Trust Me

After her walk in the rain, she got in her car to head home. Home was about an hour away, through mostly uninhabited areas. There was the one small town between where she was and where she was going, but it was too small for even a traffic light. So she thought it would be an easy drive, especially in the early pre-dawn hours. She prayed like she usually did before making the drive, only this time her prayer was not about getting her safely home without delays or problems. It was that He would get her home according to His will. Why did she change her prayer, she wondered. That was strange.  But she just shrugged and drove out of the parking lot.

Thirty minutes later, as she entered that very small town, her car began to overheat. She watched with growing panic as the needle on the temperature gauge climbed steadily towards the HOT section.

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She was still almost 30 minutes from home. No way would she be able to make it. As she slowed down and studied the few buildings she was passing, all closed up and dark, she began complaining.

“Why can’t this have happened after I got home?  There are people there who can help me. I don’t know anyone in this town. Besides, they’re all sleeping anyway. So what am I going to do?  I don’t even know where to get water.  This is just my luck! If something is going to go wrong, it sure will. Look at that gauge! I can’t keep driving, or the radiator might explode or something. Where should I stop? Man, I’m so tired! Why did I have to go walking in the rain? If I had come straight home, the gas station would have still been open…”  On and on she went, getting more worried by the minute.

Finally she turned to God.

“Why are you letting this happen, Lord?” she demanded. “Aren’t You supposed to be taking care of me?”

In her spirit she heard Him clearly. “What did you ask me before you started driving?”

She thought for a moment, then remembered.  ‘Get me home according to Your will.’

“Yeah, but I didn’t mean this!”

“Trust Me.”

Trust Him? He wasn’t the one in a overheating car in the middle of the night, without even a flashlight. Or was He?

“OK. Where do I stop?”

Just then she saw lights ahead of her. As she got nearer, she saw that it was a small restaurant. Could it actually be open? As she looked through the large glass windows, she could see a waitress serving a man. So she pulled into the parking lot and went inside. Despite, or maybe because of, her appearance – a young girl, soaking wet and all alone – the waitress and man were happy to help her. After a small mishap with the radiator cap, the man managed to refill the radiator with the water the waitress brought him. And the car was ready to make the last leg of the trip home.

Back on the road, she thought about what had just happened. And was thankful that that man just happened to be in that restaurant just as she was passing it. The restaurant could have been empty, considering time of day it was.  Coincidence? She shook her head. Jesus had told her to trust Him. And He was right. She learned that even if things go wrong, He can be trusted to take care of her.

Hmmm… maybe He was behind her changing her prayer in order to provide her with this experience in trusting Him. That would explain a lot. He was sneaky that way sometimes.

“You are amazing,” she told Him. ‘But next time, can we just wait until I get home?”

Just Like… The Kitten in the Woods

“Let’s try this trail!” My son pointed to a narrow trail through a little piece of woods that bordered the street we were bicycling on.

“It looks hard,” I answered. “Maybe we should get off our bikes.”  Inside, I was picturing riding down the steep slope, hitting that hump at the bottom, and flying off into the trees.

“Nah, we can handle it,” my husband said as he took off, my son right behind him.

My daughter and I watched the boys disappear over the hump, then turned to look at each other.

“You go next,” I told my daughter. I still wasn’t sure this was a smart thing for a middle aged lady to do.

After watching her navigate the path as smoothly as the boys, I cautiously started off. Gaining speed, I almost screamed when I hit the hump but managed to stay on the bike even as I made the turn that lay right behind it. When I came to a stop, the others cheered. We walked our bikes a few more steps around some branches when my daughter stopped us.

“Do you hear that?” she asked.

We listened quietly a few minutes before we heard it too.

Just like I heard you when you called to Me.

“It’s coming from over there.” My husband pointed across the little stream that ran by the trail.

It took a few more minutes before we spotted the tiny gray form. It was on the other side of the stream, meowing pitifully. It would look at us, then try to cross the cold water. After several unsuccessful tries,  it gave up and paced up and down the edge of the water, looking at us as it continued to cry. She couldn’t get to us, so we decided to find a way to get to her.

Just like I did when I went to the cross for you.

It wasn’t until we got back home with the tiny kitten that we discovered just how bad a shape she was in.

cassi - CopyShe was very young, probably less than a month, wet, cold, covered with fleas. One eye was closed, covered with a brown crusty film, and her other eye wasn’t that much better off. There was a smelly discharge coming from her ears, and she had a kind of wheezing cough.

Just like you were when I found you.

Even so, we fell in love with her immediately. We saw past the disease and filth to the vulnerable and sweet kitten that she was.

Just like I see past all your sins and failures to the lovely treasure you are.

Even though we couldn’t imagine loving her any more than we already did, we knew we couldn’t leave her in that condition.

Just like I couldn’t leave you in your condition.

“She’s going to the vet first thing tomorrow,” my husband said. “She looks pretty sick.”

“She must be hungry. What can we feed her?” I asked. We had some dog food in the house but no cat food.

“We can ask next door,” my daughter said. “They have a cat.”

“Good idea!”

Our neighbor was generous but the kitten couldn’t eat any of the dry cat food.

“Maybe she’s too young. What else can we try? She has to eat something before tomorrow.” I said.

“What about tuna fish?” my son asked.

“Sure, we could try,” my husband replied. He went inside, and returned a moment later with a small dish of tuna.

As soon as the kitten smelled it, she attacked it like she hadn’t eaten in days. Mostly likely, she hadn’t.

Just like I feed you what you can handle.

Over the next week, her health improved dramatically as we applied the medicine the vet had given us. She didn’t like it and fought us at times, but we knew it was necessary if she was going to return to full health.

Just like how you are healing as I work in you, even if you resist at times.

After a month, you couldn’t tell that she had ever been sick. Cassi was healthy in every way, and had became my daughter’s best friend!

Just like you,  My friend!

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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!