Have you ever reached the end of yourself? I mean, really? That point where you feel as though you have failed in your life’s purpose – you’ve failed God, your family, your friends, and only death seems a suitable ending to it all? I have reached that point this year. Life has not been what I had dreamt it would be. Even though I did all I could to make the right choices and do the right things, it seems to have been all for naught. Yet, I have faith, granted to me by God, that says “Keep going, I the Lord your God am in control, not you.” His Word gives me hope that He can salvage my life, and do something beautiful with it.
I do not know what place this blog will have in my future. It may just sit here, in the hopes that maybe my words will lighten the burden of another, provide a laugh, or give hope to the weary. As I was organizing some files on my computer, I found the following article buried deep in my hard drive. Re-reading this story from my own life brought me much joy and hope. It was published in a magazine long ago, and I would now like to share it with you. If it is the last thing I write, I think it is a fitting end to ten fabulous years of blogging.
Thank you for reading, commenting, following, sharing, and well, just for being here, ever! May God bless you richly as you seek to serve Him. I now give you “Miracle on Webster Avenue”:
It was bedtime on a summer evening. As usual, my kids did not want to go to bed!
“Please, Mom, can you read us a story?” My seven-year-old begged.
“We just read some books together,” I told her, smiling. “You need to get some sleep now.”
“Could you tell us a story?” My oldest chimed in, “What about the story about the cream?” She asked.
“Yes! I love that one! The miracle story!” My son exclaimed.
“Okay. I like that story, myself.” I said. “But then, it’s bedtime!”
My children love to hear the miracle story. They love it because it’s exciting and they know the characters personally. They also love it because it’s true.
The struggles my family and I faced during 2003 will be etched in my memory forever. We had relocated our family over 500 miles to take over a ministry from a pastor who was in failing health. We had gone to Topeka, Kansas, and met with the pastor and prayed about this opportunity. We felt God was leading us in this direction. Our pastor had just resigned from the church we were attending in Hot Springs, and since my husband was his part-time associate, we had a choice to make – stay and hope the new pastor would keep us on, or look for another ministry – we chose the latter.
I can still see the tail lights of our Chevy Lumina fading into the distance as I stood on the porch of our home and waved goodbye to my husband. He would go to Topeka alone for a while to find a job and a home for us. I would remain in Hot Springs with our two young children and pack up our belongings. He stayed with a family in the Topeka church. His first purchases upon arriving were a newspaper and a city map. He was sort of a pioneer, charting a new path for his family and his ministry! He was only supposed to be gone about a week. He was gone for three.
My husband finally found a job working night shift in a factory. He found a house, too. The little house on Webster Avenue was perfect. We loved the fenced backyard and the little bedroom upstairs. The park was within walking distance. On the way to the park, we passed a duck pond and enjoyed feeding the ducks bits of bread. The plan was that my husband would be the associate pastor for about six months, and then become the senior pastor. In the meantime, the church could only pay us $60 a week salary. He would definitely need that factory job!
Despite the rough start, we saw blessings right away, or we thought so. My husband got a call from the employment agency that a job was available at another factory that would be on day shift. Getting on days would be wonderful! He quit the night shift job, but when he called to get the details of the new job, he was informed that it wasn’t open after all. The agency had called and left a message on our voice mail, but we didn’t know we had voice mail on our phone plan, and therefore, we couldn’t access the message! We had given up the other job already, so now, we were unemployed. We began to think we’d made a mistake after all.
My husband soon found work in a box factory folding boxes for minimum wage. As the days wore on, we became concerned about keeping our little home. We were barely able to pay our rent, keep the lights on and buy food. Many times, we survived because someone in my home church gave an anonymous love offering and the church mailed it to us. I dreaded paying the bills. I began to keep a journal of my thoughts. I soon filled up its pages with prayers, begging God to send help. I started reading the biography of George Mueller, the man who founded an orphanage in England. He often had to pray for their daily food. I felt that I was in the same position. Our faith was being stretched, but we would soon see firsthand that God cares about every detail of our lives. We would see a miracle.
One day, I noticed that my one-year-old son had a severe diaper rash. It was so bad that he was bleeding. I hated to take him to church and let the nursery worker see it, but I knew we needed to be in church. Sure enough, the nursery worker commented on it. I told her that yes, I knew about it and I needed to get some cream for it. I didn’t tell her that the five dollars for the cream were not in my possession. That night, I changed my boy’s diaper and was, again, reminded that I couldn’t care for his rash. It looked worse. I went to my husband with tears in my eyes. “What are we going to do?” I asked him. “We don’t even have five dollars to our name!” We decided we needed to pray and leave it to the Lord. He would either heal our son or give us grace, or both. We never expected what happened next. As soon as we stood from beside our bed, we heard a knock on the front door. We went together to see who was stopping by at 9 o’clock at night! It was the nursery worker from the church. In her hand was a nearly new tube of Desitin cream! I still had tears in my eyes from our prayer time, and now, fresh ones were streaming down my cheeks. She said, “I noticed Mitchell’s rash, and I remembered I had this tube of Desitin that we don’t need. Can you use it?” We certainly could! We explained to her how we had just gotten up off our knees from asking God to help us! It was a miracle, a real, live miracle on Webster Avenue and we will never forget it!
I’m happy to report that God provided everything we needed while we were in Kansas. When we filed our income taxes that year, we saw that our gross annual income was $13,000! How did a family of four survive on that in Topeka, Kansas? There’s only one answer: God. The pastor that was supposed to step down decided to stay on, so the Lord moved us on as well. At the time, we felt we had made a mistake; God wasn’t leading us there at all. But now, I see it differently. I know He did want us there. We grew closer to the Lord than ever before during those days. We saw miracle after miracle and our faith grew immensely. The lessons we learned in those days have helped us so much as we have journeyed on in our Christian life.
When my faith is tested, I recall this story. He can still do miracles in my life just like He did that night on Webster Avenue.