Hotel rooms are by and large impersonal places, wherein one reserves impersonal spaces, in which to obtain a little rest in the midst of a busy travel schedule. The one I am currently occupying looks a great deal like many other such rooms I have spent time in over the years.
In this unremarkable place I am neither wife nor mother, aunt nor neighbor, counselor nor friend. I am anonymous. Yes, I am registered at the front desk under my own name, but no one knows me here. I walk quietly unseen to the breakfast room, or to the lobby to pick up my complimentary USA Today.
And yet, it should not surprise me to be reminded this evening that my Father in heaven knows exactly where I am, now, this moment in both time and circumstance.
After another strained evening of spending time with the family I have come to visit, I returned to the hotel to rest. I scrolled listlessly through the TV channels as I glanced at the books I had with me to read, and thought about jotting down some notes for this blog.
As some of you know, we have just driven from California to North Carolina to visit a family member who is very ill. He is my nephew, and at 39 years old he is fighting a life and death battle with Ewing's Sarcoma.
His body is wracked with pain and distortion from the tumor and he does not look like the handsome young man I saw just months ago prior to his diagnosis. And yet, his spirits are good and his faith is rebounding.
He had been a prodigal son in recent years, and he regretfully acknowledges this during our conversation. Despite his suffering, he retains his sense of humor amid the pathos. As we came around the corner toward his house yesterday he pointed to the street sign. It read "Ewing St."
We then turned from Ewing onto Vine St. where he lives, and he said, "Look, you think God doesn't have a way of setting us straight. I had to take Ewing to get to Vine - and Ewing's is the name of my cancer, but it has brought me back to depending upon the Vine for my life." He said this with no bitterness.
& & &
So as I scrolled through the channels I spotted a Western from a few years back, Open Range, and stopped to watch awhile. A few minutes later, as the protagonists bury their friend who has been killed by a greedy robber baron, the character played by Robert Duvall says, "Lord, I'll take off my hat to you as we say some words over our friend here. But I want you to know, I'll be holdin' a grudge against you for his passin'. "
I was immediately struck by the timeliness of the reminder that many of us will respectfully take our hats off to God, while at the same time carrying a grudge against him for things we believe he should have prevented in our lives or the lives of those we care about.
A grudge against God is a hard thing to carry. It is heavy and unwieldy, and hinders all that we do or say in life. We have all loved and lost, put our money in bags with holes in them, or trusted a friend who proved to be anything but one. As Aaron Neville once sang, "everybody plays the fool, sometimes, no exceptions to the rule..".
The question then, is whether to carry a grudge against God for our circumstances, our relationships, or our choices. Bad things do happen to good people. And vice versa.
It is not for nothing that God's word warns us:
See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (Hebrews 12:15)
Bitterness is a self-administered poison that not only kills our own spirit, but defiles all our hopes, relationships, and dreams.
I choose not to carry a grudge against God.
I hope you are doing well in your own choices about whether to blame God for whatever disappointment or pain you are currently dealing with. But if you are struggling in this area, know this: God's grace is greater than your grudge against him. That is, indeed, good news!
God bless you - Marsha