As much as I enjoy going on vacation - and have the real need to get away - that does not necessarily make it easy. This year, the week before we were set to leave, two friends were put into palliative/hospice care. A few others I have known for a long time were ill and/or hospitalized. And now yesterday I received word that two other significant people were being placed into hospice - and have since received a call that one was called home early this morning.

The decision to go away almost always faces similar challenges. The challenge has nothing to do with the people who keep things going while I am gone. I know they are doing an excellent job ... and facing more things than I am listing here. So where is the problem?

The problem is with me, and my dislike of many of the decisions my God makes. I do not like it that he is allowing these people to be in hospice ... and especially at this time. I don't like it that I am not with them these days. I don't like his timing because ...

Dr. Martin Luther, as he explains the First Commandment, states, "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things." He goes on to say that if we would ever get this right, we would not have trouble with any of the other commandments. And he is exactly right. My problem with what is going on while I am away is that God has not consulted me on the decisions he is making. The problem is I do not trust God as I ought.

"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7.24-25) Wow! There is the entire message of scripture in three short phrases. A wretched man I am! I cannot save myself! I do not need to save myself ... God has already done it in Christ Jesus my Lord!

The sad story is, even having known this virtually my entire life, I still fight him. I still question his love, and his decision making, and his timing. I still don't trust him as I ought. My attitude and behavior - that is, my faith and trust in him - may show some signs of maturity at times, but my default setting remains at "wretched man."

The glad story is that my ongoing stupidity (that's really what it is, isn't it?) does not change God's decision to love me, forgive me ... to "rescue me from this body of death!" By his grace in Christ Jesus, my default setting is no longer my true identity. "We were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we toO may walk in newness of life." (Romans 6.4) My true identity is not found in my behavior or level of trust ... it is found in Jesus' blood and righteousness!

Oh, I know life would be much easier if I would simply "fear, love, and trust in God above all things," but that's not who I am ... that's not the decision that I choose to make day in and day out. WAIT ONE MINUTE! That is who I am - and who you are - for in our baptism into Christ God has decided to make us new! And that is a decision that HE is eternally firm in, no matter how our attitude or behavior may fight it.

Wow! That is one heavenly decision!