October 24, 2008

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Is God’s power perfected in our weaknesses?

Debra TomaselliSometimes our own character traits are a double-edged sword.

For instance, I am flexible—so flexible, in fact, that I am sometimes accused of being indecisive. Sometimes, like last Halloween, my dithering decisions rule.

My husband was out of town on business when Sara, our youngest daughter, drove home from cheerleading practice with a request.

“Can we go to Lynn’s house for dinner?” she asked. Our oldest daughter had invited us.

I shifted my feet, unwilling to admit that I wanted to stay home and distribute candy.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Do you want to?”

“Yes,” Sara shot back. “I’ll take a quick shower and we’ll go.”

“OK,” I said, halfheartedly.

I really wanted to stay home, visit my neighbors, admire the ballerinas and ghosts, and dispense candy. It was a tradition that I treasured.

But I wanted to make my daughters happy, too.

Indecision reigned.

As Sara hopped in the shower, I dumped miniature chocolates and assorted lollipops into an oversized bowl and placed it on the doorstep. But as I scrawled a note suggesting that trick-or-treaters help themselves to the sweets, I changed my mind.

“I’m not going,” I announced when Sara was ready to leave.

She urged me to go, but I explained my desire to personally deliver the treats.

“OK,” she said.

Moments later, Sara grabbed her car keys and headed to the garage. As the engine roared, I changed my mind and signaled to her to wait for me. But as I flicked on the porch light and locked the front door, I wavered.

“Go ahead,” I said. “I’m not going to go.”

Sara sighed and I watched, somewhat wistfully, as her vehicle’s taillights disappeared into the darkness.

I called Lynn to tell her that I wasn’t coming, and hung up with a sense of regret and yet another decision—I would join them for dinner, after all!

As I settled in for the solitary drive, I phoned my longtime friend, Gloria. We chuckled about my nonsense, which resulted in two cars traveling separately to the same destination and me missing Halloween at my house as if it were a grave mistake.

Then Gloria, who was recently widowed, told me how happy she was that I phoned. She had received a promotion at work that day and wanted to tell someone, but she didn’t know who to call. Mourning the death of her husband, she felt her loss in a painful way when she couldn’t share the news with him.

“Your call was like an answer to prayer,” Gloria said. “It’s like God used you to reach me at just the perfect moment when I needed it most.”

And I wondered … Could our weaknesses play a role in God’s greater plan?

After all, I wouldn’t have phoned Gloria had I stayed home to distribute candy. I wouldn’t have phoned her had I traveled with Sara.

It had to be as it was—a goofy, mixed-up, belated decision to go, resulting in my solo travel. And, unbeknownst to me, with exact timing, it prompted me to contact, of all people, my friend, Gloria—right when she needed it most.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her e-mail address is dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

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