What happens when the choices we make wrong? What happens to our relationship with God when we go our own way? Sometimes, the wrong choice is not something we do. Rather, it is a choice to do nothing at all. I distinctly recall the memory of making a decision to ignore the urging of the Holy Spirit.
Fifteen years ago, I was living in Chicago, IL. I got a call from my mother telling me that my grandfather was ill. My grandfather was a man that at the age of 80 climbed a cherry tree simply because he wanted my mother to make a pie for dessert. He was a man who, just a few years later, had major surgery and bounced right back.
So, when my mother called to say he was sick, I knew that it would be alright. I flew down to see him. When I arrived at the hospice, his eyes were glazed over, his skin was pale with a yellowish tint, and he couldn’t speak. I spent a few hours with him, holding his hand and at times having a one-sided conversation telling him all that was going on in my life at the moment.
That evening, as I was leaving, I leaned in very close and whispered, “Grandpa, don’t worry about anything. I’m here. I remember all that you’ve taught me. I can handle it. Just get some rest. It’ll be alright.”
I stood up to look at him to try and determine if my words had been understood. He began to struggle, as if he wanted to say something. He jerked my hand.
I told him, “Grandpa, it’s okay. Get some rest. I’m going back to Chicago early in the morning, but I’ll be back in two days. Rest and don’t worry. Get some sleep.”
The next morning, I got up at 4AM to make my flight. I was excited to return to Chicago and see my wife. Her job at the time made her travel during the week, so weekends were our only time we could spend together. Moreover, we had plans to see a show and reservations at a nice restaurant for later that evening.
Driving to the airport required me to pass by the hospice center. The Holy Spirit spoke to me, “stop and see your grandfather.“
I negotiated. “I’ll see him in a couple of days. Besides, it’s too early. I don’t want to wake him up, or any of the other patients.”
“Stop and see your grandfather.”
Ignoring the calling, I entered the interstate and sped towards the airport. The roads were nearly empty and I had no doubt that I’d make my flight with plenty of time to spare. In fact, I was at the gate before anyone else arrived. As I sat there, the voice of the Holy Spirit kept speaking to me.
“Go see your grandfather.”
“I’ll be back in a couple of days.”
The flight was smooth and uneventful. My wife and I had agreed that I would call her when I reached Chicago O’Hare airport. I forgot. When I got home, she was waiting for me in our bedroom. The moment I saw her, I remembered and apologized. She just looked at me with eyes that radiated love across the room.
“Come sit next to me,” she said.
She held out her arms and invited me into a warm embrace. I felt myself relax.
“Your mother called.”
I jolted out of her arms. I looked at my wife’s face. The tears that flowed out of me that morning will be remembered for as long as I live. The guilt I felt for not listening to the soft, gentle voice of the Holy Spirit was debilitating. I tried to run from it. I tried to deny it. I tried to rationalize it. But, until I gave it to Jesus, I couldn’t do anything with it.
The enemy would have crushed me with it. He would have buried me in the tomb. And truth be told, he nearly succeeded. But, I’m still here.
Praise God, because “no power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39
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