Fairly miserable weather withstanding, my trip to Chicago was fantastic. In some ways, it wasn’t what I expected it to be, but it was everything I could have hoped it would be. Much of what made it so worthwhile were the stories and revelations I came home with.
I rode the Megabus to and from Chicago through the night, so I slept for most of my traveling hours. About one hour prior to arriving, however, I woke up and knew I wouldn’t fall back asleep so I pulled out a book to read. This book was the very same as I started reading when Stephanie died — a book my mother had given her to read. Anyway, the gentleman next to me commented on how good the author is and asked me how long I’ve been a Christian. We then, as brothers in Christ, shared each of our stories (I stole more of the time, for which I hope he doesn’t mind). After exiting the bus, we prayed for each other and got in touch in order to stay in touch. What really amazed me through this event and the entire weekend is the providence of God. He most definitely got me to start reading that book in a way only God knows how. And, guilty though I felt about it, I have put off reading it for the past 6+ months only to end up pulling it out of my book bag at this very moment. My seat partner knew the author and struck up a conversation. He also chuckled because he had been praying to God that he would sit next to another Christian. God really does have a plan for everything, and it’s so exciting to watch.
Friday morning was a gorgeous day, and it gave me a chance to have a slow breakfast outside while reading some more. It was such a meaningful time between me and God, as He reassured me in so many ways through the words of this book. I feel compelled to share so much of it, but will save that for later. Suffice it to say, that I would highly recommend everyone read “When Life is Hard” by James MacDonald regardless of whether or not you’re going through something you would categorize as hard. The rest of Friday was just a day out in the city, enjoying the weather and beautiful flowers along Michigan Avenue. God even blessed me with some opportunities to talk to friends on the phone and be encouraged by them and be an encouragement to them. I can’t explain to you the joy I feel when people can come to me for advice and I can feel God speaking through me to them.
Sadly, the weather went downhill from 11am Friday until I left, but I ignored that as best I could. I basically got to enjoy my time alone and also time with family and friends who live there. As is becoming more commonplace, I go into these situations expecting my heart to be wrenched into a mess, and yet I come away surprised at how little or how not at all I cried. And it’s all thanks to God.
I also chatted with the maître d’hôtel, who was there last year as well. I recognized him immediately and he vaguely remembered me and Stephanie. (It’s nothing short of amazing that a year can go by and he remembers me.) That is just the kind of reason why we hoped to frequent the same hotel, and I am so thankful to God to have had a familiar face. We talked quite a bit before I left the hotel for the weekend, and it was so wonderful to be able to share with him what had happened and thank him genuinely for being there and being so kind and welcoming. I told him how much we both enjoyed him last year and how great it was to see him again.
One thing that has been on my mind for some time now is what to do with this blog. I often think no one is still reading, but the response to my posts from that week say otherwise. I obviously can’t spend the rest of my life just blogging about the death of my wife, nor do I want to. (Plus, I’m sure that wouldn’t do a whole lot of good for attracting a potential wife.) Anyway, God has reminded me of my spiritual gifts: exhortation, teaching, and shepherding. I’m certain I need to be using these gifts, and also certain that God has given me a place to do it. (Note to self: write more about how God has used a Computer Science major, a Bible minor, and a desire to disciple others all via one outlet.) So, as long as God continues to bless it and people are still willing to read, I hope to share my thoughts on God and life and how I think we should live. And with that, I hope there’s also some sort of discussion. I very much appreciate the comments of support for me, but would be infinitely more blessed by God teaching us all more about Him through each other.
Thanks again for being a part of this.