Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. – Hebrews 13:2 (NKJV)
I was 34, a mother to 3 young children and widowed. I felt too young for widowhood to be my new normal. There had been such a surge of encouraging people in the very beginning. Donations flooded in paying for the funeral cost, flowers, food, cards and comforting words about God’s promises to the fatherless and the widow surrounded us. I was often left with the words, if you ever need anything, call me. It all felt short-lived. I knew they all had good intentions but people, life, moves on. They seemed to expect me to do so almost as quickly. I think that is the saddest part of grief. It feels as if the world has stopped turning. That it should stop turning. But it doesn’t. I watched the normalcy shuffle on all around us. Life moved on as if nothing had happened while I seemed stuck in a suspended state of grief.
I put on my “happy” face and I tried keeping up. Afterall life had continued. Bills still needed to be paid. The kids still needed three square meals a day and as much normalcy as I could muster up. The house and laundry still had to be cleaned. Then there was the yard work. As stereotypical as it may sound, yardwork was always my husband’s chore. I had forgotten that too would now be up to me.
The grass had grown so much in the weeks since the funeral. I had attempted to do it but had been unable to decipher the odd repairs my husband had made on our lawnmower. I asked my neighbor if he would help. He had said he would for an over priced fee that sounded like highway robbery. I couldn’t afford that. Money was tight, so tight that the poverty line was now more of a goal line to be achieved. I decided I would conquer the yard work.
I began my task by checking the oil and filling the lawnmower up with gas. I primed it. I looked for the choke. Hmm. I noticed this odd round knob. I think it was the handle to an outside spigot. My husband had obviously rigged this clumsy machine up with whatever parts he had lying around. I was determined to prove to myself, my neighbors, anyone who happened to notice my jungle of a yard that I can do this. I can overcome this situation and take care of myself and the kids.
I turned the knob to the right and I pulled. I pulled and pulled. Nothing. I turned it to the left and yanked the pull cord again. I pulled and yanked that silly cord and still nothing. I twisted the knob to the center and I put everything I had into pulling that cord. I pulled and pulled. Still, nothing. I redid this over and over again. I rechecked the oil. I made sure the spark plug was good. I just couldn’t figure out the right position of that stupid knob. This was messing me up. I had a point to prove to myself. I can do this!
I tried repeatedly to start the lawnmower. I was a hot sweaty mess but no amount of effort started that machine. My failure to cut the grass somehow began representing so much more. A deep fear that I wouldn’t be able to do this, any of this, alone. I yelled and kicked the lawnmower. I recomposed myself and then I prayed over it. I tried starting it again. I twisted the knob to the left and repeatedly yanked the pull cord. I turned the knob to the right. I pulled and pulled. Nothing. I did this until there wasn’t any strength left in me and I screamed. A primal cry poured out of my very soul. Falling to my knees I shook my hands to the heavens and yelled, “I can’t do this! I can’t do this, ALONE. I thought You said in Your word You would be a husband to the widow, Lord! I have news, for you, my husband would be cutting this grass!” It was ugly and it was raw. I cried and wailed until I was empty. I had wasted hours and all I had managed to do was enter an angry phase of grief. Tears continued to fall as I emotionally limped back into the house.
Defeated and feeling horrible that I had yelled at God, I proceeded to get ready for an afternoon appointment. My mother in law had arrived to tend to everything while I was gone. I gave her the run down on how long the kids had been napping and who would need what once they awoke. I headed out the door. I sat in the driveway for a second looking at my unkempt yard. I missed my husband. I had so much regret for having taken all the little things he did for granted.
I quietly prayed all the way to and then from my appointment. I pulled into the driveway and was stunned. I looked at my watch. I had been gone a little over 2 hours. I hadn’t been gone that long and yet I returned to find my yard was perfect. The sidewalk had been edged, bushes clipped and the grass was cut. I couldn’t believe it. My mother in law was at the front door. My outstretched arm spanned across the yard and all I could do was ask, “how?” She proceeded to tell me that as soon as I had left an older man knocked on the door. He asked if he could do some yard work. She told him we couldn’t afford to pay for that. She went on to tell me that he said that was okay. All he wanted in exchange for his hard work was a sandwich and a tall glass of iced tea. I was floored. This stranger had asked for the same thing my husband would have wanted. All I could do was thank God. So many things ran through my mind. Who was that man who showed up at my door? I wondered if my mother in law had entertained an angel unaware? Whoever that stranger was he ministered so much to my broken heart. God has so many promises for us in His word and He is not a man that He can lie. He keeps His promises. I know because he showed me even when I didn’t deserve to be shown.
For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth. For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, Like a youthful wife when you were refused,”Says your God. – Isaiah 54:5-6