Delia smiled at the thought of the books in her suitcase as she listened to the rhythmic clackety, clack of the train on the tracks. To read through four books was her goal this week, the first chance she and Cyril had for ages to take a holiday. Their large church kept them both busy, especially Cyril as head pastor with the main teaching load.
“Lord, deepen Cyril in you I pray. Ground him in your word so that he can communicate effectively; clear his mind so that he hears your thoughts. Thank you, Lord, for a husband who is so grounded in you.” Delia smiled as she watched her husband, absorbed in his book. He read widely and studied for each sermon, and she was confident her prayer was already answered.
Delia’s love was people, a delightful fit for a pastor’s wife, co-ordinating several women’s groups and being on-call for people at all hours. It was a busy life and she loved it, but often felt drained. However, she knew how to come to the Lord for strength and renewal. Lately there had been some very serious problems, so this retreat for some peace and quiet was most welcome.
Delia turned back to her book now. For her reading on the train she had chosen a biography of Ruth Graham. She was always encouraged by stories of such inspirational people. Billy Graham was so much in the news, but his wife, Ruth, was more in the background. She settled to read how Ruth upheld her husband with prayerful support.
When the train arrived at the little country town, they made their way to the cottage. With everything within easy walking distance, it had been an easy decision to leave the car at home and come by train.
“It is available to you free of charge,” Harry had said when offering them the place. “The only thing I would ask is that you preach your first Sunday, and then you will have the following week free. You can explore all the bush walks in the area, or whatever you want.”
They’d gladly agreed, so the following morning they made their way to the little stone church at the centre of town. The small congregation received them warmly, and at the end of the service were full of thanks to Cyril for his message. Delia met the women of the parish who were charmed with her warm smile and delightful manner.
“We’ve arranged for you to have lunch with the Smiths, and tea tonight with the Andersons,” Mrs Bennett told her and gave them directions to find the houses. Delia felt it would be ungrateful to refuse. They enjoyed their time with the two families and got back to the peace of their cottage late that night.
“Should we put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign?” laughed Delia when they put out the light.
“Shouldn’t be any need,” replied Cyril. “There’s no reason why people would disturb us.”
The first knock on the door came about nine am next day. Cyril and Delia had barely finished breakfast.
“Just brought you some baking,” said Mrs. Bennett cheerfully, sitting down as if expecting a cup of tea. Soon after she left a couple of hours later, another woman turned up.
“I heard you are a counsellor,” she said. “Can you help me with the problems I’m having in my family?”
Much as Delia would like to say NO, she knew she could not. While Cyril was able to retreat to his room, Delia talked with people all week. Even when they tried to go on bush walks, there was always a friendly face coming alongside, thinking they were doing them a favour by keeping them company.
“Lord you know I wanted a week of rest,” Delia prayed. “But these are your people and they are in need. Give me grace to help as best I can.”
At the end of the week when they boarded the train to go home, Delia got out her biography of Ruth Graham to continue reading and thought of the other four volumes still in her case.
“I need a holiday,” she said to her husband. “Where on earth can we go to be alone?”
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