Straying from the weekly poem and offering something else to ponder on. I pray this finds you well and touches your heart so that you may experience just a taste of God’s Amazing Grace.
Yesterday I woke up at the typical time and immediately walked over to the thermostat to turn up the heat. It’s the normal routine, but was the beginning to a very enlightening day.
When I reached the thermostat it was evident the heat had been “off” for some time; Temperature in the house was below 60 degrees inside and about 10 degrees outside. While a knot formed in my gut, I thought a few choice things and started a silent conversation with God; Why? Why me? Why us? Why now? Haven’t we had enough yet? Please don’t let the furnace be dead too – weather forecast is; snow today, tomorrow, and a series of highs of 0 degrees or below. Our furnace hick-ups once and a while (an old farmhouse fuel-oil burning system) and needs to have the fuel pump motor reset. I pressed the “reset” switch and voilà, the pump kicked on, the flame started and I retreated back upstairs – thankful.
By the time I was back upstairs the furnace was quiet – my gut tightened. There was one last thing to check before calling the repair man. Slipped on my snow boots and winter coat over my pajamas and headed outside. Walked over to the fuel barrel and used the broom handle dip-stick to check the fuel level. Now I was the dipstick – fuel barrel was empty.
Mad at myself for ignoring the thought several days ago to check the fuel, I commenced my anger to the one who knew better, God. Why? If it wouldn’t have been so cold for so long this winter we would still have fuel. Why have you made this winter worse? Haven’t we had enough? How much more can we take?
Thankful the furnace was not “broken” because we really don’t have the money to repair it – due to; refrigerator quitting, having to replace my work truck, travel expenses due to the death of my father-in-law, all in the last two months, and the list rolls on. But in all honesty not much money to put toward fuel either, except this little stash I’ve been keeping for something special, a reward. The stash was started when I quit smoking – each time I was in the store and I would normally buy a pack or two of cigarettes, I would get cash and put it in an envelope and just collected the money. I had used some of the money for other emergency/worthwhile things and had a little left. Enough for a new rifle, or maybe a new tool box for the “new” truck. The stash would be enough to add to the amount already in the checking account to buy enough fuel to get through the last of winter.
It was still early in the morning, way too early to call the fuel man to deliver that life-saving liquid better known as #1 Diesel Fuel. So to get heat back, ASAP, I would go into town and buy about 20 gallons of fuel at the Shell gas station and get the furnace going again to start warming up this old farm house. This would take a couple trips, I only have 2 five-gallon cans. Oh yeah – this would also make me late for work. Just an “awesome” start to the day and a snowy, cold, weekend ahead.
Got dressed and started the truck to let it warm up and collected the cans to head into town. It was cold but, quiet and still. A few stars peeking through, but the sun was starting to rise. The air felt like snow but it was peaceful – a certain measure of grace just hung in the air – another quiet, peaceful, cold, yet still beautiful morning. Then a thought crossed my mind – “My grace, is sufficient for you.”
On the first return trip home with 10 gallons of diesel in the back of the truck I noticed a grouping as I crossed the river. Upstream about 75-100 yards stood a small herd of whitetail deer. Standing on the frozen river, in fresh snow, just doing what deer do. It looked like a picture from Currier and Ives. Morning light flickering off a small trickle of water at the edge, frost and snow clad trees framing this incredible view, only seen from the direction I was coming because of the bend in the river. “My grace, is sufficient for you.”
Once back at home I started dumping the fuel in the barrel and was still thankful fuel is all the furnace needed. When all was quiet, while I stood next to the fuel barrel I heard a familiar sound, but had to stop and listen to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. What I heard was the “chirp”, “chirp”, “chirp-chirp-chirp” of a lone robin. The first robin of spring! In the early dawn of this cold winter morning. All I could think while he was chirping was “man, are you in for a surprise”. Yet again couldn’t help thinking – “My grace, is sufficient for you.”
Tried the furnace again but still wouldn’t light. The lines would need to be bled to get all the air out of the fuel lines – not a difficult task, just a messy, smelly one. I decided to get another 10 gallons of fuel first, to make sure there was enough to fill all the piping and still be enough to keep heat going until more could be delivered – so back to town with empty fuel cans.
This time as I crossed the river the deer were already gone, back into the meandering grove along the river bank. I went to the station and filled up the cans and headed back home. The view had changed again, this time downstream. In a small patch of open river a flock of Canadian geese have taken up refuge – how they survive the subzero temperature and freezing water is beyond me, but that’s still not what caught my eye this trip. Up above, perched in the skeletal tree line, are four magnificent bald eagles. Just perched, resting, looking down at the geese and the water flowing between the massive ice. The sun was starting to get higher and was warming their backs as they seemed to sit and ponder all that lay before them. “My grace, is sufficient for you.”
Got back home, emptied the cans, bled the fuel lines and got the furnace started – Thank God we had heat again – by now the house was in the 50’s and my patient wife is standing in front of the electric oven to catch a little heat. She made me a bowl of hot oatmeal, helped me pack some lunch, and I was off to work. Thankful for her patience, her love, her beauty, and her perseverance; not just for this day but for our life together as a whole. “My grace, is sufficient for you.”
At work I was greeted by my superior and immediately reminded of the importance and dismay of the progress made on a particular project that we are currently working on. A project that slips farther and farther behind because of its own set of issues, which he understands and knows full well – but since he’s getting chastised from his superior, the natural flow is “downhill”. I get it, no sweat, just frustrating and on a morning like today – well it just fit too well.
Once I settled down and was working at my bench, my cell-phone rang. First thought is; “now what?” No one calls me this time of day unless something is wrong. I glanced at the caller ID and noted it was from one of my brothers. The brother whose wife just had surgery. The kind of surgery no woman should ever have to have. Surgery after several grueling months of Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy for breast cancer that was discovered the day after she retired. After she retired from a job she worked at 20-plus years, working extra hours, on the job and at home, without any fanfare. All the while working, raising several families of foster kids. Kids that had been neglected, discarded, abused, carrying all their baggage with them. Yet she took them in, loved them as her own and still to this day does. Social workers would call them looking, knowing they wouldn’t say no. Now when the foster kids were all gone, the job was done, retirement beckoned with dreams of travel, relaxing, and enjoying life. Instead, retirement took a major turn, down a road called cancer.
The call scared me – I was somewhat afraid to answer. My sister-in-law was supposed to be going home from the hospital, everything was going o.k. – wasn’t it? Cringing I answered and in the back of my mind was terrified of what I was going to hear – it had been just that kind of day. Then my heart, my soul, everything in me just wanted to – cry and sing – at the same time. What my brother called to tell me was; “The test results are in, Judy, is cancer free”. There couldn’t have been any better news – it was so timely, so sweet to my ears, so – profound. “My grace, is sufficient for you.”
We are surrounded by God’s grace, God’s mercy. It’s evident in His creation – we complain about the snow, the cold, the weather in general. When was the last time we looked at the intricate design, shape, or form in a “simple” snowflake? Now multiply that times a number we can’t even fathom because no two are alike. It’s evident in our relationships; how we can love and be loved, even when no one else will. It’s evident in healing; our wounds, our hurts, our pains, our diseases. Yes, medicine helps, medical technology has grown by leaps and bounds, but who created that mind, that studies, that learns, and that invents?
When; the day, the week, the month, when “life”, seems unbearable, He says: “My grace, is sufficient for you”, I know it to be true. I have experienced it, first hand. Yesterday is just one, small, yet significantly clear example.