Psalm 138 (NRSV)
Thanksgiving and Praise – Of David.
I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything.
On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth. They shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
I try really hard to be an all around good person and I think I succeed most of the time. But today I feel like a failure.
God has truly done amazing and wonderful things for me and through me. And I take those things for granted far too often. Especially when I am grieving.
I have a tendency to focus inward and shut down to the outside world when I’m upset. When I’m grieving, my shut down process can happen in the blink of an eye. I can be having a great day and then something will happen that causes me to immediately disengage and retreat into my own mind. I did that far too often today.
Today marks the anniversary of the death my dad’s best friend and a man who was like a dad to me in so many ways. I am still grieving his loss. Today was an amazing celebration of his life, full of friends, service projects, love, and of course, food. While I was unable to participate in the events of the day, I am still so glad that his memory and legacy were celebrated in the way that would have made Mike the happiest.
But today I’m remembering all the things Mike did for me and I can’t help but think that I never said goodbye. I never visited him in the hospital. I never called. I never wrote. I did way too little far too late.
Because I was scared.
Grief causes us great amounts of fear. And for Mike, I was way too weak to overcome that fear. Instead, when he was so sick, I retreated inside my own mind and shut down to the world.
Friends, if there is anything to glean from this, it’s that you cannot let grief or fear win your mind or your soul.
Mike was a man who went out of his way to serve others in the name of love. Mike taught all of us what the physical embodiment of grace, service, love, and giving looked like. Mike showed us how to be in the world and not of the world. Mike loved everyone he met and, I’m sure, everyone he hadn’t met yet. He was there for all of us all the time. I should have been there for him like he always was for me.
The above psalm reminds us that God has given us a purpose and will give us strength to carry out our purpose. The psalm tells us “Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Don’t forget to face your fears caused by grief. Don’t forget to be in the world working and serving alongside your neighbors. Don’t forsake the hard work of clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting those who are imprisioned.
Don’t be too little too late.
Instead, be like Mike. Be a force of good and be there now. Seek out people that are hurting and help ease their pain. Stay up late and wake up early. Smile just because you are able to and because God is good.
This is how I am going to be more like Mike.