Kayla’s Story, an Allegory: Chapter 8 Opening the Letters

The huge pile of brown dirt loomed before her, taunting her, daring her to climb it one more time. Kayla stared at it, looking for signs of her previous painful descent. Other than some loose dirt at the base of the pile, Kayla could see nothing but smooth, inviting dirt. It was as if she had never crossed that deceptive mound before. But her limp and the brown smudges that covered her clothing told her otherwise. No matter how safe it looked, she knew all too well how dangerous it really was, and she was not going to make the same mistake again. And yet, she still had to get to the other side in order to get home.

Kayla considered her options.

The mound of the dirt spilled over the curb and into the gutter. To get around it, she would have to walk out onto the busy street. The distance was short so it wouldn’t take long, even with her limp, but she would be in constant danger every step of the way. Even if she stayed as close to the curb as possible, distracted or careless drivers frequently veered off the road, sometimes scraping the curb before pulling back into their lane. If that were to happen while she was walking in the gutter, she would be pinned between the car and the dirt pile – not a risk she wanted to take.

She could cross the street and walk on the grassy area that ran along the other side, which was safer but would require crossing four lanes of heavy traffic, not once but twice. She couldn’t imagine how she could achieve that with a limp slowing her down. A pedestrian crosswalk about two blocks away would provide a safe way to cross but would add four blocks to her walk, and she’d be no closer to home. Not something she wanted to consider with a twisted ankle.

So how was she going to find a way past this giant obstacle when it seemed there was no way? Looking back at the dirt pile, she could feel it calling out to her. Come on up. The dirt has settled and is safe now. You’ll be able to handle it this time. Nothing will happen to you. It makes more sense to climb over than to go the extra distance to avoid the climb. Don’t be scared. Just because you got hurt one time doesn’t mean you’ll get hurt this time. Besides, other people do it and nothing happens to them. Kayla considered the tightly packed dirt. It did seem safe. Maybe this time she could climb it without falling. She knew the problem had been at the top, so maybe if she crawled across the top instead of standing, she’d be okay.

But what if she wasn’t? What if this time it collapsed under her weight and more than just her leg got trapped? What if she got buried alive, and no one saw noticed?  Or worse, cared? She could die in there.

Discouraged, not knowing what to do, she sat down. If only the maintenance department had done their job and removed this hindrance already. Too bad they hadn’t while she had been on her way to the park, but then her trip to the park had been aborted. Maybe they hadn’t had the time. Or maybe they didn’t see it as a hazard. Regardless of the reason, the obstacle was still there.

Thinking of the park made her think of Lisa. Should she take her up on her offer to help? She knew Lisa had a car and might be willing to come pick her up. A ride home sounded extremely nice right now. But Lisa might still be working at the park. If she wasn’t, the long hours of picking up trash may have worn her out and she might be napping. And, Kayla had to admit, she felt too guilty to ask anything of Lisa until she apologized for her judgmental thoughts. Her apology might seem manipulative if she ended it by asking for a favor. No, she couldn’t ask Lisa. What about Larry and Buster? They had asked if she needed a ride. But no, she had already intruded enough into their day. Who else did she know?

Shifting position as she considered her short list of friends, she felt her backpack dig uncomfortably into her back. She removed it, placed it on the ground in front of her, and gingerly placed her aching ankle on it, hoping elevating her ankle would ease the pain. She expected her foot to sink into the almost emptiness of the backpack, but instead, the backpack held firm under the weight. Something inside the pack must be holding it up. What did she have in there? A couple of water bottles,  some makeup, a bag of trail mix, and…the letters. She had forgotten about them. Since she wasn’t going anywhere soon, this would be a great time to read them.

With a few groans, she pulled the backpack closer, removed a large handful of letters and a bottle of water, and repositioned the bag under her ankle. Opening the bottle, she took a sip of water, then another. The refreshing sensation of the soothing water down her dry esophagus was amazing and her sips quickly became gulps until the bottle was empty. Sighing with satisfaction, she replaced the cap, set the bottle on the ground, and picked up the stack of letters.

The first few were from her father. Opening each, she found similar messages of love and desire to see her in each one. “I love you and always will.” “When are you going to call me?” “I think of you every day.” “I love you more than you can imagine.” “I’m eagerly waiting for your response.” “Come see me soon and I’ll treat you to lunch.”

Kayla felt bad. Ever since she had moved out of state, she had tried to remember to call him from time to time, but for some reason never made the time to go see him. She had thought he was busy with his own life and didn’t care all that much about hers. True, he was always excited to hear from her, but she thought that was just momentary, and that as soon as she hung up, he got busy with something else. But these letters were painting a different picture. Did he really think of her daily? Did he really love her as much as his letters said? Tears welled in her eyes as she thought of the pain he must feel by her mostly indifferent attitude towards him. Not indifference, exactly. She did love him, and enjoyed her time with him, but, well, life just seemed to demand so much of her time and energy that she didn’t have enough left over to share with him. She pulled the rest of his letters from the pile and set them at her side, feeling too convicted to continue reading them. As soon as she got home, she would call him. Right after she called Lisa.

Flipping through the other letters, she recognized the names of a variety of friends, but one particular one stopped her. Memories came flooding back as she stared at Paul’s name. They had once been very close, spending much time hanging out together. It had been a strictly platonic relationship, but very deep. They talked for hours about life, and his wisdom had helped her more than once to negotiate around some tricky situations. She regretted now that she had allowed time and the stress of daily life to put a distance between them. She noticed the forwarding message her father had written across the envelope, and made a mental note to thank him when she called him.

Continuing to flip through the mail, she found other forwarded letters from Pete, Matt, Jonathan, and Phil. She smiled as she saw their names. Good memories warmed her heart as she remembered the hours they had spent together discussing important topics. When the other girls were more concerned with trivial matters, these guys shared her hunger for deeper things. Why had they gone their separate ways after graduation? Or had it just been her that had gone a different way?

The rest of the letters were from some current friends. Kayla looked at them, confused. These friends frequently sent her messages through social media so why would they write to her? Come to think of it, she hadn’t gotten many messages lately. What was up with that? Maybe the letters would explain but first she wanted to see what her old friends were up to. Pulling their letters from the stack, she began opening them.

Most expressed fond memories of their talks, reminders of the many lessons they had learned, regret for allowing their friendship to fade, and an invitation to renew their relationship. Several told of new adventures and life events. A few asked that she call them. A few even gave her warnings about staying true to what she believed. But every one of them mentioned her father in some way or other. “I loved how attentive he was, not only to you, but to me whenever I stopped by.” “His love for the flowers in his greenhouse was amazing.” “He always gave the best advice.” “Say hi to him for me.”

Nostalgia for her friends fought with renewed guilt as she thought of how long it had been since she had called her father. Maybe she should call him right now. No, first she should read the rest of his letters. He might ask about them. She picked up the small stack of letters and slowly opened them, expecting the weight of her guilt to increase with each one. She wasn’t disappointed.

Dear Kayla,

I hope this letter finds you well. I miss our talks late into the night. Call me when you get the chance.

Love always,

Dad

Dear Kayla,

I know we have been out of touch but I think of you every day. I love you. If you need anything, you know how to reach me.

Love you bunches,

Dad

Dear Kayla,

Remember when we used to talk about how some people were too tied up with their own concerns to think about bigger, more important issues? I hope that’s not happening to you. A call from you would be great reassurance.

Much love,

Dad

Dear Kayla,

Word has come to me that things aren’t going too well for you. Please call me. I would be delighted if you would allow me to help you a way through your difficulties. With all my experience, I’m sure we could fix things quickly.

All my love,

Dad

Dear Kayla,

Please call me. We have some important issues to discuss.

Love as always,

Dad

Kayla’s hands gripped the letters to her chest as she allowed fresh tears to spill down her cheeks. She could feel his steady love through these letters in spite of her own lack of response. He may have been busy with other things, but one thing was clear. She was still a priority to him. From her earliest memories, he had always been there for her – guiding her when she was confused, entertaining her when she was bored, teaching her what was important, comforting her when she was hurt, and caring about what she cared about. He listened to every complaint she made, provided everything she needed and more, and sat up with her all night whenever she was sick. He gave her security both when life was good and when it seemed to fall apart. Just because she had moved away physically didn’t mean she had to distance him in her heart as well. And it was painfully obvious to her that the distancing had been one-sided. He loved her so much, and she only gave back a token of that love. Kayla bowed her head over the letters, and gave in to her grief.

After what seemed like hours, something began to grown in her mind. A puzzling thought. How did her father know of her problems? She had not told him the times she had called. And none of her current friends knew her father. So how had he known something wasn’t right? Was it his great love for her? She had to find out.

Paying no attention to her ankle’s objection, she pulled her backpack close enough to dig out her phone. It took three tries for her trembling fingers to dial the familiar number, and she held her breath as she listened for the call to go through.

It was answered on the first tone.


Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (Ps 36:5)

Mary’s Heart in Martha’s Body

She couldn’t go back to sleep. Why did they say that? Did they think her friend loved Jesus more than she did? And here she was carrying the greater load in serving them? It was totally upsetting and hurtful to her and she resented them for it.

To be honest, she didn’t really get that bible story anyway. If Martha didn’t serve, who would? Certainly not Mary, who didn’t even lift a finger to help. Actually, she had always thought of Mary as being lazy and self-centered – she wanted to spend time with Jesus so she did, not caring in the least that she had left everything for her sister to carry. Forcing her sister to carry more than she should have had to carry. If Mary had stayed with Martha to help finish the preparations, they both could have sat at Jesus’ feet.

And she was being called a Martha? Like she would rather stay in the kitchen serving than be with Jesus? Like she didn’t love Him enough to want to spend time with Him?

She still didn’t get it – but what she did get was a revelation of her resentment towards people who forced her into the Martha role.  It wasn’t fair for them to do that to her. The injustice of it hurt her. That and other injustices done to her over the years, especially when she was a young child, kept returning to her as she lay in bed not sleeping.

So she did the only thing she knew to do. She prayed.

“Jesus, I don’t understand all this. All I know is it hurts. But I forgive them for saying what they did and ask that You deliver me from the resentment and pain that has filled me.”

She fell back asleep and dreamed of a barracuda. A poor innocent barracuda that was about to be sacrificed in the name of entertainment. Upset at the injustice, she went to the people in charge and told them it was wrong and that she would tell the authorities about it if they didn’t stop it.

She woke again, puzzled.

“Lord, what’s this about?”

“Injustice. You have been treated unfairly in life.  I can release you from the past, to free you for the future. Just don’t worry about things so much.”

“So I really am like Martha?” she asked, heart sinking.

“Yes, daughter. Sweet daughter,” He said, voice full of love. “You are like Martha in that you get so worked up about things. You don’t need to worry if things will get done.  I’ll make sure what needs to be done does get done. I am here, involved, and I will bring about all that needs to be done. Relax in Me. I will give you the desire to do the things I want you to do. The rest I can handle. Don’t sweat over it. ”

“Do I at least have Mary’s heart? I love listening to You.”

“Yes, you have Mary’s heart. I know your love for Me. But you have been forced into a role I didn’t create for you. IMG_20180511_161925872As you are freed from the past, you will be free to be who I made you to be.”

“How do I get free?”

“Give it to Me -your resentments , your pain. Continually give it to Me. Forgive those involved. Listen for My directions. Practice letting go. I won’t treat you unfairly. As you see My faithfulness, you will be able to relax more.”

As she got ready for the day, she thought about His words. And came up with a plan. When things had to get done, instead of trying to get everything to happen herself, she would say…

“I wonder how Jesus is going to make this happen.”

Then all she needed to do was wait and watch and listen. Like Mary.

Do You Remember… Field of Flowers?

She was upset. She didn’t want to go but didn’t know why. She had spent weeks away before. Why was it so hard this time? Because it was going to be a week and a half instead of the week she first thought it would be? Why should that make a difference?

She packed slowly, feeling worse by the hour. She liked being home. All her things were there. She didn’t have many responsibilities lately and was enjoying working on her projects.

But she was needed elsewhere. And she wanted to help so she agreed to go. And had been OK about it until it came time to pack. Her online business required she take her computer, sewing machine, and the boxes of orders she needed to finish. By the time her SUV was packed to the brim, she was angry and stressed and wishing she didn’t have to go. But she had promised. She was needed. So she went.

On the way, she stopped to buy the groceries she would need while she was there. The store was very small and didn’t have everything she wanted. Anger turning to sadness and a bit of self-pity, she  squeezed the few bags of groceries into her car. As she opened the driver’s door, she looked down and saw a penny. She knew God was telling her He saw her and would be with her. She picked up the penny and put it into her pocket, thanking God for the reminder. But it didn’t help much with her feelings.

Driving the long distance, she slowly became aware that almost every light she went through was green. As many times as she’s driven this route, that almost never happens. And where was the traffic? It should have been bumper to bumper at this time of day. God again?

Once at the house, and her things were in the room she would sleep in, she set up her computer and checked her emails. Nothing exciting. She took a few notes on what she would be responsible for  – such as where things were, how to prepare them, what his daily routine was like, when to give him his meds – and felt increasingly insecure. Could she do this? What if something went wrong?

She decided to take a walk to ease the restlessness building in her legs. As she entered the nearby walking track, she looked down and saw something small and colorful. She picked up the little toy and looked around for its possible owner. But there were no kids around. She looked again at it and saw that it was a little plastic flower in a little plastic pot.

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“Aw… God gave me a flower.” she thought.

“It’s more than that,” came a still small voice.

More?

“Remember what you wrote… about a flower…”

And the story she had written about the field of flowers came immediately to mind. And she knew.

She had written about a picture God had given her many years before. About a flowers growing joyfully in a field. And she had been sad that she had picked some of them to give to Jesus, who had promptly given them to the Father.

“These are growing beautifully, just like You said. But the ones I picked are not growing anymore. I ruined them.”

“No, child,” He said gently. “You didn’t ruin anything. Even the flowers you picked were given to the Father. It’s all for His glory – whether growing or picked.”

He continued. “Be like the flowers.  Be the beautiful you He made you to be. Enjoy life, praising and loving Him, relaxing in His care, and sharing your beauty with everyone.’

“That’s easy to do, when I’m in a place as wonderful as this field. But what if someone picks me? What if they take me away from the peace and joy of this field?”  She was thinking about all the demands the people in her life place on her.

“Don’t resist them. Give yourself joyfully. And just like those flowers, you, too, will be given to the Father for His glory.”

She thought she understood. At least here, in this place, it made sense. She wasn’t so sure it would feel the same when she put it into practice.

“Will You help me?” she asked Him. “When people make their demands and take me from where I want to be, will You help me remember the flowers?”

Amazingly, that’s just what He did. With a little plastic flower in the little plastic pot.

Your Car Could Explode!

“I wouldn’t drive it again,” the man at the gas station told her. “It could explode.”

She looked with dismay, mixed with fear, at her car’s exhaust pipe. She had filled her tank with gas earlier that day and noticed when she got home that some gas was leaking from her tail pipe. She waited until it had quit leaking, then drove to the nearest gas station for advice and noticed gas had started leaking again.

“Don’t drive it.” was not the advice she wanted to hear. She needed to leave town within the next hour. Could the man fix it by then?

“Nope,” he answered when she asked him. “It’s just the overflow tank that was filled too much.”

She shook her head. No, that couldn’t be right. She had filled it like she always had and this had never happened before.

“So what do I do?” she asked him.

“Wait for the gas in the exhaust to dissipate or drain before you start the engine again. Any spark could cause your car to burn. Maybe even explode if it got bad enough.”

“But I have to leave town soon.”

“Guess you’ll have to cancel whatever plans you have.”

“I can’t. My parents are expecting me tonight. If I can get to their house, my brother can fix my car before I drive back home.”

“You really need to have this repaired before driving long distance. If it leaks while you’re driving, and it got too hot, it could explode.”

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She frowned. Was she stuck here at the gas station? She used the office phone to call everyone she knew in this very small town, back in the day before cell phones, but no one was home. She assumed they were all at the high school homecoming. What should she do?

She considered her options but didn’t like any of them. So she turned to the One with all the power.

“God,” she prayed. “This is Your car, remember? I gave it to You when I gave You myself and all that I had. Your car has a problem and I can’t find anyone here to help me. I’m going to go ahead and go to my parents’ house so my brother can fix it.  Please keep me safe as I drive. Amen”

With the faith of a new believer, she ignored the objections from the gas station man, and began the hundred mile drive. She drove very carefully, believing it could explode at any time. It was a long drive. A very long drive. Had it always been this long?

Finally she reached her parents’ driveway, pulled in, and, with a sigh of relief, shut off the engine. “Thank You,” she said as she climbed out of the car.

It was too dark, and the car too hot, for her brother to look at it right away. So he waited until the next day.

“All four gas hoses are cracked,” he said. “You’re lucky it didn’t start burning, or even explode on your way here. But I can get that fixed for you before you go back home.”

She knew it wasn’t luck that had kept her safe. She also knew her decision to go ahead and drive the car after being told not to was not very wise.

She looked up and said, “Thank You, Lord, for protecting me even when I’m doing something stupid. Your love and care for me is simply amazing!”

God is My Defender

I heard those words repeatedly over the course of a few weeks.

“… your God, who defends his people.” Is 51:22

“This is what the LORD says, “See, I will defend your cause…” Jer 51:36

“We do not need to defend ourselves…” Dan 3: 16

“Do not worry about how you will defend yourselves…” Luke 12:11

OK, I thought. Must be a new lesson. Sounded good to me. I knew no one could be a better defender than the Almighty God who loved me. And it was always good when He wanted to do something for me.

So I watched for opportunities in which I would normally try to defend myself to practice this new lesson. They came more often than I would have guessed. Little things, but frequent enough to give me the time to get good at keeping my mouth shut.

“I’ve got this!” I finally felt one day.

“Really? Then it’s time.”

Time for what, I wondered.

“Would you come to my office please?” The principal didn’t sound too happy. Oh, no, I thought. What did I do now? Turns out a parent had made some complaints and wanted a meeting to discuss them, with the principal in attendance. The meeting was set for the following day.

All night I wondered what the complaints were. I searched my memory for any indication that any parent had been upset with me. Nothing. I had no clue which parent it was or what this parent was going to say.

“Remember, I am your defender. Do not say anything. Let Me defend you.”

“Aallll riiiight,” I said slowly, stretching out the sounds as I considered the cost. If I didn’t say anything, if I didn’t give my side, how would the principal know what the truth was? I would look bad, and may even be disciplined for something I didn’t do. At the very least, I would probably look like a fool for not responding. But I knew I had heard from God. And if He said don’t talk, I wouldn’t talk.

“God is my defender. God is my defender. God is my defender,” I chanted quietly the next afternoon as I made my way down two hallways to the principal’s office.

As I entered the principal’s office, I was shocked at who I saw in the other chair. My parent volunteer! The one who had been helping out in my classroom for a couple of weeks! I could feel the knife beginning to prick my back.

“Have a seat,” the principal said. Then he turned to the lady. “OK. You go first. What are your concerns?”

As she rattled off everything under the sun from rudeness to teaching sex education to the boys in her bathroom, I sat there stunned, probably with my mouth hanging open. What? Where was she getting this? Why was she doing this? Nothing, absolutely nothing she said had any truth in it!

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I wanted so badly to tell the principal that it wasn’t true! But I just kept hearing, “God is my defender.” So I remained quiet.

When she finally stopped, the principal asked her, “Are you finished?”

She nodded, then glared at me. The principal turned to look at me. I thought he was going to ask me something, but then he seemed to change his mind. He turned back to the lady.

“Let me tell you about this teacher,” he began. “She is one of the best teachers here at this school. She is honest, and has the highest integrity. She is…” and he continued singing my praises for several minutes! When he got done, all I could do was marvel at God’s faithfulness. I didn’t have to defend myself, God had the principal do it!

After the principal dismissed the parent, he told me not to worry about anything. As I left his office, I may have looked like any other teacher walking from one place to another. But inside, I was shouting and praising and dancing down that hallway – to the amazing God who prepares us beforehand and who keeps His word!

Give To Those Who Ask? Really?

“You want what?” I couldn’t believe my ears.

Back in my early years of teaching, furniture other than student desks was very hard to come by. Teachers scraped and scrimmaged every piece they could find to provide for their storage needs. This included book shelves. And now the teacher across the hall, who’s room was almost wall to wall with bookshelves, had come into my room and asked me for one of the few bookshelves I had. And not just any one. My best one. Solid wood, painted my favorite shade of blue, I actually took joy in seeing it every day.

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I was about to say, “No way!” when I remembered what God had been teaching me recently in Matthew 5:42. “Give to those who ask, and do not turn away from those who want to borrow from you.” So far the lessons had been easy. Give a cup of water here, soda money there. But my book shelf? To someone who already had more than I did? Wait just a minute! Surely He didn’t mean to give something like this!

“Give to those who ask.”

Did she ask? Yes, I had to admit, she did. But she already had enough!

“Do not turn away…”

“But, God! You can’t mean that in this case! That’s my favorite book shelf!”

I tried convincing the teacher to take a brown one instead. But no, she wanted the blue one because it matched the other shelves in her room. In exchange, she would give me a rickety brown shelf that matched nothing.

If this is a test, I thought, why couldn’t it be for something different – like, say, one of my learning games? Or my new coffee mug? But my bookshelf? The one that took me years to get?

I looked at her. I looked at the shelf. And I thought, “God, I don’t want to do this. But You said to give. So I will.”

The teacher happily got her blue bookshelf, and I unhappily looked at the brown one she left. Following Jesus did not always feel good. But I wanted Jesus more than I wanted that blue shelf, and so I made the best of that old brown shelf.

Not long after that, another teacher was re-organizing her room and asked me if I wanted one of her old shelves. I jumped on it eagerly and almost ran to her room to get it.

It was a wooden blue shelf! Just like the one I had given to the teacher across the hall! Only the paint job was actually in better condition!

“Wow, God!” I thought. “Following You is amazing! Thank You!”

But the story doesn’t end there. Within the next few weeks, I was given several more wooden shelves that matched that blue one! Luke 6:38 came true right before my eyes: “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I think I got an A on that test!

Mark 13:11  What Should I Say?

“I can’t do this.”

“Yes you can.”

“I don’t want to do this.”

“I know.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I am with you.”

She remembered what Jesus had told His followers in Mark 13:11: “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”

But did that assurance apply to her in this circumstance? She was not the one on trial. And this certainly had nothing to do with her faith. She was here because of a custody battle over one of her students.

She didn’t know much about the family. The only time she saw them was when one or the other dropped off their son. They were both friendly in different ways and the child was a delight. She had no idea there were problems until one day when the mom had come in her classroom with a large bruise on her face. Tears streaming down her face, the mom had accused her husband of beating her and said she was going to divorce him. The mom had been concerned how it would affect her son and asked to be alerted to any changes in his behavior.

A week later she was served with a subpoena. And here she sat, waiting to be called before the judge to… say what? She didn’t know anything!

She had no idea what to expect and was terrified that she would be asked who she thought would make the better parent. How could she choose? Because she had seen the bruise on the mom’s face, she was siding more with the mom, and it had been the mom’s lawyer who had subpoenaed her  – but what if the story she had been told was not the whole truth? What if the mom was crazy and blaming her husband for something he didn’t do? After all, she hadn’t been there. And she had heard enough stories over the years to know things are not always what they seem. She was scared she would say the wrong thing and the cause the boy to go to the wrong parent.

“God, help me,” she pleaded over and over again. “Don ‘t let them ask me that question.”

“Don’t worry,” the mom’s lawyer had said. “The judge never allows that question. He knows teachers only have limited information.”

“God, help me,” she pleaded again, too nervous to feel His presence, or even to trust that He heard her.

“I am here. You will be fine.”

Finally it was her turn. Facing the judge, the mom, the dad, and two lawyers was nerve racking just in itself. But then the lawyers started firing their questions until her mind was swimming. She got confused more than once and had to ask the dad’s lawyer to slow down. When she didn’t think she could handle any more questions, the dad’s lawyer asked her one more. “Who do you think would make the better parent?” She stared at him, then at the judge. Before she could say anything, the mom’s lawyer objected. He told the judge she wasn’t qualified to answer that because of her limited contact with the family.

The judge turned to look at her and said, “In my experience, teachers are pretty good at making intuitive judgments about their students’ families. I’ll allow the question.”

There it was. THE question. What could she say? She took a deep breath, then told the judge her impressions as the parents had taken turns dropping off their son in the mornings. “I don’t know who would make the better parent,” she said. “But because the mom always talked about her son, and the dad always talked about himself, I would have to choose the mom.”

All the way home, she kicked herself, remembering what she could of the interview, and realizing she could have done a better job. If only that lawyer hadn’t kept confusing her!

The next morning, when the mom arrived with her son, she hung her head and apologized to the mom. “I’m so sorry if I messed anything up.”

The mom shook her head. “No, you don’t understand. Your answers were perfect!” She handed a pencil to her. “Thank you so much!”

Atop the blue pencil was a large rubber eraser, shaped like a sun, with the words “God’s Love Shines On You.’

 

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And she knew that God has sent that pencil to her. It was like getting a hug from Him, assurance that she had done a good job regardless of her fears. Not that she believed for a minute that her answers were all that wise in and of themselves – but the Holy Spirit had guided her in what to say, and God had used it for His purpose, standing behind her and filling her words with His power and light. And that’s what everyone else had heard. Just like He had promised in Mark 13:11.

What an amazing, faithful God!