Hebrews 11:1(NLT) What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.
The young woman watched the hungry flames devour her temporary home as her young children clung to her legs. “We’re going to be okay,” Lori assured them as she wiped their tears away.
The hour was late, but the neighbors awakened by the sirens and lights, gathered outside their homes to watch the blaze. Lori’s street was usually quiet and uneventful. Most of the neighbors kept to themselves except for an occasional ‘hello’ wave from across their yards. Tonight was different. Dogs were barking, kids were shouting and parents were gathering to help Lori and her two preschoolers.
“Here, dear, wrap yourself and the kids in these blankets. These autumn nights are getting pretty chilly.”
“Oh thank you, Mrs. Davis.” Annie was shivering as Lori draped the blanket around her tiny frame and Jimmy pretended his blanket was a magic cape. Smiling Lori softly spoke, “I’m thankful to God that we made it out safely.”
As the firemen got the blaze under control, the curious crowd thinned out. Helen, an elderly neighbor from across the street, offered to take the children and get them to bed. “Yes that’s a good idea. Thanks so much.” Annie and Jimmy kissed their mom goodnight and followed Helen. From the upstairs window they saw their mom talking to one of the firemen. “Now children, try to get some sleep,” Helen said softly as she tucked them snuggly under an old patchwork quilt.
When Lori walked over to Helen‘s, she already had a pot of tea on the burner. With genuine concern, she asked, “What will you do now, Lori?”
“I’ll pray, Helen.”
“Well, if you don’t mind me saying, it’s a little late for that. Guess your God was sleeping at the wheel to let such a thing happen.”
“Oh, Helen you’re wrong. He’s a good God and He was watching out for us tonight. If I hadn’t woke up when I did, we would have succumbed to the smoke. Don’t you see, an angel of God nudged me awake and I’m sitting here sipping tea instead of . . .” Lori’s voice grew thin as she imagined the worse. “Anyway, I’m grateful for His mercy and love.”
“Love? I don’t get it,” Helen said shaking her head. “You talk about your God watching over you, but now you’re homeless and your husband is still off doing his duty overseas. You have nothing left but the pajamas you’re wearing. Ya know, Lori, she said shaking her finger, I’ve never put much stock in things I can’t see. And I dare say, I’ve never laid eyes on God. How is it that you can sit here so calm when you‘ve just lost everything?”
“Because I love Him and I know He loves me and Annie and little Jimmy. He won’t abandon us in our time of need. You’re wrong when you say I have nothing, Helen. People that go through life without ever knowing their heavenly Father are the ones with nothing.”
“Well young lady, you have a strong faith, I’ll give you that.” Pouring more tea, Helen blew some gray wispy hairs from her face. “So you’re gonna actually expect God to make everything all right?”
“Yes, I am. He has a way of making things turn out just fine no matter how bad things seem at first. You’ll see.”
With some eye rolling and head shaking, Helen cleared the cups from the table and encouraged Lori to try to get some sleep. Grateful for the hospitality, Lori wearily climbed the stairs. Kissing their foreheads she scooted the kids over and slept in their bed. She wanted them close to her tonight. Dear God, thank you for your blessings today. Please keep Jim safe and bring him home soon. . .and help Helen see. That said, Lori gave in to the sleep she desperately needed.
Early morning calls to her family and husband kept Lori busy before the kids got stirring. Helen had left a note on the table inviting her guests to eat the muffins cooling on the counter. The shaky writing indicated she’d be home soon.
“Mommy, what clothes can I wear?” Annie asked coming down the stairs. It was as if she expected her mom to pull something out of the air. Jimmy didn’t care if he stayed in his pj’s all day. At only three years he was more interested in the tasty treats on the counter.
By mid-morning Helen came bursting in the room with bags from the local resale shop hanging from her skinny old arms. “I guessed at your sizes, but figured something was better than nothing at all.” She dumped the shirts, sweaters, jeans, shoes, and jackets on the table in various piles. Hope I’m not insulting you by going to The Bargain Bin, but I know the owner and she’s mighty fussy about what she takes in. Oh, and I picked up some new underwear and toiletries too, so you should be set for now.”
With tears filling her eyes, Lori threw her arms around Helen’s neck. “You’re an answer to my prayers,” she said.
“Oh, don’t start with that nonsense--just trying to be a good neighbor is all. With your family so far away, I figured I could step in and help. And you’re welcome to stay here as long as you need to. Truth be told, I‘ve often thought this big old house should have more than one old lady rattling around inside.”
Laughing, Lori accepted the kind offer and knew a part of God’s plan was unfolding as she spoke.
-------- Dear Lord, thank you for all I have. As I begin a new day, help me to recognize where you are working in my life. Help me trust in you completely for all my needs. Amen
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Charla, you name was a new one to me, and I wanted to read your work as well. We watched my niece and her husband endure this same scenario a couple of years ago. A tragedy of this type always opens the door to God's goodness and a purpose bigger than we could ever orchestrate. Great writing and a wonderful message. God Bless. Nancy