By the time my mom died in early April of 2006, most of my time was spent tending to her needs. To say taking care of her was my full time job would truly be a great understatement. My life revolved around her needs and had for quite some time.
In the weeks after mom passed away I struggled to establish what God wanted me to do. I was so far removed from ministry work that I could not fathom doing that. I was far removed and physically incapable of working on a regular basis in the world, I could conceive doing that either. With all the time and a nice little financial inheritance at my disposal, I was truly at a crossroads in my life.
After a few weeks of tending to my mom’s affairs, I reached a point in early May of 2006 where I needed God’s guidance and direction more than I had in decades. I made a series of trips to see my sister, brother and other relatives for I wanted to bless them with some of mom’s stuff and re-establish family ties. That was fun but certainly not fulfilling.
For years two friends who had helped us get the house ready for mom to move to in 2004 came out about once a month and spent a day fellowshipping and playing cards with us. My mom lived for these times and truly counted this couple as her close friends.
I knew Mike (not real name) loved to play golf so I decided to surprise him by picking up a set a used clubs at a garage sale so we could go golfing together. The first time we got together to play our card game after mom had died, I told him how I had gotten some clubs and was looking forward to hitting the golf links with him.
Have you ever been in a situation where reality rose up and slapped you in the face? Where what you perceived to be true turned out to be a total fabrication? Where your schemes and plans suddenly crumbled in a million pieces on the floor when you found out things were not as you supposed?
After I announced my plan regarding the golfing together there was stone silence. Mike and his wife looked at each other as they tried to break the news to me that we were not “those kinds of friends”. As it turned out he did not want to do ANYTHING with just me. He enjoyed the four of us being together but had no desire to have any relationship with me.
I was stunned, heartbroken and angry all at once. I put on m smiley face and kept playing cards as if nothing was wrong. In my heart I knew things would never be the same with these people, and they have not been. We rarely get together anymore and when we do, the fellowship is O.K. but nothing like it used to be.
Within days after that devastating experience, I decided to fulfill a desire in my heart to reach out to believers whose lives had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. For the next year and beyond, I devoted my life to finding help for those who had lost their homes, families and churches by the storm. I ended up making countless trips to Mississippi and Alabama as well as trips all over the country soliciting resources.
Far and away the most exciting, demanding and fulfilling stretch of time in my life was during this time when I fully committed myself to helping as many people as I could. The wild thing is that none of it would have ever happened if my “friend” had been excited about playing a stupid game of golf instead of rejecting me.
When God closes one door, He will open another. If we can look past the momentary pain and frustration of a closed door to what God has in store for us next, we usually are astounded by what God leads us to. When we decide to quit telling God what to do and allow Him to lead us into what HE wants us to do, we find true peace and fulfillment in our lives.
It is truly astounding to me how one little incident while sitting around a table playing a silly card game totally changed my life and what I did with it. Never, and may I repeat—NEVER underestimate how and what Almighty God has in store for your life when you lay down your own desires and desire to simply do His will and not your own.