“Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has done.”
During the hard moments of life, we’re often tempted to ask, “Where was God when I needed Him most?” All we need to do is to look around us and see all the many small ways that God walked the journey with us, softening the blows, extinguishing the brush fires that would cause us greater harm, protecting us from far worse disaster, and wrapping His arms around us so we have courage to face the hard moments.
If we didn’t go through those hard times, we wouldn’t have the chance to realize how much He is there, walking the journey with us, taking care of us and protecting us. That’s what happened to my friends, Bev and Duke.
Every year, Duke and Bev spend several days delivering sides and quarters of beef to their handful of customers from the dozen or so cows they butcher each year. The day before they were to start on their deliveries this year, Bev called me to say they would be by our house to deliver our quarter late afternoon after delivering to two other families east of town.
When my doorbell rang early afternoon, setting off my Welsh Corgi’s happy, alert greeting, I thought my beef had arrived early. Instead, a man I did not know stood on my doorstep. He introduced himself as a volunteer fire fighter. I found myself sniffing. Had he seen smoke coming out of my house? I didn’t smell anything.
His next question explained his presence. “Do you have Bev and Duke’s cell phone number? Their wood burner is on fire, they aren’t home, and no one knows where they are.”
Now these two people are good enough friends that I do have Bev’s phone number. But most of the time, I don’t know where they are on a daily basis. Of all days, I did know that day. His call to them didn’t bring an answer but I knew why – they were delivering beef to another customer who lived outside of cell phone range. I assured the fireman I would text Bev and keep trying to reach her.
Wondering why the fireman had chosen to stop at our house, I sent Bev a text. Within five minutes, my cell phone rang. I told a distraught Bev what had happened, and assured her that the fireman were at the house and everything was going to be ok.
Later, as scheduled, Duke and Bev arrived at our home and we heard the rest of the story, The fireman’s visit was only one small part of the string of miracles God brought about that day. A trail of breadcrumbs revealed His presence in the midst of that fire.
A neighbor lady, driving home from town, saw the fire. She was running late and drove home a side road instead of the road she normally takes. The firemen were prompt to her call. One firefighter got it into his head to stop by my house. He had no idea I was one of the few people who knew where they were that day and how to get in touch with them. Duke and Bev,only a few miles away, were able to finish the beef delivery and get back home in just a few minutes.
When Duke and Bev reached our house with our quarter beef, they listed all the “what ifs” that could have made this crisis so much worse. If Mary had been on time, if she hadn’t driven down the side road, if the corn had not yet been harvested, she would have never seen the fire. If the wind which was blowing stiffly from the northwest had been blowing any other direction, Duke and Bev could have lost their home. In spite of a haze of smoke in their utility room, they could not even smell smoke in the rest of the house.
“Didn’t you have to wash all your clothes?” I asked Bev later.
She shook her head. “Not a one. There was no residual smell of smoke in our home at all.”
The couple didn’t look like two people who had gone through a crisis. Instead, they exuded confidence and gratitude for how God had protected them. “It was like we needed this fire to remind us just how much God is watching over us,” Duke told me.
Duke’s comment reminded me of the time my 18 month old daughter reached up and grabbed the coffee carafe from the kitchen counter and threw it across the room. I had laundry strewn over the kitchen floor, and I and my two babies were all barefoot. Since I have poor vision, I locked the girls in a bedroom and called a neighbor to clean up the glass for me.
As she shook out the piles of clothes and swept up the glass, Vella shook her head in wonder. “I don’t understand. None of the glass landed in any of your piles of clothes. It all landed in this little section on the bare floor.”
Each night, before I put my girls to bed, aware of how my poor vision kept me from seeing potential dangers that could harm my children, I would pray, “Lord protect my girls in ways I cannot.” It’s a prayer every parent should pray but my limitation illuminated my need. When my baby broke the coffee carafe and glass landed just in one little pile, I realized that God was letting me know, “See? I am taking care of you.”
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze.” – Isaiah 43:2.
I love what Bev wrote on Facebook after telling the story: “God is SO GOOD. ALL THE TIME! He sends help in so many ways and uses so many people to take care of us. Praising Him! Thanking Him!”
God’s trail of blessings made many of us in our small town realize how much He really does work all things together for good to those who love him (Romans 8:28).