Redemption in Snow

Frozen Vista Randi Scott via CompfightThere is nothing quite like a good snow to halt the pace of life and give time for quiet contemplation. I live in the South, and my area is being blanketed with snow, sleet and freezing rain in unusual proportions. While reading in Exodus recently, I came across Exodus 11:10: “And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.”

We are such performance-based, results-oriented people. Each time Moses went before Pharaoh, in his humanity I am sure he wanted results, i.e., for his people to be allowed to leave Egypt. How many times we read that in response to God’s command, Moses “stretched forth his rod” and saw both miracles and plagues. The plagues were for the Egyptians; the miracles were for the children of Israel in that they were protected from the plagues. Surely Moses would have been justified in asking why it took so many plagues before Pharaoh begged for the Israelites to leave Egypt, but all we read is of Moses’ obedience to the command of God. I found it eye-opening in Exodus 11:9 where the Lord told Moses “Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you.” If I were in Moses’ shoes, I know what my reaction would be: “Why should I even try if there is no hope that I will be successful?” And then God told Moses why he was hardening Pharaoh’s heart: “that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” This information did not come to Moses until before the tenth judgment. And in a divinely-placed parenthetical moment, God instituted Passover, the clear picture of redemption. This message of redemption was the wonder that God wanted multiplied in the land of Egypt.

My thoughts turned to those I know serving on the mission field. One shared his frustrations in learning a new language – frustration because of his deep desire to share the message of redemption. Another friend has been on the field for many years, has reared a family there and is experiencing heartache with respect to one child in particular. Both of these are in situations where, like Moses, it is difficult to see God’s bigger picture. How will redemption be manifested in these situations? That remains to be seen, but we can have confidence that there is a higher purpose being played out. Like Moses, the challenge for these servants of God, and for us, is to respond in obedience and without question to the call of God on our lives.

There is redemption even in this beautiful snowfall. Families are indoors together where stronger bonds can be forged without the distraction of everyday life. People are staying off the roads and thus lives are being saved. Perhaps some are “redeeming the time” with extra prayer and Bible study. While there are aspects of this snow that are disruptive and even dangerous – we may lose power – there is no doubt that God’s redemptive purposes, his bigger picture is being played out as he continues to demonstrate his sovereignty and grace.

The Lord be praised!

“Occupied with Joy”

" There is night so we can appreciate day, sorrow so we can appreciate joy, evil so we can appreciate good, 'YOU' so I can appreciate 'LOVE' ! "Creative Commons License Parvin via Compfight
My pastor has been preaching through the book of Ecclesiastes on Sunday evenings. Recently he referred to Ecclesiastes 5:29, and I had one of those I’ve-never-seen-this-before moments. Here is the verse from the ESV: “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.”

Who of us does not identify in some measure with Job and all of his sorrows? Life does not get much worse than what Job experienced: loss of children (the worst loss I can imagine), possessions, boils covering his body, and all were allowed by God to prove his servant. Reading through the book of Job, we see him acknowledging his grief and desperate state, but he fights to accept it all as from the Lord, and “in all this Job did not sin or charge God for wrong.” (Job 1:22)

Since there are now many days of my life, I find that I remember less and less of the bad days and more and more of the good days. For instance, like every mother, I remember the birth of my first child. My husband was there for the labor and present in the delivery room. Although the process was considered uneventful by medical standards, it had a profound effect on my husband who held my hand afterwards and stated, “I will never put you through this again!” How soon we forgot the pain and trauma of childbirth as we went on to birth three more! Yes, I remember the pain, the sleepless nights, colicky babies. I remember that those things happened, but I remember more the joy each of my children has brought, not only in their growing up years but also as they have matured into Godly people who desire to please the Lord. It is he who has so marvelously occupied us with joy; for if we remembered only the pain of our days, surely we would all be suicidal.

Lately doors have opened to share my struggle with cancer. In writing and speaking of all I have endured in these 20 years, there has been a recounting and a remembering of the woes of the disease. Yes, there was suffering, sickness and a dragging through life that was not fun. But what I most remember is the kindness of friends and family who helped with meals (even gift certificates for dinners out), their faithful prayers that continue to this day, and a loving heavenly father who truly occupied me with his joy! How amazing is that?! Pretty amazing! I have truly experienced God’s enduring grace and he has occupied my heart with his joy.

Getting through his testing was not easy for Job. Neither is it easy for us to get through the hard times of our lives. To come out on the other side of a trial with joy and rejoicing, there has to be the deliberate choice to see God in everything and to know any hard place is for our good and his glory. As I have read through Job, it seemed that Job suffered forever. I was surprised to learn that all of these griefs of his life covered a period of about one year. Job certainly had the correct perspective as he proclaims: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold….” (Job 19:25-27a) This is a powerful demonstration of what it means to be “occupied with joy.”

The Lord be praised!

Onward, Forward

When Mr. Whitney mounted the platform and slid onto the piano bench at Rose Hill Church of the Nazarene, the congregation knew what was coming next. He would sweep his knuckles across the keyboard and launch a rousing rendition of “The Fight is On!” The refrain to this Gospel song by Leila N. Morris is as follows:

“The fight is on, O Christian soldier,
And face to face in stern array,
With armor gleaming, and colors streaming,
The right and wrong engage today!
The fight is on, but be not weary;
Be strong, and in His might hold fast;
If God be for us, His banner o’er us,
We’ll sing the victor’s song at last!”

But it is the chorus to another Gospel song in a similar militaristic vein that has been swirling through my head here at the New Year. This refrain from “Sound the Battle Cry” has become my mantra for 2014:

“Rouse, then, soldiers, rally round the banner,
Ready, steady, pass the word along;
Onward, forward (emphasis mine), shout aloud, ‘Hosanna!’
Christ is Captain of the mighty throng.” (William F. Sherman)

Each time I ask “What next, Lord?” his answer is simply this: “Onward, forward. I have the path planned, and I will guide you step by step.”

Recently I saw a bumper sticker that read “Boldly going nowhere!” At first I chuckled but had to admit that I often feel exactly that way. It is then the Lord gently reminds me that because he is in me and I in him, and because I am seeking to know and do his will, he will guide, he will accomplish, he will bring the shouts of “Hosanna!” to my lips. Every day is an adventure of trust, of being satisfied not to know what is coming next but to welcome whatever it is in full assurance that “all things work together for good….” (Romans 8:28). But it is the rest of that verse that brings the most encouragement: “All things work together for good to them who are the called according to his purposes.”

Happy New Year! The Fight is On! The Lord be praised!

Thanks Living

For the born-again believer, Thanksgiving should be much more than just a date on the calendar and an annual acknowledgement of God’s goodness. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., said, “When gratitude dies on the altar of a man’s heart, that man is well nigh hopeless.” Charles Spurgeon would agree with Dr. Bob for he wrote: “Absence of gratitude is a sure token of an unrenewed heart.”

The Scriptures have much to say regarding thanks giving. I Thessalonians 1:18: “In EVERYTHING give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” What about “everything” do we not understand? I have identified three things that encompass the “everything” for which we should give continual thanks:

Thanks for what he gives that we ask for – answered prayer.
Thanks for what he withholds for our good and his glory.
Thanks for what he gives that we did not ask – learning to live thanks by raising our conscious awareness of God’s gifts.

What is the first or most important prayer God answered for you? I hope you said, “The sinner’s prayer for salvation.” Considering the price Jesus paid to ransom our hell-bound souls, should we not offer continual praise and thanksgiving for his “unspeakable gift?” (II Corinthians 9:15) Might it be possible to learn how to live our thanks? We who are so naturally ungrateful, could we learn how to live in a state of constant gratitude? The Apostle Paul makes the case in Philippians 4:11-12 when he wrote “For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” The implication is that we can change from ingratitude to gratitude. We start by thanking God for answered prayer.

As we grow in our gratitude lifestyle, we then learn to thank God for what he withholds. Do not the Scriptures declare “no good thing will he withhold….?” (Psalm 84:11) We turn again to Paul in II Corinthians 12:7-10 who prayed three times for his thorn in the flesh to be removed. What victory Paul experienced once he understood the purpose for the thorn was “that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” For me, God has chosen not to heal my cancer. But he has enabled me to thank him for the cancer and to experience him in ways I never would have except for this physical trial. The Lord has also seen fit to withhold remarriage from me. About two years after my husband died, I went through a time of great loneliness and desire for companionship. There were relationships, but they never developed. God taught me that he could use me much more effectively by being single. I have great freedom and flexibility that would not be mine otherwise. (Besides, it takes an awfully good man to beat none!) My heart is settled in the Lord and his plan for my life. I truly thank him for what he is withholding from me.

Where the greatest growth in gratitude and thankfulness occurs is in thanking God for what he gives that we did not ask. There is so much he gives that we just assume and take for granted. Seeing those gifts requires a heightened awareness of every good and perfect gift that has come and continues to come our way from a God who “daily loadeth us with benefits.” (Psalm 68:19) We achieve this by enumerating – listing – everything we recognize as God’s tokens of love to us. Psychologists say people who take the time daily to list at least five things for which they are thankful are 25% happier than most. My heart was opened to the idea of enumerating God’s gifts by Ann Voskamp in her book, “One Thousand Gifts.” Ann was challenged to make a list of 1,000 gifts from God. She carried a notebook with her everywhere she went as a reminder to be alert to even the smallest detail and see God in it. The miracle of that exercise was that she realized when she reached 1,000 gifts she had not even scratched the surface of God’s goodness and bounty of love towards her. But the intentionality of listing God’s gifts kept her in a constant state of awareness of the inexhaustible love God has for her. It is in this heightened awareness of God’s blessings and gifts to us that we are able to move from mere thanks giving to thanks living! When our first breath in the morning and our last thought at night is praise and thanks to God, when we thank him upon each recognition of his goodness and are aware of his presence with us each step we take during the day, then we can experience the ecstasy of thanks living!

May God challenge us to be truly aware of him. The Lord be praised!

Another Husband for Mother

Mother continued working in a local hospital where she met another patient who fell in love with her. By this time, the divorce from Vernon was behind her, my sister and I were well into high school, and some of those six brothers were pressing on towards the teen years. No doubt Mother was feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of continuing as a single parent. One week before my high school graduation in May 1963, she married Kelsey. He was a good man who worked for the state of Arizona maintaining a stretch of unpaved mountain road out from Globe, a city about 80 miles east of Phoenix. It was obvious that he loved Mother and wanted to take care of her. He was even willing to be a father to the boys; but as time would prove, he came a little late to that task. Nevertheless, he did his best.

I was no longer attending a Nazarene church but instead had been invited by friends to an independent Bible church where I was growing in the Lord and had a strong youth group for fellowship. Through the influence of the youth pastor, I felt the Lord wanted me to attend a Christian school in South Carolina, so I made application and began working to earn money for college.

In July, Mother took my sister and the boys with her to Globe. Because of work, I stayed in Phoenix. They were enjoying an afternoon at Roosevelt Lake when tragedy struck. My seven-year-old baby brother, who had been sitting on a rock with Mother monitoring his every move, suddenly fell off the rock into the water and was immediately sucked down into a deep hole. Mother, who could not swim, instinctively dove in but could not reach him. She subsequently passed out and somehow floated to shore. My sister and brothers were witness to all of this. Miraculously, just as this was happening, Kelsey, who had been grading the road that day, was the first person on the scene. My brother’s body never surfaced, and divers had to be called out to retrieve it. Mother told me later that when she came to in the water, she knew she could not save Lloyd. The faces of all her children kept flashing before her face. She knew she had to make it to shore and save herself for their sakes. Seems there were lots of miracles at Roosevelt Lake that day.

It was at my brother’s funeral that I realized I had a different view of death than most people. Yes, there was a sense of loss, but I was excited that he was in Heaven with Jesus! However, that excitement kept me from fully entering into the grief my mother was experiencing in the loss of her child. Credit youth and immaturity if you will, but I soon learned the depth of her grief when I received a letter from the college to which I had applied. Without my knowledge, Mother had written the school saying she did not think it was a good idea for me to enter in the fall, that I did not have the finances and she could not help. The school was asking me how I wished to proceed in light of my mother’s letter to them. In her mind, she had just lost her youngest in death. Having her oldest go so far from home for college was akin to losing another child. Out of respect for Mother, I agreed to postpone college. In God’s timing, he allowed me to enter school in the fall of 1964. Through his faithfulness and provision, I graduated four years later. Only one other of my siblings has obtained a college degree.

Today there are six of the eight Roberts children still living. I am the only one who does not live in Arizona. Years ago, we lost another brother who had fought in Vietnam. He finished his tour of duty and returned home only to be taken in a freak motorcycle accident. God even brought good out of that loss as several of his organs were donated to save the lives of others.

During my college years I was greatly burdened for the salvation of my brothers. At night from my bunk bed in the dormitory I would cry out to God for their souls. Finally, in a breakthrough moment God gave me the assurance that each of my brothers would come to know him. As the years passed, I watched God fulfill that promise.

To those readers who have followed this narrative of my childhood, the message that I pray comes through is that God is loving in all his ways, deliberate in EVERYTHING he allows in the lives of those who belong to him – and I belonged to him before I knew him because HE had chosen ME before the foundation of the world! That baby girl conceived in sin and reared in poverty and abuse was at all times under the watchful eye and protecting hand of a loving heavenly father.

There is much of God’s grace that was manifested in the ensuing years of marriage and rearing of my own children, and he may allow the sharing of those stories in due time. For now we will stop this narrative and continue in another vein – all for the purpose of displaying his glory in order to bring “Light for the Night – encouragement for the dark places of life.” The Lord be praised!

A Bright Spot

Writing from the perspective of years, I look back over my life and see how God was protecting and shielding me from many things. Even the fact that my childhood memories are so spotty is a blessing. But the recounting of my life and childhood would be incomplete without sharing the story of my salvation

We were faithful to the Nazarene church every time the doors were open. One of my brothers was born on a Sunday and Mother had him in church the next. He did not miss a Sunday for several years. The Nazarene church used to give out pins for perfect attendance. The first year pin was followed by the second year crest that encircled the pin that was then followed by bars for each succeeding year. The Roberts children each had long strings of pins. But church attendance does not a Christian make.

I believe I was nine years old when I understood that I was a sinner. It was during a Vacation Bible School week. If I could visit the Rose Hill Church of the Nazarene today, I think I could go to the exact pew where I got on my knees and asked Jesus to be my Savior. Even though in later years I would question my salvation, there is no doubt in my mind that this event was real and I knew what I was doing. Afterwards, I felt different, as if a real change had taken place. Because we were always in church, I don’t think there was a noticeable outward change. But I knew Christ was now in my heart.

The pastor was a good man who preached the Gospel along with Nazarene doctrines. I remember hearing many sermons on being “saved and sanctified.” The church believed there was a second step after salvation that believers needed to take called sanctification. There was also a great deal of emphasis on holiness. There was not any preaching on the security of the believer. Even though my grandmother “loved Jesus,” she was never secure in his love for her and always felt there was a chance she could lose her salvation. If you would ask my grandmother if she knew for sure that she was going to Heaven, she would say, “I hope so.” Then she would study her Bible, teach Sunday school and work as hard as she could be to be sure that did not happen. I was standing beside her bed shortly before she died. It was not until then that Mama seemed to have the peace that she truly was going to be with Jesus.

I had a Godly Sunday school teacher who loved the girls in her class. Everyone looked forward to being old enough to be in “Aunt Lottie’s” class. She had a quiet, serene demeanor and a smile that warmed your heart. I felt sure she lived the closest to Jesus that anyone could live, and in her presence I felt truly loved. She knew my home situation and tried to encourage my mother. What a sweet memory from my childhood – one of a very few.

It is hard to pinpoint the exact year in my life when Mother filed for divorce from Daddy, but I think it was when I was in the sixth grade. In time, she met a man through her nursing, one of her patients, who helped us move away from the house across the cow pasture from Mama. By this time, Daddy had been released from the hospital and was under a court order to stay away from us. Once the divorce was final, Mother married this man who had two children of his own. It was not a happy union.

Big Changes

(Note: In the last post, I referred to my grandparent’s divorce as occurring in the 1920s. The 1930s is probably more accurate, but still during a time when divorce was severely frowned upon.)

As the years went by, my father’s abuse and drinking began to take its toll on both him and us. Daddy was not able to work regularly, so we were truly struggling to put food on the table. It was no joke at our house: If tonight we had “taters and beans,” tomorrow night we would have “beans and taters.” Breakfast was biscuits and gravy most of the time with an occasional egg from Mama’s hens. Mother finally reached her breaking point.

Mother had always wanted to be a nurse. She was not able to take formal training, but a local hospital in Little Rock was willing to train her as a nurse’s aide. She could not give medications, but she loved helping the patients, and the patients loved her. Realizing she could earn an income and provide for her children gave Mother the courage she needed to finally make the break. An incident where Daddy acted inappropriately towards me became impetus for Mother to move forward with her plans to leave.

Mother came from a large church-going family well thought of in the community. Her father, a very tall, large-boned man who always wore denim overalls, had seven children by his first wife who died. Mother was the only girl of four children born to his second wife who also died. Her father, an excellent carpenter, married a third time, but this woman was not kind to Mother. She was a sickly woman who expected Mother to handle the household in addition to going to high school. This home situation made her even more eager to get away. When her family learned of her untimely pregnancy, they disowned her. It was many years after her step-mother’s death before Mother was ever welcome in her father’s home, and it was even longer before they quit reminding her of the awful mistakes she had made by getting pregnant and marrying Daddy. They offered her no support whatsoever through the years. When we were finally allowed to come for Sunday dinner on rare occasions, I remember feeling very awkward. Daddy, of course, was never welcome.

It was not long after she started working that Mother filed for divorce. The day after the papers were filed, Daddy was committed by the courts to the state mental hospital. Had she waited one more day to file, she would not have been granted a divorce. Arkansas law at the time would not allow divorces if either one of the parties was mentally incompetent.

I was in the sixth grade when all of this was taking place. Once Daddy was committed, I do not remember ever seeing him again. He “dried out” in the hospital and was eventually released, but by that time we were no longer in the area. Daddy died right before my sixteenth birthday. I was well into my adult years with children of my own before God enabled me to finally confront the betrayal I had experienced from my father. Sitting in my living room with an empty chair in front of me, tears streaming down my face and sobs wrenching my heart, I talked to Daddy as if he were there. “Daddy, I hope you are in Heaven. I would really like to see you again. I want you to know that I am forgiving you for the wrongs done to me. I love you, Daddy.”

At a time in my life when I thought things could not get any worse, they did.

Daddy in the Ditch

Friday nights were often full of uncertainty as my mother wondered if Daddy would come straight home from work. This was especially true on paydays. His buddies at the beer joint were always glad to see him walk in and encouraged him to linger long.

With the money almost gone, Daddy would start for home in his drunken state. Kanis Road with its sharp curves and deep ditches was not easy to navigate in daylight fully sober. Because he was diabetic, the alcohol would often cause him to pass out before he could get all the way home. Not surprisingly, he would sometimes end up in a ditch. My father was well known to the local sheriff and his deputies; and when they would find him passed out and the car in the ditch, they would bring him home. The car would be towed by a friend the next day. As to why my father was never seriously injured in these incidents, only the Lord knows. On the nights he did make it home, he would stir up a huge dust cloud on Gamble Road as he roared into the yard. We children knew to steer clear, and my mother knew what was coming for her.

My grandmother was sure her son knew the Lord. I can remember Daddy going to talk with the preacher and occasionally going to church with us. He even responded to an altar call and committed to staying sober and doing right by his wife and children. I believe my dad truly meant well and was sincere in his desire to change, but the hold alcohol had on him was so strong. As a result, the respites did not last long.

The times were rare and few, but I do remember piling into the back of a pickup truck with my sister and brothers and Daddy taking us to a drive-in movie. There was even money enough for popcorn and an RC Cola!

In our rural neighborhood, my father’s reputation for drinking and abuse was well known. People felt sorry for us and did their best to help. Our clothes were hand-me-downs. The first new dress I ever remember was one bought for my graduation from sixth grade. The tiny pink flowers in the fabric are fast in my memory. I remember feeling pretty when I wore it.

With scant money, my mother was amazing in her ability to stretch. A typical trip to the grocery store would yield a 25-pound sack of flour, a 10-pound bag of corn meal and some lard. My grandmother kept a cow and a few chickens, so we always had milk, butter and eggs. Mother made biscuits and gravy from scratch every morning and cornbread every evening. I learned how to do both as well. In the winter, I cooked cornbread in a cast iron skillet on top of the woodstove in the living room. It was too cold to cook or eat in the drafty kitchen with wind whirling through the cracks, so we huddled in the living room around the stove in the evenings until time for bed. The tar-papered house we lived in was very hot in summer and cold in the winter. We slept in a room with only a sub floor and you could see the ground beneath. My grandmothers handmade quilts were piled on. We would get real warm by the stove and then run jump in bed before we cooled down too much. My sister and I shared the same bed for many years, and my brothers slept sometimes as many as four-to-a-bed. As much as we hated to go to bed, it was worse getting out of those warm beds in the morning to get ready for school.

As for Christmas….

Just Changing Mountains

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William Congreve was right when he wrote “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” Music that reflects Scriptural truth always touches me deeply, and often in the midst of trials God will use a song to stir my soul and refresh my spirit. In this case, there have been several songs that have spun around in my head in these recent weeks of trial. These Gospel songs represent the cries of a soul before God – cries I found myself singing to the Lord in recent days:
Strike One Luis Argerich via Compfight
“In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face,
While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place.
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry,
Keep me safe til the storm passes by.”

In the midst of storms and trials, sometimes all you can do is cling to the promise that “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” until God chooses to lift the fog and reveal himself in the trial.
It Just Isn't Cricket, Is it. Neil Howard via Compfight
“When I’m low in spirit, I cry ‘Lord lift me up. I want to go higher with Thee.’
But nothing grows high on a mountain, so he picked out a valley for me.
And he leads me beside still waters somewhere in the valley below.
And he draws me aside to be tested and tried; in the valley he restoreth my soul.”

The screensaver on my computer is of a beautiful high mountain on which there is little vegetation. Truly “nothing grows high on a mountain,” but in the valley of verdant green pastures and soothing, flowing water we are refreshed and strengthened. The Psalmist David near the end of his life penned Psalm 23 and spoke so lovingly of the Shepherd in the valley who meets all of his needs. In the valley, even the valley of the shadow of death, God declares his presence with us and strengthens us for the start of the journey back up the mountain.

The Christian life is often a series of peaks and valleys. When we are on the mountain with Christ, it is easy to have faith and trust, but it is in the valley that our faith is greatly exercised.
Dry Mountain SP8254 via Compfight
“You talk of faith when you’re up on the mountain
But talk comes easy, when life’s at its best.
Now it’s down in the valleys, trials and temptations,
That’s where your faith is really put to the test.
For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.
When things go wrong, he’ll make them right.
The God of the good times, is still God in the bad times.
The God of the day, is still God in the night.”

Our God NEVER changes! Hallelujah! It was his steadfast love and constant presence that saw me through these weeks of discouragement and repair.

“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee.
How great thou art! How great thou art!”

With praise to the Lord, I am not in the valley. I’m just changing mountains!

Chicken Soup for the Soul

God always has purpose in whatever he allows into our lives, and this week God has shown himself strong through chicken soup.  It took a diagnosis of pneumonia to bring on the chicken soups that blessed me so richly.

The first encounter with chicken soup started on the way home from the doctor’s office when the friend who took  me there insisted on stopping at a local store of the chain famous for its chicken filets.  She was convinced their version of chicken soup would be just what I needed.  She ordered two large bowls.  I had my debit card at the ready when the worker announced the total, but my friend would not hear of my paying for the soup.  This friend had interrupted her day of preparation for out-of-town company to take me to the doctor in her car, and now she was insisting on paying for chicken soup.  Since I was still reeling from the doctor’s diagnosis of pneumonia, I accepted her gracious gesture with thanksgiving both to her and to the Lord.

This transaction took place late in the afternoon but too early for the supper hour, so the chicken soup went into the refrigerator.  When I finally got around to eating it, I noticed the noodles were of a different consistency than those found in Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, the standard by which all other chicken soups are judged!  The chicken was chunky,  All in all, it was very tasty.   I thanked God again for the blessing of his provision.

It was not long before news of my illness had circulated through the church grapevine.  Members of my local assembly, a church that on purpose tries to function as a true Body of Christ, began calling with assurance of prayer and solicitations of “can I do anything for you?”  One lady announced that she had just made a pot of chicken soup and asked if she could bring some over.  This Godly lady has a reputation for her culinary skills, so I was eagerly anticipating her version of chicken soup, and she did not disappoint.  She arrived late in the afternoon of a very cold and rainy day.  This lady who suffers with great back pain inconvenienced herself to minister to my necessity.  Her simple gesture spoke volumes.  Her recipe for chicken soup contained rice, smaller-but-generous-in-number chunks of chicken and, best of all, it was hot and ready to eat.  This lady knows me well, and included in her delivery were a few chewy-gooey brownies!  How marvelous are the works of the Lord!

There was a third delivery of chicken soup from a close friend and confidante who took time from a busy professional schedule to be God’s instrument.  Her recipe for chicken soup included shredded white meat chicken, rice, vegetables and cream of chicken soup.  It was delicious and very satisfying over several meals.

Each recipe for chicken soup accomplished its purpose – it satisfied my need for nourishment and delivered all that chicken soup is reputed to deliver for upper respiratory illnesses.  Yet I was still struck by the diversity of each recipe.  Even the soup from the national chain was put together by someone, and the vision in my head is that of God superintending the selection of each ingredient, prompting stirring at just the right moment and supernaturally adding his own love and care to the mixtures that would minister so sweetly to one of his own.

As I write this on Saturday morning, the thermometer indicates I still have a fever.  I pray this piece makes sense and conveys how these simple, similar acts of kindness brought great blessing to my body and soul.  The recipes for chicken soup were as varied as the cooks putting them together, but they each accomplished God’s purposes!

The Lord be praised!