With pen poised over a blank page, Charli, short for Charlotte, thought back to the morning and the news of fresh trouble.
Even before she had laid the phone down, as she’d fought off panic and fear, she remembered the words of their pastor, “If it’s comfort in the Lord you’re needing, talk to someone He’s comforted”. Charli had thought of her grandmother.
Ethel Hoover had walked through more trouble in her life than a hockey team on a ten-year losing streak. Inspite of it all, her faith was strong, she always wore a smile and gratitude seeped from her pores.
In need of comfort, Charli had gone to see her.
“Charli, what a lovely surprise.”
“Sorry, Gram, I should’ve called first.”
“Nonsense, darlin’, long as you don’t mind the housecoat and hair. You know I love to see you.” Ethel tucked a few wild strands of grey under her hairnet, then disappeared to the kitchen.
“How’s Max and the kids?” she called, while filling the kettle.
That’s why I’m here. Not because of Max, everything’s great there. It’s…”
In the next moment, Ethel had been at her side, giving her an embrace she’d found comfort in as far back as she could remember. Though taller by inches, Charli had collapsed in the arms wrapped around her and released emotions held back since receiving the “call”.
Then, with Kleenex in hand, she’d sat at the kitchen table.
“How’d you manage through all the years of trouble, Gram? How’d you keep strong, believing God was working it all out, when circumstances shouted otherwise?”
Ethel had been slow in responding.
“I remember giving myself a talking-to. “Ethel Hoover, you’ve gotta believe that what God did for you yesterday, He’s gonna do again today, and even tomorrow.” So I decided to make a list of all the times God rescued and delivered me through trouble and then I rehearsed them.”
“Played them over in my mind. Went to sleep thinking about them, focused on them when I woke up, remembered them through the day. Rehearsed them.”
“Wow, good idea, move God to the center; problems to the peripheral.”
Her grandmother had nodded emphatically.
“Darlin’ no matter how dismal the circumstances appear, there is always hope. Think of all the times God has come through for you, big and small. Once you’ve written them down, read them out loud until there’s no question as to who’ll take care of today’s troubles. You’ll be kicking Fear and Worry out, so Faith and Hope have room to stretch and grow.”
“Before you read your list, though, you gotta make sure you’re dressed.”
Charli must have looked confused.
“Your clothes for battle, darlin’; the armor God’s given you.”
“Right. Another good idea.” Charli understood the need for protection.
Ethel had stood then, chair scraping ceramic tiles in the process.
Charli giggled as she reflected back on the picture of her spry, eighty-five-year-old, five-foot-nothing grandmother. Standing, feet apart and knees bent for balance, in housecoat and hairnet, her right arm on her hip, as if hovering over the sword of the Spirit, she’d extended her left arm straight out with hand poised, holding an invisible shield of faith.
“When you grab your shield of faith and hold it out like this, what do you see, Charlotte?”
“Exactly. Now use your imagination and write your list on the inside of your shield.”
“You see, the enemy wants you discouraged, thinking there’s no hope for your situation. He’s gonna send a lie, like an arrow, to pierce your heart. As soon as you recognize it, lift your shield.” Ethel had demonstrated with such aggressive, solid defense, she looked every bit the mighty warrior.
“As the arrow hits your shield, start readin’ what you wrote. Declare it like a battle cry. Dismantle the lie with the reality of God’s work in your life.”
Then Ethel had broken the stance and lowered her voice, as if to make her point more effectively. “Don’t think for a minute, Charli, that your Heavenly Father doesn’t have the power to work out the best for your family. Nothing is wasted in His hands and His timing.”
“Now finish your tea, go home and start your writin’.”
That had been an hour ago.
Lord, remind me of what you’ve done so I’ll have faith and hope for what you’re going to do.
Putting pen to paper, Charli could hardly keep up.
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