How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. ~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie
A couple of weeks ago Lori and I came to the end of some vacation time in So. California. We were at our daughter’s home saying our “Goodbyes” and steeling ourselves for the drive back to Colorado. Pulling out of their driveway we wave, give the traditional 3 quick honks of the horn, yell “Goodbye” and began to weep.
I allow my internal world to breach and a wave of emotions follow. I’m a bit caught off guard by the fervor of my tears. They were new, not the familiar tears from the historic taps of my soul/wounds. These were fresh as if from a newly uncovered spring.
We’re zipping up the interstate just south of Barstow and the “spring” now feels like the seepage of a dam beginning to crack.
Our emotions have been compared to the “idiot” light on a car’s dashboard. When it goes off it’s always good to check under the hood to determine what’s going on. To ignore it is to court with much bigger issues down the road.
Lori and I ask/invite God to help us interpret the tears and the energy behind them. And then, rather quickly, a question comes to me from God.
So much of my interaction with God comes in the form of questions. I ask a question, He answers with a question. It’s truly conversational. It’s a Socratic dialog with a sagely loving father who happens to be the Holy and Magnificent Triune Creator God of Angel Armies who sovereignly rules over all of Heaven and Earth. His questions always cause me to pause, ponder, reorient and eventually offer a response that then becomes the subject of a deeper discussion. The discussion may be a brief moment or unfold over weeks.
With the diagnosis of malignant melanoma* and my bout with mortality as the back story, I hear God ask,
“Craig, if you were to die sooner than you’d like/planned, am I sufficient for Lori? Do you trust that I, as her God, her Father and Lover would care for her, “be there” for her, protect and provide for her? Could I make her laugh and fill her with joy; bless her life and give her a rich full life all of her days?”
And in His next breath He asks, “How about your girls, your daughters and grandchildren? Am I enough for Lindsey, Meagan, Jacqueline and Annie? Do you trust that I, their Father, Friend, Lover and God would care for them; guide them; and fill their hearts and lives with joy? Would my “Being there” for holidays, anniversaries, family vacations, graduations and weddings bring them joy, love, hope, faith and life?” “Am I enough for those you love?”
(I’m not trying to be sappy, honest…for if I were I’d suggest you put on “Butterfly Kisses” as you read this).
My first reaction was to His question was … “What?”
I think I felt like the Rich Young Ruler may have, when he asks Christ, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life”, and Christ responds with, what seems to me, to be an odd question, “Why do you call me good?” Huh… what’s Christ’s question got to do with the rich guys question?
Something inside was responding, “Why of course You’re sufficient and enough… I’ve professed and taught that for years! What does that have to do with these tears?”
God will often use a question to redirect the issue we’re bringing to him to a more pivotal issue of the heart.
Now, let me say, I think each of us has a number of voids/needs/yearnings that if filled bring us life in a deeper richer more textured way. Each of us has a star shaped hole only a loving spouse can fill. A friend doesn’t fill it, a pet cannot and God will not. A round peg will not fit or fill it. If that hole/void/need/yearning remains unfilled we legitimately ache, serverely at times and we bear the scar or grief that emptiness in our soul brings.
There’s a round hole only a father fills, a diamond shaped hole a mother fills… and there’s a God shaped void no spouse, child, success,amount of money or religion can touch… We’ve got a bunch of holes, voids and yearnings, and it’s critical that they be filled. But they’re not all filled all the time.
The God-hole is the mondo-bolardo of holes/needs/voids we have as humans. Our yearning/need for intimacy with God is crucial and though we try to fill it with all kinds of stuff… it’s only the One True God peg that fits.
To know God is to have life whether or not the other holes are filled. When the God-hole is filled we have all we need to worship, follow, live loving lives and taste heaven here and now no matter what our circumstances or hardships are. God alone is sufficient. He is enough.
So, “Yes”, my “premature” death would have an impact upon those closest to me, to varying degrees they would ache, grieve, go “without” some pretty significant stuff for the rest of their lives.
And there is God whois sufficient, enough, plenty, all-they-need in some deep governing true way to live life fully, richly and meaningfully. He is they’re Father, Lord, Lover, Companion, Friend, Guide, Counselor, Comforter, Provider…
While I have believed all that I just said for decades the answer to God’s question, “Am I sufficient, am I enough for your wife and family?” that surfaced in a mile or two was actually, “No. I don’t think you’re sufficient to cover the gaping hole my death would bring.”
There was about five miles of stillness as my response soaked in… deeply. I don’t think God is enough. I’m not certain, when it comes down to the most important issues of my life, that I can trust Him!?#%&*?!
Whoa! That’s new, big, important, deep… surprising!
Another 6 miles of stillness/silence passed.
No wonder I’m crying as I leave my family! They’re facing an emotional, relational destitution without me! A sparse, cold, long winter. Without my strength, love, godliness and selfless presence the family tree, once so verdant and promising, will wilt like a cursed fig tree with future generations looking back and citing my early demise as the tragic end of the McConnell Spirit.
I began to connect a few dots.
If I do not trust God for my posterity, do I trust him with my life?
If He is not enough for them is He for me?
If He is not a good hearted strong Lover and Father for Lori, Lindsey, Meagan and the kids, is he for me?
Every core issue and all the behaviors and attitudes we hate most in our lives have some root in the idea that God isn’t good.
What was springing from my soul was a profound need to know God far more intimately than I currently do. My tears were the expression of the deepest longing of my heart… to know God so well that I find myself smiling about the future and the great, great love The Father will lavish upon me and the family that follows. – Craig
*see previous blog for more on the melanoma issue, which, God willing, has been resolved.