Friday, March 29, 2013

When God's Ideal & My Ideas Do Not Agree

"Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him..."
Psalm 37:5

Dad is buried in Florida; Mom in Ohio.
This has caused sadness and heartache for me.
It just doesn't seem right that they are not resting side-by-side.

I know, I know,
it isn't really them.
In reality, they are Paradise.
That is a deep-settled fact that God so sweetly witnesses to me
every time I become distressed over this.

But, for some reason, I just always pictured them being buried in the same cemetery,
next to each other,
with a double tombstone engraved with both their names
situated at the top of their graves.
Knowing it isn't that way just doesn't sit right with me.
It hasn't ever since we buried Mom last April.
It is one of those things that gnaws at the insides
and just won't go away.

Do you know what I mean?
Ever have something like that in your life?

Before Mom's funeral, I spoke with the man at the cemetery
and told him I wanted to purchase the burial plot right next to Mom
because I had a big dream somewhere back in my mind that one day
I would have Dad's remains moved the 1,072 miles to be buried next to her.
The man was gracious and sold me the plot on a payment plan.
We have been making monthly payments ever since.

A month or so ago, I decided I would start inquiring as to what is required
to make this nagging dream of mine reality.
I made the phone call to the cemetery in Florida,
and my phone call was answered by a woman with a deep voice
who was a bit on the curt, matter-of-fact side.....
kind of like someone who may be in the wrong line of work? :~)
Not much compassion or empathy or sensitivity....
or any of the personality traits one would expect from 
someone working to please and ease grieving hearts.
This woman was gruff....and all business.

I made my request known to her and began to inquire as to what needed to be done....
to fulfill this dream of mine and make it happen.
Sacrifice, on my part, wasn't an issue.
It meant just that much.

"You're talking thousands upon thousands of dollars" she replied, with little feeling.

"Really?" I asked.

"You have to pay for the vault to be unsealed,
then the casket has to be opened,
the remains have to be examined, evaluated, then packed in dry ice.
You have to find a funeral director who will travel from Florida to Ohio
to accompany the body every step of the way.
It cannot be unaccompanied, at any point.
Each time you pass over the state line into a new state, 
they have to notify the officials concerning the details of what they are hauling.
Then you have to take it upon yourself to sell the plot here in our cemetery.
We won't buy it back from you.
This is a big process, and it is very expensive."
Her voice displayed absolutely no emotion.
Just flat, this-is-the-way-we-do-it-around-here business talk.

I had no idea it involved so much."

My heart sank lower to the floor each time she uttered a word.

She went on explaining other details I needed to know.
At the end, I thanked her, said good-bye, and we hung up.

I began to envision them opening Dad's coffin after almost 13 years.

Dad was the most countrified, unassuming, easily-satisfied person I ever knew.
He was a hard working man who didn't mind getting his hands dirty.
No frills about him.
He didn't care a bit about fanciness or riches or ceremony.
He used to joke and tell us that when he died,
he just wanted us to find an old, pine box and throw him in it.
He was very humorous, but he meant every word.
He was from the old school, was raised very poor, 
and never once tried to get above his raising.

Reality of what the woman had said began to settle over me.
Not what I wanted, but what Dad would want came front and center in my mind.
He wouldn't want this.
He wouldn't want to put us out...he never did.
If he forever knew that I was considering spending thousands of dollars
to move what is left of the Dad we knew, loved, and touched
over a thousand miles just so he could be buried next to Mom, 
he would find it absurd.
Completely unnecessary.
Out of the question.

I could just hear him telling me to leave things alone.
To let it be.

To think of someone opening up his coffin, at this point,
and disturbing his remains makes me feel disrespectful.
It just isn't right.
It is like intruding into something sacred....
something that should not be disturbed.
I just would not....could not do it.
I had no idea they would have to do that.
I thought they could just lift everything out, 
vault and all,
put it on a vault truck,
and it could be moved...respectfully.
With dignity.

I called Tim at the cemetery where Mom is buried....
to get his take on it and ask him a few of the same questions.
He told me if I wanted to sell the plot next to Mom,
they would buy it back from me.

I thanked him and told him I would think about it.
I hung up...still in shock...not ready to let that plot go.
Not ready to accept the fact that this long-term dream is just not going to happen.
Oh, it could happen.
If I made the absolute decision to do it,
if we came up with the money,
this could happen.

But, is it really God's will that it happen?
It has been important to me for so long,
I never thought to ask Him if this is what He wants.
If He had wanted them buried side-by-side, 
wouldn't things have worked out that way?
In the first place?

Sometimes God reveals His will through our circumstances.
Then it is up to us to follow the flow...and not push against it.

God looks at all things through the lens of eternity.
We are so our thinking.
We see this side of things.
In reality, the soul is what matters.....
that part of us that will live forever.
The part of Mom and Dad that God now holds in His grasp.
The eternal, never-dying part of them.
They are safe.
Never to be disturbed by satan again.
Never to feel another pain.
Never to cry another tear.
Never to die another death.

I know God is sensitive to my heartache.
He is so touched by everything that touches us.
He is love....the epitome of goodness, compassion, and mercy.
So, I know He cares about this.

He cared when my heart shattered hearing the woman's words.
He cared when I sat down, after we hung up, and tried to absorb
what I had just been told.
He cared, when the possibility that this just might never happen
began to appear on the horizon of my thought process.
He cares, and He gently tried to ease me into this...
by allowing things to fall the way they have fallen.

God cares about our shattered dreams.
He cares when our dreams don't line up with His will.
And He is there to mend the heartache.
To pick up the brokenness.
To bind up our broken hearts.
To give us the strength to let go.

I have this way of looking at things....thinking things must be a certain way...
in order for them to be right.
Right....according to my standards.
Right....the way I see them.

God's thoughts are so far above mine.
His ways so far above my ways.
He had a purpose in allowing things to fall the way they fell.
And He is not required to align His purpose with my expectations.
I am to align my will with His.
He doesn't have to ask my permission before He makes a move.
He doesn't have to consult with me to see if things are going the way I have them pictured to go.
He doesn't have to adapt His plan to suit my whims.
I am to surrender what I think is best 
to His already-laid-out-design.
I am to accept His ideal and let go of my idea....
when the two do not agree.

God's will is non-negotiable.

He has a perfect plan...already put in place.
It is up to me to come to a place of acceptance of and adherence to that plan.

Think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
His body was human.
Just like yours...and mine.
His flesh recoiled from the awful agony, torture, and suffering He knew would come to Him that night....
just like you or I would cringe and draw back.
Who wants to suffer?
Three times Jesus prayed the same prayer.
Three times He wished for a different outcome...
a different way....
a different path to reach the imperative destination.
Three times He begged His Father to change His mind.
Can you feel His anguish?
On that first Good Friday all those years ago?

Please read the account with me found in Matthew 26:38-44.

"Then saith he unto them,
My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: 
tarry ye here, and watch with me.
And he went a little further,
and fell on his face, and prayed, saying,
O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep,
and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: 
the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying,
O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
And he left them, and went away again,
and prayed the third time, saying the same words."

Three times, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, asked God for a different path.
Three times He hoped for deliverance from the awful cup He knew He must drink.
Three times He came to the realization that His longing for a different outcome
did not align with His Father's will.
Three times He surrendered and said,
"Not My will, but Thine be done."

Imagine if He hadn't surrendered.
I even think of that "what if?".

I don't know why things had to fall the way they did
or why it has to be so complicated to make things end up
the way I think they should be.
But, lately, it has occurred to me that God has another plan...
for that extra plot beside Mom.

I am going to hold on to it.
Kevin and I decided we will not sell it back to the cemetery.
We will keep making the monthly payments.
We don't feel led to let it go.
We considered buying two extra plots beside it for the three of us,
but no others are available.
I'm starting to think maybe someone else is intended to be buried to Mom.
When the time comes, God will make it plain,
and the plot will be given and used the way it is meant to be.

Dad's remains will remain...
right where they are.
I won't have them disturbed.
They will rest.
Until that great and wonderful day,
when Gabriel sounds his trumpet
and the dead in Christ arise
to go and live forever with the Lord!
His body, now decayed and unrecognizable,
will be recognized by Him Who created him.
It will be changed....into a celestial body,
when mortality takes on immortality and death is swallowed up in victory!
What a day that will be!

Down here, it isn't the way I had it pictured.
It doesn't seem right.
On that day, it won't tiny bit.

As for me....I wanted a different outcome.
But, I'm okay.
It is just one of those unchangeable things I must accept....
and move on.

I accept.
I surrender.
I say from the heart,
"Not my will, Father, but Thine be done",
because He absolutely knows what is best.
Peace comes as the words spring....
all the way from my heart.

How about you, my friend?
Are there things in your life that are hard to understand?
Things that turned out differently than you think they should have?
Things that just don't sit right with you?
Maybe you have tried your utmost to turn things around,
create a different outcome,
change the end result...
only to come up short and feel that you are pushing against a bigger plan.
It is quite possible that you are.
Perhaps God has said no.
End of discussion.
Door tightly and permanently closed.

I know how you feel.
It is hard to let go.
It hurts to realize that your idea and God's ideal do not agree.

It's okay to feel the way you do.
You will find complete rest as you surrender.
As soon as you utter the words Jesus uttered....
tears coursing down His cheeks, splashing on to Gethsemane's soil,
sweat seeping through His pores as great drops of blood,
heart shattered and anguish-riven....
three days before that first Easter morning.

Jesus won the victory that night.
So will you.

Peace will you align your ideas to God's ideal.
Slowly, refreshingly, unexpectedly peace will fall....
from His heart....into yours....

kind of like softly falling snow on a quiet winter evening.

It falls.
It covers.
It envelops.
It changes the landscape and fills the inmost soul.

At the end of the day,
feeling that peace is all that really matters.


  1. Beautiful Cheryl! Absolute Surrender has been a cry of my heart since the beginning of the year. It is in that place of surrender where we become the vessels He can use, when filled by His Spirit, to move those mountains. So many times in the humble position of surrender, we have the sweetest communion with Him.

    Thanks for the reminder. Praying for your heart to be cushioned by he grace-filled embraces.

    1. Thank you so much, Dawn! The communion is SO worth the surrender. I trust God will richly bless you and keep you in His care. Come back anytime! :~)