A family became good friends with a man who had a career with the father. Having lost his only sister recently, he became almost like an uncle to the two children. He was invited to most of the family occasions and was always present to support the children in any significant event in their life.
As the younger child grew up she focused more on herself than others, and became quite impatient with any inconvenience to her. The family friend advised her gently to consider others and their concerns important, but she ignored this comment. When the remark started to bother her she decided it was not her fault. She told her parents that the family friend made her ‘uncomfortable’ and they took that very seriously. The two men maintained a friendship, but he was no longer invited to family events.
The girl became a young woman and left for college and dormitory life. While there she encountered the family friend who was involved in a new building project at the college for several days. The college town was far enough from home that she rarely saw a friend and felt homesick. Thrilled to see a familiar face, she sought to rekindle the relationship. The man, she found, was not as eager to follow suit and in fact seemed quite uncomfortable talking with her. She urged and begged that he meet her for dinner that evening and chastised him for not being present at her high school graduation.
With reservation the man agreed, but only for a quick bite at a local fast food restaurant that was quite busy. Anxious to know more about the man’s activities and what he had done while away from their family, the young lady asked many questions. He could barely eat because she kept him talking and explaining things that were really none of her concern. She interjected stories of her years in high school and the successes she had and he seemed happy for her. Now that she saw a smile, she found the nerve to ask if he was happier now that he wasn’t a part of their lives. At this question, he simply wiped his mouth and looked at her.
The unreadable expression on his face made her pause. It was a terrible question and one that there was no good answer to. She found that there was nothing more to say, she knew why he had been dismissed from their family. No amount of pretending or carefully worded hints that he had been remiss would take that away. He had left their close-knit family because of her choice of words. She knew it, and that she was responsible for this moment of awkward silence because she could not find a way to make a proper apology.
Being a naturally chatty young lady, she struggled with a silent table greatly. She kept thinking of ways to start the conversation again, but nothing seemed right. Twice she opened her mouth and then shut it again. The time away from her friends and all that she knew had been difficult, and she had no hope of that changing. Staring at the table, she noticed the family friend’s work worn hands. Hands she had once known quite well as a trusted friend who taught her chess and how to build a birdhouse. Hands that had clapped for her at every softball game without fail. Remembering those moments, she wished she could somehow take back her words about him.
Finally, she hung her head and let the tears of regret trickle down. A valuable friend had been treated unfairly, and were she on the other side of that friendship she would have been quite angry about it, she realized. She wondered if he was angry with her, and asked in a subdued voice. Swallowing, the man admitted he had been very hurt for a while, then sad to see the friendship with her father dwindle to distant friends. He had new friends and new interests now and that was over with, he finished. She was surprised and relieved when a few words of regret and an awkward apology were accepted without reservation.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
In this story I wanted to reflect on forgetting someone dependable.
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
In Matthew 4:7 Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:16 but uses test rather than tempt. The verse is a warning not to repeat the past. It made reference to Massah, a place named after the behavior of the Israelites who had just miraculously been given manna and quail to eat. When things got hard they said “Is the Lord with us or not”. Even though they had a lot of proof He was, still they jumped to complaining. Testing and tempting can be very different words. If either is used with God it implies a lack of trust. So that leads to the question, how can we not determine if God exists and is trustworthy without doing just that? If we don’t know God is real, isn’t it reasonable to ask God to show Himself and determine if He is trustworthy?
I suggest it’s possible without crossing the line into testing or tempting God. First, if we seek honestly to know if there is a creator without using our own agenda in that seeking. That is discovery or wondering, and is different from willful testing/tempting. Second, we look at who God has revealed Himself to be, looking at the character and traits to see if they are consistent and trustworthy. Again, the intent is not to make our will be done, but instead to know and understand. Finally, we review what it is in our lives that may help us see God has been at work, that God is real. That involves remembering little miracles and close calls that if we are honest can’t be dismissed as coincidence. This leads to recognition in God’s possible trustworthiness. That leads to actually reaching out to this creator, the start of a relationship.
In the process of honest discovery of God and who He is, there is another point that must be reckoned with. As much as we may want a loving but powerful God; we want God to look past our own failings, because even standards we set we fall short on. If God’s character was only mercy and love, He would be blind to justice and inconsistent. Jesus is the answer and provides that consistency because justice is satisfied while mercy is granted. Please know, this is not meant to be a flippant answer, it is a deep thought to ponder. Challenging God is not unheard of, it is common. Jesus gives us a different view, He is not expecting God to show up or prove anything, instead just the opposite. Oh that I would have the faith to remember the times of confidence in God when I have those moments of difficulty…