Friday, November 4, 2022

Sometimes It's No

 My mother died suddenly. I was halfway around the world, and by the time I got the news, it was all over but the mourning. My grandfather, on the other hand, lingered. They’d pronounced him dead when the ambulance came, and on his way to the morgue, he came back. He was in the hospital for a few days, the prognosis not looking stellar since his kidneys were giving out.

I never cried more than in those few days. I prayed, begged, pleaded, and was on my face before God every waking moment. I wasn’t broken; I was shattered. I tried to bargain, made promises, and even attempted the Christian version of let’s make a deal. I reminded God of my years of service and told him I’d pass on the sheet cake and gold watch. We’d be all square, thank you very much, if He just made my grandpa better.

I loved my grandpa. I was closer to him than my dad or my mom. He taught me to ride a bike, bait a hook, aim a slingshot, love God, and serve people. We’d spent the last ten years traveling together, and I didn’t want to lose him.

Much later, I realized it was the most selfish time of my life. My grandfather was in pain for most of his adult life. Due to the torture he endured as a younger man, he couldn’t make a fist to save his life, had lumps all over his torso, and could barely walk at times. He had frequent gout flare-ups that affected his knees and feet, and after my grandmother passed, the light in his eyes dimmed just a little. But he was the guy on the electric chair! Surely he would have rejoiced at his wife’s passing.

Just because we know we will be reunited one day does not take away the pain of separation altogether. It may decrease it somewhat, but when you’ve been married for decades, the sudden departure of the one you love leaves an emptiness.

As an aside, a free piece of unsolicited advice, don’t idolize men. In the end, they’re just men. Used of God as he was, my grandfather still hurt, felt loss, and wept, but through it all, his faith endured, and he carried out his duties before God despite it all.

He lingered, and I prayed and wept until my mother knocked on my door one afternoon and asked if I would go to a prayer meeting with her. I didn’t see the harm in it; two or three gathered together is better than one, at least as far as numbers are concerned, so we drove to a place she knew of from word of mouth some distance away.

No one knew us there. We didn’t introduce ourselves other than by the generic peace of God be upon you that Romanians favor, nor did we say what we were there for. If God was present, He already knew the details of the matter. There was a group of six or seven, and after reading a scripture passage, we all knelt to pray.

It was a long prayer for anyone except a Romanian prayer group. A good forty minutes passed, and my already bruised knees were starting to remind me I was not light as a feather after all. Someone spoke an amen, we all got up and sat wherever we could find a place. Then a frail elderly woman looked me in the eye and said, “whether he stays or goes, the choice will be up to him.”

She was as confused about the words she spoke as everyone else in the room. She was tasked with delivering a message. She delivered it, and her task was done. That’s what prophecy is. You don’t embellish, you don’t add to it, and you don’t offer your opinion. You deliver the message!

Even though no one else knew what the words meant, my mother and I looked at each other and knew. We left the prayer meeting and started planning my grandfather’s funeral.

It’s not that I didn’t have enough faith, or that I didn’t pray hard enough, or shed enough tears. I made my request known to God, He took it under advisement, and His answer came back no. It is within His purview to say no. Otherwise, He’d be no more than a magic genie we rubbed whenever we wanted something.

Our God is able to heal, to restore, and to deliver. He answers prayers, but sometimes His answer is no. Since He knows the end from the beginning, and all things work together for good to those who trust God, we rest in His providence and submit to His will.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

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