Jeremy and I drove up to see Michael at Rehab this afternoon. And while it’s always good to get to see Michael and to spend time with him, my heart felt heavy and sad as I listened to Sally share a few of the struggles he was currently having. It’s been such a long and hard road for Michael. There have been many, many ups and downs and this has been so difficult for him, his family and for those who care about him.
Seeing our loved ones go through difficult times or even going through them ourselves can be so discouraging. And at times, it can bring us to sad and dark and lonely places in our lives. But I’ve learned that nothing much good happens in these places. And for me, it’s very hard to see God when I’m only looking at the challenges in front of me. So when I find myself here, I’ve learned that it often helps to step back and to see the bigger picture. And if you’ve followed Michael’s story, you know that there is indeed a much bigger picture and it’s one that is full of faith and hope and love.
The bigger picture includes the impact that Michael had on so many. This picture was taken a few years ago, during one of our Operation Christmas Child shopping trips. Michael was always such a good friend and influence to others, and especially to these two. Funny thing, is that I saw both of these kids last night at our Youth Group. And they are both still so amazing and destined for great things, I believe. Carson’s remained such a faithful friend to Michael and without fail always asks how he’s doing whenever we see him. And Brian has really stepped up to lead this year in both our Youth Group and our after school program, Hangtime, as well. And I have no doubt that they were definitely influenced by their friendship and by the example that they saw in Michael.
The bigger picture also shows that throughout this past year there have been hundreds and possibly thousands of prayers said for Michael and his family. It’s a normal thing to wonder where God is when bad things happen to good people, but it only takes a little bit of looking to realize that in Michael’s case (and in many other cases), He’s continued to be there all along. I’ve personally seen first hand the ways that God’s worked in and through Michael’s loved ones as well as his family and friends and our community. People have committed to praying for Michael daily and I’m sure in many ways this has drawn them closer to their faith and to God and this is something that is so good and so needed as well.
Speaking of our community, so many have stepped up to love and serve the Einfeldts in many incredible ways. One that is ongoing is in the “Meals 4 March and April” campaign that we started. We put out a message on our Team Einfeldt Facebook page, and within a few hours had families happily volunteer to bring the Einfeldts a few meals each week to help them out. The incredible Turano family is bringing them a meal this evening and I know this will be a great blessing for them.
The bigger picture also shows people using their God given talents and abilities to do something good for others. Our brother in law, Matt, drew this incredible picture for Michael last year. He heard about his accident and wanted to do something to help. When Michael moved from the Upstate Rehab back to Long Island, Matt’s picture somehow got left behind. Our friend Dodie (who lives Upstate but comes back to visit) brought this and a few other paintings back and we were able to bring them up to Michael for his new room today. When I handed the frames to Sally she stopped on this one and said how much she loved it. And in case you were wondering the story behind it, Matt used Aslan (from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) as his inspiration. When he was drawing it, he shared this quote from the book:
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight.
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more.
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have Spring again.”
It’s powerful and true, right?
And finally, this gem helped complete my big picture focus today. A friend named Alicia shared it on our Team Einfeldt page and said, “ESM wind ensemble and concert choir is keeping mike in our hearts and on our shirts!!” The heart in the middle with the drum sticks and Michael’s initials made tears come to my eyes at the kind gesture that the ESM Wind Ensemble added in honor of him.
At times, it’s easy to focus on the difficulties of life. Especially on rainy and dreary days like today. But it’s always a choice. And choosing better would be stepping back and seeing the bigger picture. Yes, Michael continues to need our love and prayers, especially for the medical challenges that he continues to face. But when we step back, we can continue to know that God is working good, even in the hard and difficult times. People are doing good and loving and serving and there is so much beauty in these gestures. And when the focus is on the bigger picture, the gratitude seems to come a bit easier. Gratitude for those things that draw us closer and deeper in our faith. Gratitude that good and love covers up some of the hard times and changes our focus in a positive way.
Thank you for continuing to follow Michael’s journey. Please continue prayers for Michael and prayers for his medical needs. Please pray for comfort and for peace for this incredible young man. And please keep looking for the good and serving one another in love because this is the best way to live out this hard and beautiful life.