The following recounts an event in my life about two years ago. It had a profound effect on my faith and my outlook on life. I hope it helps all who read it.
God’s Plan in a Glance
Dennis P. McGeehan
I was already awake before the alarm clock chimed. 5:00 a.m. Time to get moving. For the past several months I had made it a habit to roll from my bed onto my knees and start my day with prayer. Normally I would begin, “Good morning, God,” but today the forced tone was more like, “Good God, it’s morning.”
I had spent the past two hours tossing and turning with fears causing me to alternately shake with fear and anger. They were familiar worries but they were more intense. Bills, the mortgage, the utilities, groceries, how would I split the money this month, who would get paid and who would have to wait. The car needed repaired, the transmission had just died. There was a $ 2500.00 unexpected expense. I had just gotten a nice tax refund and planned to use it on some long delayed needs , now I needed to come up with more money instead of having a bit of surplus for a month or two.
Besides the bills there were other issues at home that added to the stress. When you’re the father of eight kids there’s ample opportunity for things to go wrong. My daughter and seven sons are wonderful, but two of the older ones were puzzling their future and considering the military. I had told them both I would support whatever decision they made, and I meant that, but thoughts of them being killed or wounded would not go away.
Then there was work which was in a state of transition. A new administration, new bosses and new ways of doing things had everyone in turmoil. There was talk of layoffs. We had recently gone through a payless payday, now the threat of losing our jobs loomed. There was also the old Do more with Less slogan making the rounds, you have to wonder how far they can push that before they realize it isn’t working.
No, I did not want to get out of bed. I did not want to go work. But I had to. Our family has a paper route that we do seven days a week and my wife and kids needed my help. I rolled onto my knees, offered the prayers such as they were and got dressed.
Upon arriving at work things were chaotic before the day began. We were short of staff again and it was up to me and my co-worker to figure out how to make it work. It was a daily burden. Sometimes it felt crushing. We had lost at least a dozen positions over the years, but instead of our work load decreasing it had increased. Somehow, with everyone pulling together in our department we made it happen. For our efforts we were usually rewarded with more work.
I got through the morning chaos and began to concentrate on a project I had been given. I needed to develop a form and complete it for every resident in our facility. There were almost 300 residents and I had to meet with at least 15 different groups of people to complete the form. The form was almost finished when the electricity went out. The computer crashed and a lot of work was lost. Shortly after the power went off, I got a phone call warning me that maintenance would be turning off the power temporarily to do some work. I had already figured that out.
It was close to lunch and I really needed to go somewhere, anywhere. I left my desk and went out to my car. I drove to a spot off grounds that I often used to have a quiet lunch. Sometimes I would just listen to the radio. Today I just needed silence so I could decompress. I reclined the driver’s seat, closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on just breathing. It worked. I almost fell asleep when I sat bolt upright. It was like I had been hit with an electric shock. I adjusted my seat, started the car and drove. I had no idea where I was going. I headed into town. I remember thinking where am I going but I couldn’t resist the urge to drive. In town I came to an intersection and even to my surprise I made a left turn. It dawned on me I was heading toward the church. I had in the past often stopped in for a quick visit but those times were usually planned on my part. Today I had no such plans but that was where I was headed. In a few shorts minutes I was in the church parking lot.
Sitting in the car I looked over toward the school, there was a bunch kids outside enjoying recess. A feeling of loss filled me, a longing for simpler times. The kids were running and screaming having a great time despite the weather. It was a cold dreary day and the clouds threatened rain at any time. The weather was a perfect match for my mood. After sitting in the car for a few minutes I got out and walked into the church. Again it didn’t seem like a decision I had consciously made rather it felt like I was being carried along on a wave. I entered the church, blessed myself with Holy Water and took a pew in the back. This too was different. Normally I would walk up and sit in the first pew when I made a visit but today that didn’t feel right, I needed more space.
Inside the church was dark enough that it was hard to see, the dim light from outside barely illuminating the inside through the windows. I genuflected, knelt down and buried my face in my hands. I remember a feeling of being pressed down like I had a weight on my shoulders. I pushed my face onto my folded arms hard and just stayed still. My mind raced with all the fears of the night before, the power outage at work, the frustrations that were building for weeks now. I tried to force myself to recite a prayer, the Divine Praises. I had memorized it recently to use during the morning when I first got out of bed. Blessed Be God, Blessed Be His Holy Name, . . . I didn’t get much further.
I just began to vent, silently but I let loose. Come on God give me a break. I complained about everything and begged for help about everything. I ranted on in my mind for several minutes. When I couldn’t think of anything else to complain about, I stopped and quieted my thoughts, it felt like a weight dropped off my shoulders. I raised my head and looked around. My eyes had trouble focusing at first. As things became clearer, I was able to see that the church had been redecorated for Lent. It was something they did every year and they usually did the same thing. The huge Crucifix with the Resurrected Christ was replaced with a very realistic Cross that looked to be made of rough-hewn logs. At the intersection of the cross pieces was a nasty looking Crown of Thorns, but not this year. From where I knelt I was directly in front of the Crucifix, the Resurrected Christ was still there. Off to my left at about eight o’clock was the rough-hewn cross with the Crown of Thorns. At ten o’clock from my position was the Tabernacle in its normal place.
Then it hit me like a light bulb bursting into full glow. There in front of me I could see the whole story and the answers to all my prayers, complaints and worries. Problems I got, but at least I’m not literally on a cross, even though it sometimes feels like it. There is light at the end of the tunnel and there He was in his Resurrected Glory. Even more, there He was waiting for me to come to Him and have a heart to heart talk, waiting in the Tabernacle.
From my position in the church I could see in one glance the whole answer to my worries and the worries of every human being. Jesus was here. He really does understand our pains because he went through them and more. And he is waiting patiently to listen, to support and to guide us as we deal with life’s many difficulties.
My problems were real but they could be a lot worse. I remembered times when I had much worse problems, when we had lost our home to a fire, when I was told by the doctors that my son could die. A shudder went down my back at that memory. I started to shut down when I was told my son could die. I didn’t restart until three days later when I was told he was breathing on his own. The difficulties I was dealing with now paled in comparison, so why was I so down.
I got off my knees and sat down in the pew. I felt refreshed and renewed. I sat there for several minutes just enjoying the lack of stress and dread. I didn’t know what was going to happen as far as my sons’ decisions were concerned, but I trusted God loved them more than I did. My wife and I would prioritize our money problems and get through it somehow. God would see to that. The fear was gone.
I left the church and headed for my car. It was still grey and cold outside but now the sun was poking out here and there. The tops of the clouds had a beautiful green blue tint to them. I got into my car and called my wife on my cell phone. She answered like she usually did, “Hi Wonderful Husband!”
I began to count my blessings.
“Thank You, God!”