I remember the crowded coffee shop and the shoulder to shoulder line up. I remember seeing her and an army of history marched through my head. She was the black sheep in her family, but even black sheep deserve to fall in love. She did and they were great together but a few weeks before her wedding her husband had an accident at work involving industrial chemicals. She knew something was wrong but went ahead with hope and ended up marrying a stranger.
My eyes scanned the bobbing heads and animated faces who were already sitting down enjoying their morning java, when I saw him, my Father. Even after all we’d been through my heart skipped a beat, it was the ever-present hope for change. I kept hoping one day I might see who really lives behind those blue eyes. One day I might see laugh lines. One day I might see a child’s faith commitment reborn, I might see a life surrendered to God.
I watched the megaphone bumble across the floor to his table. Her voice was louder than the forty some other conversations going on. Then I felt him, God’s presence, The Holy Spirit stood right in front of me, leaned in and pressed his finger on the ear of my heart. I listened and I knew more than coffee was brewing that day. Trouble was just around the corner.
I got my coffee to go but walked over to my Dad’s table before leaving. I waited for the perfect moment then leaned in and gave him a left arm hug. He smiled and I left praying that God would give me the place and time and courage to give him the message I had just received, even if parents don’t like to get advice from their children.
Not long after, we did have that chat and I told him what I heard God tell me in the coffee shop. Dad was no stranger to that kind of talk, because his Mother, my Grandmother, breathed that talk all the time. She wasn’t perfect, I’m certainly not perfect, but if God gives you a message, you need to give it.
My Dad and Mom were separated, it was his idea, but something he kicked himself for every waking moment. Actually, he probably fought those demons in his sleep too. They loved each other but couldn’t live together at least not without a whole lot of divine intervention. Here’s the thing, divine intervention doesn’t happen unless you ask for it, and pride doesn’t ask. And even then, both parties have to want the same thing. To make matters worse, sometimes a life time isn’t long enough for a person to heal. Sometimes you live apart and love from a distance.
The gal in the coffee shop had been separated for quite some time and by God’s good warning I could sense she was thinking my Dad could be her prince charming, a second chance at a future. When my Dad finally heard what I was trying to tell him, he laughed. “As if someone like her would be interested in an “old fart” like me” he chuckled.
One week later, the spiritual battle ended, just like that. Not even a fist fight. She moved in, in more ways than one, and any chance our father (or her for that matter), had at surrendering life over to God’s plan, was obliterated. The hope of putting God first for just once, the hope for a personal transforming relationship with God – was substituted again for temporary infatuation.
If God is warning you about something today, take it seriously. It is so easy to live in the “now”. He wants us to live with an eternal perspective. This life is over in a blink! What might look promising today, could break your heart tomorrow. What might look like a warm blanket for you, might be the loneliest move you make.
In loving memory of even the painful lessons, because with God’s help we can learn from the pain.