The Best Helper

The bitter March wind forced Lois to pull her coat about her.  She was waiting at the bus stop for 8-year-old Danny to arrive.  Just then she spotted the large yellow shape of the bus making the turn at the bottom of the hill.  The bus made its way up the hill, then stopped, and it’s door folded open.  Several children filed down the steps before Lois spotted Danny.  His eyes did not meet hers, and there was no smile of greeting on his face.

Lois pulled the ear flaps down on Danny’s hat.  They had a block to walk to reach their house.  “How did it go today?”

No answer.

“Did the work we did on the multiplication tables last night help you on your test today?”

Still no answer.

Lois felt desperation gripping her heart as the cold was gripping her body.  She had been good in math.  She had tried so hard to help Danny, yet so far her efforts had not paid off.  “So what was your grade?”

Danny exploded in tears!  “Why do you even ask?  Why do you have to grill me like this every night?  You know what the answer is going to be.  I failed again!  I got the lowest grade in the class.  I only got three problems right out of twenty!  Mrs. Bell said that I was going to have to start studying or I would fail math.  But I did study.  I hate school!  I never want to go again!”  Danny was hysterical.

They had reached their home.  Lois unlocked the door and closed it behind them.  She gently removed Danny’s coat and hat, then lifted him into her lap.  She held him tightly, gently rocking him as tears flooded her own face.   It was even more difficult to see her child struggle than to deal with her own issues such as the divorce she was going through.

Eventually Danny’s sobs ceased, and he fell asleep in her arms.

Lois’ own pain and desperation did not end.  She had tried everything.  She had worked with Danny for more than an hour just last night. Obviously the practice was not helping the boy, but she did not know what to do instead.  As she sat still holding the boy tightly on her lap,  one word came to her mind, “Pray!” And she did pray.

After about thirty minutes, Danny awoke and slid off her lap.  He was off to play on his xbox.  Lois started to call out to stop him, but something or Someone stopped her.  “Not now!”

Lois continued her silent prayer as she set about getting supper.  By the time the spaghetti and meatballs were ready, she had reached a feeling of faith and peace.  They would work together on the math as usual, but with one exception, they would pray first.

A week passed.  Lois was again meeting Danny’s bus.  As he climbed down the steps, she eagerly searched his face.  He seemed brighter, more at peace!

She wanted to ask him once again about his math test results, but felt in her spirit that she should wait.

Danny was the first to break the silence.  “Jesus did help me, Mom!  I got four problems right this time!”

Lois’ heart sank!  Only four problems out of twenty?  That was still far from passing!  To her way of thinking that was hardly better than Danny’s score last week.  However, Danny seemed encouraged.

Before they began his math homework that night, Danny asked to pray.  “Thank you, Jesus, for helping me on my math test today!  Last week I only got three problems right, but this week You helped me and I got four right!”  Then Danny enthusiastically began his homework .

Lois knew Danny’s faith had encourage her own heart.

Sure enough, in another week’s time, Danny bounded down the steps of the bus, gave his mother a high five, and enthusiastically declared, “Ten right this time!”

“Still failing,” thought Lois, but clearly they were on to something.

One sunny day in May, a confident, glowing Danny met his mother at the bus stop.  “Nineteen out of twenty!” he crowed triumphantly!  “Best grade in the class!  When Mrs. Bell, asked me if you had been helping me with my math, I told her ‘Yes, but the real help came from Jesus!’  You know, Mom,  Jesus sits with me during the test.  You can’t do that, and”…Danny paused.  “No offense, Mom, but He’s a math expert!”

Lois grinned and breathed a silent prayer of gratitude!

*****

…Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Colossians 2:3

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Hidden in the Light

I could feel the cold sweeping over my soul–the nerves tensing in my stomach, and I knew that another anxiety attack was beginning.  Next came the suggestions:  “She thinks you are controlling, He thinks you are lying, etc.” At first the lies came to my conscious mind a few at a time, then as the attack increased, the lies seemed to bombard my thinking so that I could think of nothing else.

I was afraid of these thoughts.  I knew that no good Christian should be having them.  What if others knew these thoughts were coming to me?  They would surely reject me as a poor Christian, a “bad” person, someone who should be avoided!  That is what I feared most:  being rejected, being counted unworthy.

I was doing my best to live the Christian life.  I believed that I was the possessor of eternal life.  I knew that Jesus loved me unconditionally.  But that was not enough for me.  Jesus loves every believer unconditionally.  I had to be special, different, better than others to accept myself.

Years earlier I had entered first grade as a very frightened little girl.  I clung to the teacher and refused to go out and play with the other children.  At home, in order to get me to eat, my mother had been spoon-feeding me.  At school, I could barely choke down half a peanut butter sandwich.

I felt secure with the teacher, and I became her pet.  I cleaned erasers and picked up scraps of paper.  I was academically talented and began to excel, graduating at the top of my high school class, and in second place in my large college class.

As an adult my early insecurities were largely hidden only to reemerge again in my later years.  When I became a Christian, my teachers once again became the focus of my need.  Rather than doing things for my Lord Jesus, I felt that I had to please my teachers and pastors.

If a pastor suggested that I take a certain course of action, this created terrible turmoil in my mind.  If I took his suggestion, I would be doing it only to please him.  If I did not do it, he would surely reject me!

If a female leader saw the darkness in me, this punched all my buttons.  I felt that she had to be wrong!   I had to look good to her.  How could I accept myself, if she rejected me?

Others suggested that my problem was that I was trying to live the Christian life in my own strength.  I wanted to rely on the Lord, but the thought of it, brought terrible tension, and fear increased its grip on me.  I told the Lord, “I can not come to the end of myself.  I am too afraid, and my soulishness seems to go on and on without end.  Can you please bring me to the place of total dependence on you?”

As I sat quietly in His Presence, He gave me the picture of a brilliant light.  That, I knew, was Him.  In my mind, I saw myself, soiled and dark in many places, move closer to Him.  As I did that, His light overcame the darkness in me, and I disappeared!   In His Presence, I had peace.  I was hidden in His beautiful light!

By Pat Lockridge, March 20, 2017

****

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  Colossians 3:3 NIV

Lucky Pat

On  Saint Patrick’s Day

by Pat Lockridge

 Lucky Pat has
Friends who call when she needs them most.
A spouse who is always faithful in his support.
A church who both preaches and practices love.
A neighborhood with opportunities to pay it forward.
And a God who is loving, patient, and forgiving
as she learns to trust and surrender to Him.
Lucky Pat!

A Caregiver

unnamed-1I am a caregiver, a position that I have held since July 2015 when my husband suddenly became unable to move due to Parkinson’s Disease.   I didn’t apply for this position, nor am I particularly given to the people skills and medical knowledge that this position requires.  However, this position  is an opportunity to serve my husband and to serve my God!

My job description includes:
1. Managing six prescriptions and making certain that my husband (patient) not only gets the pills in his mouth but also swallows them!
2. Dressing the patient, helping him bathe, shaving him, and cutting his nails.
3. Preparing a variety of meals for him with the consistency of baby food.
4. Watching to make certain that my patient does not wander away or experience a crippling fall.

Rewards of working as a caregiver include:
1. Although the hours are long, the position offers plenty of down time.
2. My caregiver position also gives me a chance to give back to my life partner who has given me more than fifty years of companionship, support, and love.
3. It gives me a chance to see a different side of this man I know so well–a softer, gentler side.
4. And now that his mind is no longer dominant, it gives me a chance to know his spirit, that part of my man that connects with his God–gaining a new perspective on a life-long companion.

Praise Wins the Day!

“Wake up, Drusil!  Wake up, wake up!”  Micaha’s voice was adamant.

Drusil rubbed her eyes and sat up on her cot.  “What do you want?  What’s so urgent!”

“A huge enemy army has gathered against Israel.  The King wants everyone to gather in the courtyard to pray for the safety of our country.”

The two ran to the courtyard where a large crowd was gathering.  They were told to “hush” as King Jehoshaphat was praying a public prayer to ask help from the Lord for a victory in a battle against impossible odds.

“Oh, Lord won’t You judge them?  For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us, nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

When King Jehoshaphat had finished his prayer, Jahaziel, the prophet, began to speak,  “Thus says the Lord to you.  Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude for the battle is not yours but God’s. ..You will not need to fight in this battle.  Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!  Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them for the Lord is with you.”

Upon hearing that victory was promised, King Jehoshaphat humbled himself before the Lord with his face to the ground, and Micaha and Drusil along with the other subjects of the kingdom bowed and worshiped the Lord.  Then all stood and raised their arms to enthusiastically praise the Lord.

The next morning, Drusil and Micaha were among the first to arrive at the courtyard.  The singers from among the Levites were being organized into rows, first sopranos in the first row, second sopranos behind them, then the altos, tenors, baritones, and bases.  Drusil and Micaha were second sopranos so they took their positions behind the first row.  Assuming  that the singers had been organized to perform for the big victory celebration that was sure to come,  Drusil was glad that she could see around the girl in front of her.

After a few minutes, Drusil and Micaha looked around.  “Where were Israel’s soldiers?”  Finally, they spotted them a few hundred feet behind the last row of singers.  What a rag-tag group they were!  They had assorted weapons, and their shields and armor were worn and mismatched.  Even their lines were not straight.

Micaha got the realization first.  “We are going to lead the entire procession into battle!” she exclaimed, her voice filled with excitement and fear.

Just then the enemy forces came into view.  This army marched in perfect rhythm, their movements synchronized.  Their matching armor was polished.  Their shields were held to protect their chests and faces, their spears ready for attack.  The girls couldn’t even see the end of the multitude.

“Wow!” breathed Drusil.  What a murderous-looking mass!”  She tried to hide behind the girl in front of her as they moved forward to encounter the Ammonites and Moabites.

At the blast from the ram’s horn, they began to sing the song they had rehearsed, “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever!  Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever!”

Drusil forgot about the prophecy given the previous day that had promised victory.  All she could think about was the obvious peril she was in.  Drusil was not afraid to die.  She believed that her God would provide the sacrifice to atone for her sins and give her eternal life, but the thought of one of those spears puncturing her body causing her to bleed out in terrible pain terrified her!!  Her voice became a whisper.

Then Drusil began to think about the words that she was singing:  “The Lord’s mercy endures forever!”  She remembered how often her Lord had shown her mercy, mercy that she did not deserve.  Suddenly courage fell upon her.  If she was to die, she would do so boldly.  She would give her all.  Her voice grew stronger.  She turned and smiled at Micaha, who smiled back and joined her in praise.  Their courageous spirit was picked up by their section, then by the first sopranos in front of them and finally by the whole chorus!  “Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.  Because of Your mercy, we know that you are pleased to give us victory, and our enemy will not have his way.  Praise to the Lord, the God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting.” (Psalm 41:10-13)

As the singers advanced, Drusil noticed that the soldiers seemed confused, being met in this way by singers victoriously praising their God.  They hesitated.  As they did so, the rows behind them began to pile up.  Next the sides and back of phalanx began to mysteriously fall to the ground.  Soon the entire army was in disarray and in full retreat.  The whole enemy multitude was vanquished.  Praise had Won the Day!  Hurrah!  

Taken from 2 Chronicles chapter 20 and Psalm 41:10-13.