Martha Trueblood lived in a modest white cottage with blue shutters that faced Eagle Lake. As a seasoned veteran of change and gifted storyteller, she regularly spun tales on her deck for several neighborhood children while lake breezes swept their little minds clean of any preconceived parental opinions about the elderly Miss Trueblood.
“Back in the early1940’s we had a ‘victory garden,’” she told her three regular visitors one summer afternoon. “Since our country was at war, it was everyone’s job to do their part – and so my mama and I, we planted a HUGE garden with corn, beans, broccoli, peas, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach, pumpkins and squash.”
Miss Trueblood paused and gestured toward the children’s rapt faces as if to draw them into the memory as well. Then her arms spread out as if to engulf the entire known world. “The garden spread way across the whole big yard, and even into the pasture, and gave us something productive and important to do while my daddy was gone with the army. By taking care of ourselves and our older neighbors who were unable to plant their own gardens, we could make more canned food available for him and the other the fighting men. That was a very important job.”
She paused to search their little eyes for signs of understanding. Julie, a sun-kissed blonde with dirty bare feet, spoke up. “But Miss Martha, weren’t you afraid your daddy might be killed? And did you LIKE eating all those vegetables?” The other two were boys – less verbal, and yet thoroughly in tune with Julie’s question. They sat Indian-style like stones with faces upturned and mouths half-open, waiting.
Miss Trueblood stared at the waves as if gathering up her reply, then turned back to engage directly with Julie. “Honey, I loved those vegetables, because my mama said they were God’s special gifts to us – and how could I not like something sent directly from God? Sometimes I feared my daddy might die, and yet mama and I just hung onto our trust in Him. Along with the garden, it was like a lifeline for our hearts whenever we started to worry.”
Jared, a studious child with thick lenses in his black glasses frames, picked up on the emerging theme. “What trust? What do you mean? What did it look like?”
Ah - NOW she had their attention! “Jared, our trust was like a rope of three cords that anchored us to something way beyond anything we could see or know. For one thing, we had hope. The Bible says hope is the ‘anchor of the soul’ (1) - just like my rowboat is anchored to the old concrete block right out there.”
She pointed at the lake and their eyes followed hers. Yes. There was the rowboat, securely tied at anchor by a thick rope.
“Our rope of trust was something like that one,” she continued, still pointing, “with three strands, because the Bible says ‘a cord of three strands is not easily broken.’”* (2)
Caleb finally spoke up. “Three strands? All twisted together?”
“Yes, exactly Caleb! As we dug in the garden, planted seeds and pulled weeds and harvested crops, we kept trusting God because of three things: faith, hope, and love. The Bible says these three things, working together, are what hold us firm – just like the anchor out there.”
The children seemed to be listening intently, so before their attention lapsed Miss Trueblood seized the opportunity to sow more of God’s Word. Holding up one finger, she said, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.” (3) Holding up a second finger, she added,“…hope is an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (4) A third finger joined the others as she said, “…these three remain: faith hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (5)
The watery breeze stirred the leaves of the mammoth oak. A Canada goose honked. And three children’s hearts opened to the truth because Miss Martha Trueblood had taken time to share.