The Numbness of Sorrow

I received a phone call this morning that has made me numb.  Even though I knew the call would be coming the information it brought hit hard, my mother has died.

I have been praying (along with other family members both spiritual and physical) for my mother to have an easy passing.  She had cancer return that had settled in her bones.  The terminal diagnosis was given just a few months ago.  I have been praying for a painless, easy death.  God did answer my prayer.  I was told that she was in no pain as she left this world for the one to come.  I do believe God has brought her into the promised peace and rest that God gives.

The news brought tears and cries of anguish.  This was a release I needed.  Still, there is a numbness in sorrow.

My mother had a fairly hard life.  She was one of several children in a family that was abandoned by their father.  Mom’s mom worked hard to raise the children.  Granny Clay, as we knew her, had a hunchback that was the result of an illness.   Though mom and Granny had some strong disagreements, they loved each other very much.  When Granny died, it deeply wounded my mother.  This grief never left her.

Mom was blessed (or cursed) with exceptional beauty.  She married young.  When she became pregnant her husband, my biological father, wanted her to have an abortion.  She did not.  They got a divorce.  Then 58 years and 89 days ago she gave birth to her first born, David Keith Hogue.  For the first four years of my life I was raised by a single mom and relatives.  Then mom remarried the man who would become dad to me, Siegfred Montoya.  Dad adopted me and this is how I came by the name Montoya.  The relationship between mom and dad was a rocky one.  There was a lot of verbal abuse and other abuse that eventually lead to a divorce and dad’s suicide.  A few years after their divorce and my dad’s death, my half brother also committed suicide.  Mom would never recover from this.

When I was very young, mom took me to church a couple of times.  When we moved to Baker, Oregon she sent me to church (I was in second grade) but the family did not attend.  Later, when we moved to Payson, Arizona where we did attend church a few times.  We were not a religious family, but  I do know my mother believed in God.

I was not a “church kid”.   However, God was with me and guided me to an understanding of his love and forgiveness.  The journey was arduous but God was patient.   I got into a lot of trouble as a teenager and into my early twenties.  When God did call me to serve most of the family thought it was fake.  My mother did not.  I don’t think she was pleased at first but later in life she was proud to tell others that her son was a “minister” (mom would not use the term preacher).  She came twice to hear me preach.  Both times she came forward at the invitation.  My mother had a relationship with God.  I believe she had a saving faith.

Because of all the conflicts, mistakes, problems, and tragedies of our family, we have never been close.  My half-sister and her husband have become part of a group that holds to “new age” beliefs.  My sister’s husband has been “ordained” in a new age “church”.  Mom wanted to have the two of us (my sister’s husband and myself) conduct her funeral.  I cannot fulfill her wishes.  I do believe in the universal (catholic) church and also believe in dialog with other faiths (salvation is up to God not me), but I cannot participate in this service.  I have struggled with this and am convinced that for me to do so would put a stamp of approval on what I know to be a deception.  God has given me a peace about not participating.  Also, my involvement in the service would only lead to hard feelings and anger from other family members and would a test of patience I am not sure I would pass.  Yes, there is a numbness of sorrow in my soul on this day.

I am so thankful for grace of God.  I am so thankful for the spiritual comfort and strength our Lord provides.  I live in the hope of Jesus Christ.  I do believe I will see my mother again at the Great gathering that is to come.  I also know the numbness I feel today will pass.  There will be more tears.  There will be the work of grief.  I do know that the peace of God that transcends all understand will grow in place of the pain and the numbness of sorrow.  As for today, mine is the numbness of sorrow.

TGIF or HGIF Lent Day 3

Amos 5:13  Therefore, the wise person will keep silent at such a time, for the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:15-16  Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk– not as unwise people but as wise–  making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

Thank God it’s Friday, TGIF.  This phase is has been adopted by many in this country as an expression of derision or exasperation toward how they make a living.  It is even the theme taken by a restaurant chain.  The cultural custom of a 40 hour work week from Monday to Friday is seen by many as something to be endured, especially if a person finds their occupation to be meaningless, unappreciated, boring, overly taxing or stressful.  Thank God it is Friday because the weekend is near!

Work is important.  God is not pleased with slothfulness, laziness.  Work is not a necessary evil but a way in which humanity is to build contributing, continuing community that promotes cooperation and care in our journey through life.  Work is about needs and responsibilities.

But enters evil, selfishness, and delusion that promotes the idea that we live for the material.  Work then becomes a means of supporting the consumer mindset that worships at the alter of I want rather than we need.  Work produces products, produces produce profits and profits allow pleasures and power.

Lent is a time of counter-cultural behavior.  In the season of Lent we embrace self-denial.  In Lent we seek to bring life under the supervision of Jesus.  In Lent, we are prepared to face THE FRIDAY that comes.  In Lent we are called to look at our world through the eyes of Scripture and the relationship we have with God.  In Lent we seek to steady ourselves against the onslaught of a corrupted culture.  In Lent, TGIF becomes HGIF (Help God I Falter).  If we embrace our call to carry our cross, to be salt and light, and to be the presence of Jesus, then our work is not defined by our occupation.  Our work is not about our making a living but being a living witness in the midst of the evil in which we live.

When we are seeking the good of our God, no task becomes purposeless, no job to menial or boring, for our orientation is not the pursuit of profit and pleasure, but the joy of service and then TGIF is transformed to Thank God In Faith.

Amos 5:14  Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and the LORD, the God of Hosts, will be with you, as you have claimed.

Ephesians 5:17   So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Ephesians 5:19-21  speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music to the Lord in your heart,  giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

*Verses are from the NIV.