”
I’ve been thinking a lot about how everything we receive in this life is a gift from God. Our homes, our food, our shelter, our families, our friends, our opportunities, our skills, our intelligence… none of it is something we can take credit for! It’s a gift from God. This realization brings incredible peace, gratitude, and a desire to use those gifts to God’s glory.
Recently Mateo played in a championship basketball game with his rec team. Their team had already won all their regular season games and first playoff game! As usual, he was nervous before the game so we said a prayer. I didn’t plan to say what came out of my mouth: “Lord, thank you for the wonderful team Teo has enjoyed this season. Thank you for his athletic gifts, which you’ve given him. Please help him to go out and use those gifts to play the game for your glory. We know that, win or lose, nothing that truly matters in life changes. Thank you for your son Jesus and his redeeming grace in our life. Amen.” Mateo went into the game feeling a lot less nervous.
On the topic of basketball, Teo was selected for the All Star team, with games this past Saturday. We’d been planning our annual “NCAA Date” which always falls on the first Saturday of the tournament. We (especially Teo!) were looking forward to heading downtown to watch games together and relive Dennis and my first “date”. Teo decided he didn’t want to play in the All Star league, so he opted out.
Dennis and I had eye doctor appointments on Saturday morning. We love our eye doctor (Dennis has been going to him for almost 30 years!) and usually make a special trip down to Hillcrest on a Saturday for our check-ups. Also, I’d just learned that a beloved member of our old church had passed away, just a couple months shy of her 102nd birthday! Grace Lutheran is just a couple blocks from our eye doctor, and her funeral was yesterday too.
So, Dennis and I spent the morning at the eye doctor and then attended a beautiful memorial service. With my recent eye health requiring extra retinal specialty care, we hadn’t seen our eye doctor for awhile. Turns out, he’s been going through some hard times and shared them with us. Our eye check-ups turned into something more precious and beautiful as we held space for our friend to share his pain. We didn’t know that God intended to use us to minister to someone he loves, but we felt honored to be there.
We didn’t know Lorna very well, but we’d been church family for nearly a decade. The kids and I participated in her “drive-by” 100th birthday celebration back in May, 2020. At her funeral, we contemplated her long life of devotion to God, sang the hymns she chose, including “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and saw sweet friends that we’ve missed from Grace. We experienced another layer of healing from our decision to switch churches with the wonderful realization that we could certainly visit more often and maintain the sweet relationships we have at Grace.
Yesterday felt like such a gift. We chose to do some things that people don’t typically choose to do: listen to someone share their pain and voluntarily go to a funeral. But, both of these things were immensely meaningful. We connected with people in moments that truly matter in life.
In some way, the deeper realization that God has given me everything I need creates a sense of responsibility to do what he calls me to do. My life is not my own. He’s the creator and I’m just one of billions of his creatures! Surrendering to this beautiful reality gives me peace to prioritize moments of service, connection, and love in a world that often tells us to do just the opposite.