OPINION

OKIE IN EXILE — Testing

Bobby Neal Winters
Bobby Winters

When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

— Matthew 8:14-15

My online Bible Study Group has been going through the book of Matthew. We did the Lord’s Prayer as a part of that; it took us three weeks and we could’ve done more but the teacher told us we had to go on.

Those of you who know the Lord’s Prayer know the line “lead us not into temptation.” This always causes discussion. How could God lead us into temptation?

One answer is this: The word translated as “temptation” can also be translated as “testing.”

But what does “testing” mean?

My wife’s mother is very sick and has been so since the day after Christmas. I’ve not written about it until now because she’s a private person and never seeks to call attention to herself. She always very quietly does what needs to be done. She is very much like Peter’s mother-in-law. If she were healed right now, she would get up and start serving people.

Because of her illness, our lives have changed. Jean, my wife, is living with her mom now and has been since she got out of the hospital. We are lucky that Jean’s mother only lives two blocks from us.

She moved to town two months after my second daughter was born almost thirty years ago. She has been a godsend to us. She helped when our second daughter was a baby and our third one. She’s helped with the grandsons. At the same time, she helped in her church, she helped with the Red Cross, she helped in random ways. No one asked her to do anything; she just did it.

Her life has been a witness to those around her. Then she got sick.

The members of her church have sent her cards. Nobody asked them; they just did. Her neighbor girl has reached out and helped in numerous ways. Nobody asked her; she just did.

Jean is there with her, doing for her mother the things her mother has done for us. Nobody asked her; she just did.

The order of the family has changed. Jean’s mom, who used to take care of all of us, must now be cared-for herself, and Jean, my wife, her daughter, is doing that.

Now my daughters and I must care for Jean. Nobody asked us; we just did.

There has been a reordering. We reordered my mother-in-law’s living room into a hospital room. We reordered my kitchen and pantry from something only my wife could understand to something the rest of us could understand.

We are raised by our parents and we raise our children. We always wonder if we’ve done a good job. Did we raise our children to be adults? Will they be good people?

My dad never got to know; my mom did a little.

My mother-in-law knows for sure, and my wife and I do too.

Would we have wanted this to happen? No. We pray that it doesn't every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, just as Jesus taught us to pray. The time of testing comes regardless. The time of testing is built-in to the fabric of life itself.

We ready ourselves for it the best we can. Sometimes we have a good example to follow.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.