The message was marked urgent. From our church. A 16-year-old girl was in the final stage of cancer and paralyzed; the family was in need of help.
“Honey. I just got this email from Calvary.” My husband was in the kitchen when I brought him the news. He listened attentively, frowning at the report.
“Of course we can volunteer. Call and schedule us.” Then, thoughtfully, he added, “She’s the same age as Hilary.”
I nodded as I, too, wondered how I would feel if this child were our granddaughter. It was not something I wanted to think about.
As I thanked God for his many blessings and asked for His hand on the daughter of this unknown family, I dialed Cheryl’s number to offer our assistance. After a game of phone tag, the final message indicated that aid was required Monday through Friday from 10:30am to 3:30pm.
Ken was measuring and drilling holes in the hood of his truck to attach his requested birthday present, a “bug shield”, when I joined him in the garage.
“How’s it going?”
“Almost ready to bolt it in place. Just one more hole to drill. What’s up?”
“Well, I heard from Cheryl again about the schedule for that girl, and wanted to check with you before I confirmed a time.” I reiterated the timetable and was shocked at his outburst.
“Oh for heaven sakes. You know I can’t possibly do it during the day. I’ve got to work.”
I was astonished. I stammered, “But … it’s February. You can take time off one or two days without jeopardizing your contract.” Since retiring three years ago, Ken had built up a yard maintenance business to fill his time and bring in extra money. He took his work seriously and had some year-round customers for whom he trimmed trees and shrubs or pulled weeds and spread bark during his “off” season.
“Absolutely not. I would have gladly done it at night, but not during my work day.”
It was not at all what I expected to hear him say. This man is a giver, offering a helping hand whenever someone asks, loaning money to friends, praying for his neighbors. What happened to the God-loving man I married?
With tears in my eyes, I phoned Cheryl with MY available dates. It was a long day of frustration and disappointment for me, trying to comprehend why Ken was so adamant against participating, after being eager to embrace the call to serve just hours before. I prayed for understanding.
God’s provoking answer slowly penetrated my mind.
The Holy Spirit made it clear to me that self-sacrifice doesn’t express itself in the same way for everyone. And it also doesn’t fit into everyone’s schedule at the same time. My husband showed his humanity in ways that worked for him, and just because he didn’t feel he could embrace my causes when I wanted him to, he was still the considerate man I married and loved.
On my knees later that night, I asked our Father’s forgiveness for my judging spirit and complaining heart before confessing to my husband and asking his forgiveness. Ken, like our Lord, was as gracious as ever in his unselfish understanding and acceptance of my plea, even though I didn‘t deserve it.
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