Do you ever consider how many crossroads we come to in our lifetime? Choices we need to make that can alter our lives in huge ways...or not so huge. Like Yogi Berra was known to say, "When you get to the fork in the road, take it." Ah, but therein lies the dilemma: which one do we take? Sometimes the indicators, like when we made the decision to move 2400 miles from all we'd ever known living in the Pacific Northwest to the Detroit area...the path before us was so clear it's a wonder it didn't reach out and slap us in the face. In almost 66 years of living I've come to a lot of crossroads. I've made a lot of choices that have impacted my life in a lot of ways, some wise and some really stupid. But all my life I'm one who gets up off the ground, pulls up my boot straps, and moves on. I try not to let the truly stupid decisions I've made affect the rest of my life. There are life lessons tucked away in every nook and cranny of our decisions and as I look back and examine them, a lot of the stupid choices bob to the surface. This time, though, I can take what I've learned from them and apply them to where my life is in the here and now. I once wrote a letter to myself on my blog from the perspective at the age of 50, I believe it was, to my 20 year old self -- or thereabouts. Oh, if only we had the wisdom and maturity we have at 50 to help us make decisions at the age of 20! So I wrote a letter telling myself not to sweat the little things, to focus on the moment so that when the big things come along we're prepared. As prepared as we can be. I never dreamed that at the age I am now the lines of human decency would become so blurred. The choices so muddled and confusing. God help my grandchildren. I shudder to think what their futures will be like and how the fork in the road is going to become even more blocked by tangled branches for them to cut their way through.
Recently I've been faced with a whole new fork in the road. Both of my parents have been dead for quite a while. My mom was 61 and my dad was 83 at the times of their deaths. You go through the various degrees of grief and move on. Now it's getting down to my generation: my oldest brother has just been diagnosed with Stage IV liver cancer that has metastasized to his pancreas. With chemo he might live a year, without chemo 4-6 months. I'm not sure how I'm dealing with this emotionally so far. My main concern is seeing him make it to Heaven. I wish it was clear cut and I knew without a doubt that he's ready to meet God but I'm not. Oh, he can talk the talk and spout scripture like a Bible scholar. But to say he walks the walk...well, that's where I start thinking he's on shaky ground. But that is not for me, my brother, and God to figure out in the preparations needed. It is totally between him and God. Yet the uneasiness and uncertainty I feel is eating me alive. I am a Bible-believing Christian and though so many "Christians" nowadays leave Christ out of Christianity -- they look for "the Power within them" and figure they're going to enter Heaven on their feel-good beliefs -- that's not what I read in my Bible, and I have read it through several times. I don't want this to be a theological discussion. I just want my brother to really search his heart and take care of any loose ends. Now is not the time for him to neglect broken relationships and devastating hurt he's caused in the lives of his children and grandchildren. Do you see what I'm trying to say? I'm not being his judge, I'm just concerned...deeply concerned. He posted something on his Facebook page that gave ne pause, talking about how he and his wife have had to face persecution and abandonment by family for their beliefs. In every life-drama they're always the victims...they can not see the forest for the trees and how their decisions, their "Christian parenting," have been done from their interpretations, not Scripture itself, and they have done a lot of serious damage. I think their kids and grandkids are going to have to dig their way through a lot of mixed emotions and bitterness to find forgiveness in their hearts.
He's 6 years older than me and we have never been close. I do love him because he is my brother. I know in my heart when my time comes to "walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death" I will focus on any righteous feelings I have about my life and ask the Lord to search me and see if there's anything else I need to make right. Not focus on how righteous I think I am. I'm very afraid that's where my brother stands at the fork in the road he faces now. Oh, Lord...my fervent prayer is that he steps off onto the right path.