When you love people and you genuinely love being able to serve them, there is never a moment when you step completely away from that. Yesterday was a case in point.
Frank and I were home, taking some time to relax. And the day was moving at a pretty slow pace. Just as I was getting ready to put together a leisurely lunch, the phone rang and it was Amanda (our young adults pastor and "adopted" daughter).
She had gotten the call from her mom that she had been dreading. Her grandmother, who has been battling cancer, was unresponsive; the family had already booked a flight to Phoenix for Amanda and we had one hour to help her get ready to go.
Amanda's relationship with her grandmother has been similar to that shared by Elijah and Elisha from the Old Testament. Grandma Ora has been somewhat of a miracle worker in their home town of Maran, AZ. In fact, if you were to Google her name, you would discover that she is identified as: former mayor, historian, and philanthropist. And it is quite apparent that the "mantle" of greatness will fall on Amanda; these two have shared a special bond throughout Amanda's life.
We all jumped into action trying to help Amanda make her flight.
She was swinging by the house to pick me up (there was never any question as to who would drive her to the airport) so I grabbed a quick shower and threw on jeans and a t-shirt. Frank took over preparations for our dinner with the Schreck Family. Kristin left work to meet us at her apartment and help pack. Multiple scenarios had to be thought through, clothes chosen, thrown in a suitcase. Oh, make sure that thing doesn't go over the allowable weight!
A quick stop at the church office to gather Bible, journal, and one book; print the ticket.
Sorrow pressed the edges of our hearts and threatened at every moment to come rushing out with a flood of emotion. But we had to push back because giving in at that point would have been disastrous; we would never have made the flight in time.
Adrenaline was still pumping as Amanda and I jumped into the car, slammed the doors and started checking off the necessary items. Our voices were low and very controlled as we rehearsed: "Driver's license; e-ticket; wallet; Bible; suitcase; purse. Let's go!" Her beautiful green eyes were wide, searching for reassurance that everything would somehow be okay.
Of course, tropical depression Bonnie had made landfall in Miami a few hours earlier. So the outer rain bands were just reaching us as we hit I-4 for the drive to Orlando. High winds, pouring rain, traffic clogged by fender-benders. Sigh. Nothing to do but just press on as cautiously (and quickly) as possible.
We made it safely to the airport in time and tipped the sky-cap for helping get the suitcase checked. (Fortunately for us, the scale at curbside wasn't functioning properly. The lady grunted as she lifted Amanda's suitcase to guess at the weight. I had explained the situation. "Aww, it's close" she said. And hefted the bag onto the belt.)
We only had time for a quick, fervent prayer and a tight hug full of unspoken thoughts. Tears were beginning to spill over as she took a deep breath and headed for the terminal. I waited until she got inside; then eased into the traffic and gave way to my own rush of tears. (Not the safest thing but surely you knew they were coming.)
I drove home in relative quiet. There was a CD playing hymns revised for those under thirty. I drank deeply from the truth of the lyrics - even though the arrangements weren't really conducive for a "sing-a-long". Smile.
And I talked to Jesus. Honestly. Respectfully. Pausing to listen for what He would say in return. His message? "I love you unconditionally and my grace is sufficient. Always. And in all ways."
I realized that I was also reliving the mad dash I made to north FL when I received a similar call about my own mom suddenly dropping into an unresponsive state. So much emotion.
Times like this seem to dig deep trenches in our hearts. But I believe those trenches eventually serve as conduits allowing His mercy and grace to rush like a mighty river into the lives of people around us. Those who are parched, afraid, lonely, hopeless.
It's true - God never wastes anything! Even difficulty.