Jesus said, “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is not yet.” (Mark 13:7)
I say, “Rats.”
Because I think I’m ready for the end. I think.
There’s a quick, throw away gag in Steve Martin’s comedy Roxanne. Steve is walking down a sidewalk. He stops to put a quarter in a newspaper vending rack. He lifts the display window, pulls out a newspaper, and starts reading the front page.
Immediately he starts screaming in terror as he sees one headline after another. He scrambles in his pocket for another quarter, reopens the newspaper vending window, and crams the newspaper back inside. Then he walks calmly away, his tranquility restored.
I feel that way and these days I can’t even read a newspaper. There’s enough brokenness in my circumstances to cause me distress without them.
The same for Melanie. Yesterday she was greatly encouraged by the results of my swallowing test. I’ve been taking all nourishment by mouth since last summer. I haven’t choked to death yet. Melanie was hoping that meant they could remove the feeding tube that was pierced into my stomach two years ago when I had the stroke that, among other things, paralyzed my tongue and mouth. When Melanie called the doctor’s office, she was told the first available time they had was three months away. As we rode along in the car this morning, she told me she was having a big battle in her mind over the frustrating additional wait that would be required by us both.
It’s the day before Thanksgiving so I give thanks the doctor is staying busy helping so many other people. But I also mumble, “Rats,” at seeing Melanie’s distress.
We were in the car going to pay a visit to my mom in her assisted living quarters. Today is her 97th birthday. She was excited to see me wobbling breathlessly into her room. She has become a great encourager to the other elderly folks on her floor. Perhaps that is one reason God has kept her busy here for another day, another year. She’s been a minister most of her life and is ready to go home to Jesus, but he seems to be saying, “Not yet.” He at least kept her here so we could see each other one more time.
There may even be other reasons Melanie and I have not yet gotten the answer at the prayer door we’ve been knocking on the past two years. Recently one friend dropped by our house for a visit. The conversation turned in an unexpected direction. This friend mentioned some ongoing challenges in their extended family. Our friend was nervous about the upcoming holiday visits and dinners at their house. Then they said, “I have learned a lot about how to deal with those challenges just watching you and Melanie.”
So there was a small clue about possibly why God was not answering our other prayers immediately. “Not yet, not yet.”
I’ll be spending part of my Thanksgiving practicing thanks giving. I can’t eat any turkey yet. But I don’t have to eat rodents either.