Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write an INSPIRATIONAL or DEVOTIONAL piece (04/26/07)
TITLE: Unfinished Work
By Pam Carlson-Hetland
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“What will I do without my husband?” My mother looked out from the passenger seat of the car at the gray day. We were on the way to the hospital to visit my father after surgery. There had been recent complications; the prognosis wasn’t good. Her hands twisting together, she was barely controlling the rising panic I saw in her eyes. I hurt for her. I knew, all too well, those same emotions.
“You’ll do what I am doing, Mom.” I said gently. “You will go on. You will grieve, but you will go on. And God will send help.”
I watched, with some amusement, how she switched to mother-mode. I could almost read her mind--admonishing herself at saying such a thing to her daughter trying to cope with an unexpected separation and pending divorce.
“Oh, Honey, I didn’t mean....”
“I know, Mom.” I assured her, patting the knotted fingers. “But I know what I’m talking about. The Lord has provided much guidance and support for me. He’ll do the same for you if that time comes. All you have to do is ask and trust that He will provide it.”
The days dragged on with Dad barely hanging on. We prayed...hard. Mother’s inner strength wore down. There was a child-like neediness when she wasn’t by Dad’s bedside with a practiced cheerful face and soothing words of encouragement. I provided her with daily transportation to see Dad and bought her groceries. Mom needed to talk through her anxiety. She needed comfort. She needed hope. She wanted my time and attention.
My elementary school age daughter was also struggling with the loss of her father in the house, with multiple school issues, and with all the stress that comes from so many difficult situations bombarding simultaneously. One day, I got a call from her teacher. The day had not gone well, could I come early to get her. As I walked up to the door, my daughter was waiting. She ran to me and buried her face in my coat, clinging tightly. She needed comfort. She needed hope. She wanted my time and attention.
Sandwiched between these two precious people who were in such great need while trying to handle a personal trial of my own was exhausting. In my early morning devotions, I cried out to the God, “Lord, I’m drained! I love my mother and my daughter, but I have nothing more to offer them. My cup is empty. Give me Your eyes to see them.”
The answer came a few days later. Quietly, the Lord spoke to my heart: “They are unfinished work.”
In that instant, I knew Who spoke to me. I knew who “they” were. And I completely understood that they were His unfinished work–not mine. What was also surprising was the innate comprehension that our Heavenly Father made no distinction between the 8 year old and the 80 year old. He considered them both a work in progress.
There was an immediate lifting of great burden from me. The days went on, the schedules were still heavy. But my attitude was different. Perhaps that was because I finally realized that it was not my place to remove these hardships from their lives. It was my job to come along side them, to encourage them in the Lord.
Now, several years later, I see how the Lord used all of our difficulties to prepare us for the future–to shape us. My father did recover and go back home. My parents grew closer yet. They began to take practical steps to prepare for their own care when they could no longer stay in their home. They counted the value of their days.
My daughter has grown stronger and more determined. In early teenage years, she took significant stands on important issues. She stood up for what was right and, in that, gained a sense of self-worth that had been lost at such a tender age.
In my own adjustments to being a single parent, I have learned a valuable lesson on stewardship of the relationships that God gives us. Most importantly, I learned how close our Heavenly Father is and how to lay down a burden at His feet.
Indeed, we are the clay, He is the potter. We are all Unfinished Work.
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