You go nowhere by accident.
Wherever you go,
God is sending you.
Wherever you are,
God has put you there.
God has a purpose
in your being there.
Christ lives in you
and has something
he wants to do
through you where you are.
Believe this and go in the
grace and love and
power of Jesus Christ.
— Rev. Richard Halverson
I walk around the house outside in our yard almost daily, partly to get at least twenty minutes of morning sunshine, and partly, really mostly, to remember to be grateful for my life that I have taken for granted too many times.
I have an imaginary dog that walks with me. We lost our last real dog a year ago and many things have kept us from getting another one. There are some practical reasons, but mostly lingering grief, I think. But my imaginary dog doesn’t get sick, doesn’t run away from home, takes care of herself when we go away on vacation, and is always there when we get back. I never have that achy feeling of loss like I do when I lose something or someone dear to me. I never have to go through that period of mourning and grieving that seems painfully endless, deep down in my gut, knotted and hard as a rock. I never question God’s judgment about I.D. (imaginary dog)—because I am in total control. I never have to question my own judgment—because I am in total control. I never have to question my own selfish desires because I.D. is always there for me and who the heck cares about anybody else?
The problem is—she’s imaginary. She doesn’t lick my face, or cuddle me with warm fur. She doesn’t really do anything to make me feel alive and warm and loved because she can’t do any of those things. She is not a “half glass full” kind of dog, more like a “glass half empty.” So how do I deal with mourning something or someone lost on the one hand and begging God to give it back, or at least an acceptable substitute, on the other? Where do I go? I can’t have the something or the someone I have lost back.
I remember back in 1990 when our oldest son was accepted to the United States Air Force Academy. Right then I knew I was going to experience grief and loss—the thing the academy told us right off the bat—“say good-bye to your son when you leave him here, he will be ours now, and never quite yours again.” I believed them. And I spent almost a year ahead grieving in anticipation. By the time we left him there I had cried all the tears, waded through the self-pity, accepted who he was and who he would be with resignation, but also with pride. I had been prepared.
There are other kinds of losses that are less forgiving in preparation time however. We all sooner or later wonder, I think, if God has a master script that we never get to turn to the last page and read the ending first. We think that Rev. Richard Halverson’s famous benediction smacks of a kind of predestination. “You go nowhere by accident, Wherever you go, God is sending you. Wherever you are, God has put you there.” What it means to me is what Wendy Bailey wrote in her September 30, 2013 blog:
I am saying…that God is so much a part of us that he is present even in the worst of times and the ugliest of places. Even in those times and in those places, we are guided and shielded and blessed by the hand of goodness. God can take the worst of conditions and still work in us in such a way that we can be a blessing to others. Christ, who lives in us, wants to do something through us where we are. God is more like the potter with the clay. If things don’t turn out exactly the way it was imagined, then the potter uses the apparent imperfection or flaw to create something new, dramatic, functional and beautiful.
I have to give up I.D. I will walk with God now. He is real. Christ indwells me. His goodness will see me through loss even in the worst of times. And by His grace I will become something wonderful and new.
Central United Methodist Church