Acceptance and Wide Open Spaces

*Acceptance and Wide Open Spaces is the third installment in The Serenity Prayer Series.

Grant me the serenity

         To accept the things I cannot change.

Three years ago my mother wrote me out of her will and gave all her legal rights to a man who wiped out her savings, sold her home, and took the money. Because she was still of sound mind I had no recourse. Now she’s dead broke and demented, living on government assistance in a surprisingly good nursing home. For thirty years I flew back and forth to Florida, bringing the grandkids to visit and taking us all to the shore. Through surgeries and rehab and the deaths of my father and stepdad I was there. I jumped through hoop after hoop to get her what she needed, and if she had only listened to me, she’d be closer and safer, not far away and scared. I prayed I’d be able to help care for her in her old age, but I’m financially unable to assist and legally powerless over her circumstances.

Why do things seem to work out so badly sometimes, even when we pray?

I don’t know. Jesus himself said, “In this life, you will have trouble.” (John 16:33a NIV) That guy could tell it like it was, and like it still is. I just know it stinks when the bad guys win and the good guys lose, and there’s nothing we can do to change it. Like the home team’s loss after the ump’s crummy call, we kick the dirt and grumble before turning out the lights and driving away.

Accepting the things I cannot change. What does that really mean? Is it simply resignation, or perhaps something more?

The skunk who ruined our family party cut me out of the loop, but the Lord intervened through a mutual friend who kept me updated on my mother’s situation. Considerable research revealed the cad had squandered every last cent, while retaining power of attorney. Prayer was my only recourse; acceptance brought my only peace. Every day I envisioned myself walking my mother and the ne’er-do-well to the Throne, letting go of their hands, and giving them over to God. I asked that He would keep my mother from living on the street. He did. I am still asking Him to heal the cad.

Accepting the things I cannot change not only frees my soul but gives God room to move in His mysterious ways, according to His unfailing love.

“Acceptance says, ‘True, this is my situation at the moment. I’ll look unblinkingly at the reality of it. But I’ll also open my hand to accept willingly whatever a loving Father sends me.”– Catherine Marshall, American author (1916-1983)

Originally I had hoped to move my mother into an assisted living facility close to my home, but God did not answer my prayer in the way I expected. However, against all odds, she is in good hands. I’m slowly learning that acceptance is a spacious place where God lives and works, even wider than the western Colorado sky. It still stinks when the bad guys win and the good guys lose; it always has, and it always will, until Christ comes again. Perhaps that’s why the apostle Paul wrote these words to the church at Philippi; words to comfort believers then and now:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:4-7 NIV)

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for accepting the hurt and worry I bring to the Throne; for answering my prayers in ways that work for my good and your glory. Help me trust that You will make all things right, in Your time. Amen!

©2011 Rachel Ophoff, Coconut Mountain Communications LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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