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What a Weekend!

After a lot of thought, I recently came to the conclusion that, after many years of service, it was time for me to retire from the role of hospice chaplain and pass the baton on to the younger generation. I will continue to pastor in our community and do other things as doors open, but I have to admit, though, that it is not without some sorrow that I lay aside a part of my life that has brought me much fulfillment over the years and hopefully provided comfort and help to a few families along the way.

Upon stepping away from such a rewarding role, how does one adapt to a major change in responsibility and scheduling? I suppose some would take a Caribbean cruise or perhaps go to an exotic place only previously dreamed about, but for Gale and me it had nothing to do with those kinds of things. Instead, we agreed to take care of three of our grandchildren while our daughter and son in law got away for the weekend. The oldest one is a young adult and there was not much for us to do there. Addy is eleven, so her requirements of us are not great. But then there is four year old Reagan who needs an eagle’s eye keeping watch over her since you never know what that child is going to get in to next!

There was more to the weekend package of duties that we agreed to–more than just the granddaughters to feed, entertain, and keep watch over. Addy recently got a show pig so there was an overpriced porker to tend to. Not only that, but it included a big German Shepherd and a flock of chickens that had to be given feed and water. For normal people, animal care is a snap, but for me there are always complications. During those three days the pig would not eat, the dog ran away, and one of the chickens died. Thankfully the kids did fine. We even made the weekend without Raegan jumping off the roof of the house or pulling any other scary stunts—at least not that we were aware of. Life can be quite interesting!

Life is a gift from God that includes all kinds of things—the expected as well as the unexpected. It goes by amazingly fast, so we do well to make the best of each day that God allows us to experience. Every day we need to remind ourselves that it is God Who is in control and not us. During a time of great difficulty for the Jewish people, the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, in a short and sincere prayer, acknowledged an important truth about life: “I know , O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23, New International Version). And in Proverbs 20:24 we find this wise reminder about life: “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?”

There is great comfort in the realization that God is the giver and sustainer of life and it is His plans that will prevail. It is always in our best interest to follow the will of God in all matters of life and strive to grow in our submission to Him. Our desire in life should always be like that of the psalmist: “Teach me to do Your will, for you are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:10).

As for the challenges that we faced during our recent few days with the girls, in the end all turned out well. The pig starting back eating on the day that Jessica and Will got home and a kind neighbor found Roxie about a mile down the road and kept her in safety until her owners got back. Unfortunately–and as expected–things did not get better for the chicken, but I suppose overcoming two out of three hurdles is not too bad considering what a weekend we had!