Robert & Roberta Adair

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My uncle’s birthday was on Monday (or Sunday US time?). I called him – pretty bummed that, once again, I didn’t get a card in the mail.

My uncle has a disability and often doesn’t make sense (at least to me. I think he makes perfect sense to himself – at least some of the time). We talked for almost 30 minutes, which is a new record for us. Some of the chat seemed to be a tangle of fantasy, illusion, and a few shadows of truth. I listened and said, “Ah, is that so?” and “How about that,” being the polite niecey that I am.

Then his voice changed. He asked me clearly how he can pray for me. I told him, honestly, that I get discouraged over not seeing fruit. That I occasionally question my call here. That I question whether people who sometimes seem to be so close to knowing Jesus will actually ever become disciples of him. That I am a bit weary. (what is it about talking with someone who has obvious chinks in his/her armor that allows me to so freely blubber out my doubts and such…?)

After listening to me blabber, he said something along the lines of: Don’t worry about the fruit. That’s God’s work. Jesus rested. You need rest, too. (This was on my supposed sabbath day but I wasn’t resting well…). Work. Rest. You need to trust God for the fruit. Then he said he’d keep praying for my language ability. I made what I considered to be a clever joke. Then he out-witted me with one of his own (even with his disability, he is one witty dude), and in doing so, I heard him communicate, “I believe in you, Niecey.”

I wish I didn’t let a few days pass between talking with him and writing this down. But I was encouraged. Convicted. Amazed at how clear his mind can still be at times even if for just a few minutes.

[connected memory: Shortly before moving to Japan, he called and asked if he could pray for me. He didn’t come to my wedding, he’s stood me/us up, he hangs up on me/us often, and I don’t know if he had ever called me.  Yet his prayer of blessing was awesome – not awesome because it was my uncle but by any definition awesome.  It was such a gift to catch a glimpse of my uncle as he once was and what he will be like again someday. He was clear. Articulate. Not speaking in riddles (which I usually enjoy – quintessential uncle) but plain and honest without fuzzy stories of fantasy. He “sent” me to Japan in a really touching way that I can only explain as the Holy Spirit using him.]

This doesn’t change the fact that my uncle occasionally embarrasses, disappoints, annoys, scares, confuses, and angers me – mostly over how he treats those who will never give up on him. Yet…

He acted as my pastor who reminded me of God’s will (“look up – not down”), my priest to whom I confessed my doubt and feelings of foolishness, my peer, my counselor. Then he drifted back into some place that didn’t make sense to me and I reverted to “Is that so? Really? I didn’t know that…” But I was so grateful for that chat and (brace yourselves for overused clichés…) for receiving so much more than I gave and for encouragement coming in an unexpected way (eye rolls, anyone? :).

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