Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In 1961, the iconic sitcom The Andy Griffith Show aired “The Pickle Story” episode during season two. The classic storyline features Aunt Bea, who is the town’s top cook, preparing her pickle entry for the town fair competition just as she has done for 11 years. However, losing 11 years to best friend and inferior cook Clara is no deterrent as the plump pickler pushes her product on taste testers Andy, Barn, and Opie. Having stomached the “kerosene cucumbers” 11 years too many, the well-meaning threesome decide to replace Aunt Bea’s pickles with store-bought pickles. By doing so, they can eat the pickles with an honest response and spare Aunt Bea’s feelings. They eat and brag, brag and eat to boost Aunt Bea’s pickling pride. Of course, their plan backfires as Aunt Bea is encouraged and makes even more for them to eat. I share this because I feel a little suspicious that my writing is like Aunt Bea’s pickles. Having been a mediocre writer during my short career as a news reporter and in public relations, I have a hard time believing that my years of changing diapers and dumping cheerios out of car seats could have improved any skill that I might have had as much as you all have been so kind as to encourage. So, be careful what you ask for because you might get in a pickle.
Though I was eager and anxious to get back to Eli, I enjoyed my week at home with the other kids. My heart was distracted and torn wanting to be in two places at once, but I kind of had to suck it up and focus, reminding myself that my time with the other three was special, too. My three-year-old has just exploded with character and at his age is the best and worst of himself. I miss him and am both jealous of and thankful for all the new relationships he has developed with my friends as they help me at home. I realized early on that this “journey,” as many like to call it, was no stroll on the beach, but I had no concept, and still don’t actually, of the extreme nature of the terrain. It’s curvy, rocky, mountainous, slippery, and blinding. That doesn’t just make it hard to navigate, but hard to prepare to navigate. I am all about plans and preparedness, but when every day something changes, or is not as you were told it would be, it is stressful and, really, for a control freak like me, scary.
When we got the news late Thursday that the doctors had decided to give Eli a shunt on Friday, I was just sad, to say it plainly. All the support and prayers that had seemed to steer this life-changing event down a more positive path just felt wasted. With that news, the path seemed to lead away from where we had hoped it would go. I was admittedly weak, doubtful and beaten. With that state of mind, it is hard to maintain a sense of understanding and acceptance that our individual time on this earth is not for what we live. It’s with short-sightedness we squint to see where our path is going, and swing a blind fist as we walk. So, I wondered, if God’s will has created a chain of earthly events toward an end, can we change His mind?
And, I know that anyone reading this is far superior in your understanding and knowledge of spiritual and religious quandaries and questions, so forgive me, and correct me. The simple answer is to first accept that this earthly life is not the purpose of existence, and then God’s will is more palpable. But, I have a hard time believing that God created a bunch of “yes men,” in fact, by giving man free will, he absolutely did not create “yes men.”
In the Old Testament, God interacted with his creations and we get a pretty clear picture of that relationship. We know from Malachi that He says “I am Jehovah, I have not changed,” and in Hebrews it says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” So, it’s safe to assume that He will deal with us the same as he did with the Israelites. In Exodus 32:14, it plainly says “God relented” or changed His mind. He was about to wipe out the Israelites from existence. And, Moses, one man, talked Him out of it. That didn’t mean that God changed His will, which ultimately was Jesus, but changed His mind about something on earth that a righteous man cared enough about to approach the Almighty God on its behalf. He was compassionate, listened to Moses’ plea and changed His mind, not His will, but His mind – or decision or thought.
When I talked to Vic on Friday morning that the shunt was on hold again, I was both elated and ashamed. Tears of relief rolled slowly one by one as the news sunk in that the power of your prayers defeated evil once more. But, my stomach felt sick realizing that, during those hours when the path seemed to take a spiraling turn into the valley of death, I was struggling with accepting what might be part of God’s plan. I felt the guilt of a defiant child and was so thankful and humbled that you all held us up when I was weak. Having not the scope of God who sees all things past and future, we may never know His ultimate will for this event. But, being given the gift of prayer as an avenue for appeals, and being given the ability to want and need, I believe that God is willing to change His mind and show His power to fulfill His will still. Thank you for your persistent and confident prayers.

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