This past weekend, I had to help care for my father-in-law. He is a sweet elderly man, whom I love dearly, and who loves us (all of us) with so much enthusiasm. My FIL suffered a massive stroke nearly 17 years ago. No one thought he would survive (at all), let alone five years. Yet, here he is, still living and still loving the Lord Jesus Christ. I tell him that the Lord isn't done with him yet. He just laughs at me.
My FIL was a music teacher for many years. He also was a band director for a Christian High School. Music is a huge part of his life. He has a lovely singing voice, and before his stroke, performed with a quartet in San Francisco. He also was President of a Christian Jr. and Sr. High School. He played piano, and always had music playing. He loved photography too, and fishing (oh, and fishing). My FIL is probably the biggest fisherman I know.
He really cannot do that any more, nor can he perform. He did sing in the church choir for a couple years after his stroke. Now, he just listens to the music (and cries all the time when he hears really good performers play). He loves my son and tells him all the time how talented he is -- he is his biggest fan.
So, this past weekend, we were on care duty while my MIL went to Minnesota to teach women's groups. My son and I decided to give a recital. DS has given a number of recitals, but this was my first one. I was very nervous, though I had no real reason to be nervous. My son played Billy Joel's Rootbeer Rag and Chopin's Nocturne (Opus something). It was lovely. I played two pieces by Handel (from Water Music). I did OK. My FIL loved it, of course, I knew he would.
This weekend was really a turning point for me. My husband spent Wednesday through Saturday evening at his parents house. My son and I remained home. It was a trial run, so to speak, for us living a part. This is something we have discussed, well, I have discussed it mostly. I put my foot down and asked my DH to leave at the end of last year, due to some issues in our home and marriage. The economy being what it is and all, he has not been able to do this. We have lived in a truce since then. I have been patiently waiting for the Lord to do something; and my DH has been trying to save enough money to accommodate my request. It is has just been downright weird, that is all.
I mean, we are married, yet not acting like we are married. To further complicate matters, my dear FIL doesn't know that we are having marital problems. My MIL chose this path because she didn't want to upset him. This meant that during the week and weekend, we had to act like everything was OK. Not an easy feat, but doable. We are not at odds right now -- just in a settled truce. We are trying very hard to remain on good terms for our son's sake and well-being. Still, it was really hard to do things like old times. I mean, the past ten months or so, I have been working hard to come to terms with my own singleness and my own path. I have formed my own opinions, and tried to reconcile the events of the last few years. I have come through the "wringer" as they say, and I survived it.
Now, here I was trying very hard to show that everything was OK, when in fact, it was not. I remember praying to the Lord, and asking Him to help me do this very thing. I love my FIL. I love him dearly, and the last thing I wanted to do was upset him. The funny thing is that the Lord not only answered my prayer regarding my FIL, but He gave me something to boot.
You see, on Sunday, I was in quite a quandary, and didn't know what to do. My folks had invited me and my son for dinner. My DH was going to pick his mom up at the airport, so it was something we could do separately. For some reason, I just didn't feel right (good) about doing that, and I told my Mom so. In the past, my attitude has been "I don't really care," meaning that I was going to do what I wanted without a lot of regard for my DH's whereabouts and such. In the past, this was OK, because after all we were on the verge of divorcing and my DH wasn't really trying very hard not to do what he wanted to do.
Something in me changed this weekend. I cannot really explain it, but it was definitely a shift in my opinion. It wasn't anything my DH did at all -- in fact -- we had a huge argument about some things earlier in the week. There was no real change on that front. But, within me, there was a definite shift of purpose and of mind. I cannot really say it any other way, but my entire perspective and attitude just changed. I went from being pretty upset, (ok, really upset), to simply not caring about anything, to coming back around to looking at the situation with a new found sense of justice. I looked and saw real people for a change, and not just hurt feelings. I saw my FIL who so dearly loved us and was loving our recital; I saw my son performing and making his granddad laugh so loudly; I saw my DH looking rather sad and forelorn; and I saw me, sad and depressed over what I recognized as the end of a life together. It was surreal -- no pain, no hurt -- just the reality of a life ruined by sin -- and the leftovers all mashed together and not looking so pretty anymore.
As I reflected on this past weekend, I realized this: I am really through the entire separation process. I have run the gamut, scaled the peaks and surfed the valleys, and I have come through it all in one piece. Not only am I whole, but I am whole in the sense of being able to set aside my personal feelings, and see things the way God sees them. I see the people whose lives have been ravaged by sin. I see how the choices we make destroy people, hurt them so deeply, and affect them in such a way as to cause them to lose heart, to lose their way, and to potentially, fall victim to sin's temptation themselves.
The sad truth is this: sin leads to death and not just death of the body. It kills the soul. It kills the personality. It destroys life in all it's forms and facets. It is a destroyer of all that is good. The Word is right to warn us to flee it's temptations -- to rid ourselves -- to run away as fast as we can. The Word says: "The wages of sin is death." Amen, this is truth. Sin kills everything in it's sight, and we as believers need to treat it as the Black Plaque. Run, run, and run faster. Avoid it at all costs -- it will destroy you, your family, your relationship with God, and ultimately your eternal resting place. It is death, Black Death, and we must not give in, play with it, or even give it any measure of consideration.
So where does that leave me? Well, in this very odd place, actually. I am finding that my heart is filled with love and I cannot account for it. I have seen with God's eyes the destruction of my family, and I have made the decision to stop it, to not let it go on. I choose life and all that life brings -- and I choose God's way in all things. I cannot stand by any longer and allow death to reign in my home and in my family. I don't want to suffer the affect of sin on my life, especially not my own sin. I want to be free, I want to live free, and to walk in that freedom. This is the freedom Christ died to give to me, and now I want to embrace it and live in it. But, not just me -- I want to help others to receive it as well. There is no reason for Christian's to remain in bondage to sin. There is a way out -- there is a way -- and it is right through the Cross of Jesus Christ. In Christ alone do we have our victory. He has overcome sin, and we overcome in His Name.
May He be Praised forevermore.