From the time I was a young girl, I prayed. I knew without any doubt that this life was way too big for me.
I needed God.
I desperately needed Him. I learned to fold my hands and bow my head and talk as I would to a friend. But that was hard. I had no close friend with whom to even compare it. Frequent moves had me constantly longing for a friend. Always standing at the new classroom and dreading that moment when the door would open and I would need to find my desk and sit down.
No, not having friends was not easy.
But I had my books. From Heidi, and Anne of Green Gables, to Little Women and F.B. Meyer, Tozer and George Mueller and so many more. Shelves and shelves of books. Wherever we moved my books went. Even now I can remember each house where we lived and exactly where my book shelves were.
But remembering back I think I learned how to pray the most through need. One situation after another – my grandfather’s sudden illness, my brother’s being kicked in the head by a horse, my mother’s slow recovery from polio, and yes, praying that we’d raise enough money to buy the sugar maple farm in upstate New York.
I prayed and nothing every seemed to happen. No lightning in the sky. No miraculous healings. Instead my grandfather died. And I limped along wondering about this whole prayer thing.
As I grew I learned that God always hears us when we pray. But sometimes He says yes. And sometimes no. And more often than not He says wait. So I kept talking to Him and pouring out my simple prayer requests.
Somewhere in my teen years facing so many challenges and changes, I began to talk with the Lord. At set times and throughout the day I prayed and listened. In the strange silence I felt comforted and encouraged. I knew that although I was quiet and lonely, He was there.
I kept talking with Him – through long walks to school crunching those leaves beneath my shoes. I spoke to Him sitting by the peaceful Susquehanna River and pondered the strangeness of life. Life began to take on a calm settledness and I hated the thought of going off to college.
But that was what I was supposed to do – to get an education so that if the man I married suddenly dropped dead, I’d be able to support my family. Interested to think back and reflect on the reasoning. I never married until later in life. And he didn’t suddenly drop dead. But I did discover not only the marvelous career of teaching children that I loved but also the joy of praying.
There wasn’t a day that I began teaching that I didn’t pray. Pouring out my heart to God. Asking Him to be with me and give me wisdom to meet the needs of each student. Yes, day after day I prayed and experienced the fullness of knowing that I was doing exactly what the Lord wanted me to do with my life.
But there came a day when I knew it was time to change. Yes, deep within my heart I sensed there was something else the Lord wanted me to do. No, I did not hear an audible voice. But there was a subtle shift. Whereas before I had been settled in my profession, I suddenly felt the tinge of grief. I argued and resisted. Hadn’t I been more than happy for so many years?
Yes, I had but I kept sensing those words, “There is more.” Whatever that might be I had no idea. And it was three years before I began to know.
I didn’t quit my job. I didn’t rush around and share with others. No, I kept living one day at a time knowing that God would show me. I knew from His Word and my personal experience that He doesn’t play games with people. No, the One Who was my Friend throughout the years was faithful and true. All I needed to do was follow.
Trust grows slowly when we are with a trustworthy individual. My trust in the Lord grew similarly. He was always there through every big change and little change. Helping me cope with things that were bigger than I. Yes, He was there. He’s always been there.
After reading this dear lady I sense strongly that your life was ordained to be very changable which set you up for the intimacy and love for God you have today. All in God’s unique design for you as a trophy of grace where He would carry you in times of troubled waters. You have become the excellent encourager and coach you are today because you deeply understand pain and discouragement. He has given you His heart of compassion and your life as a trophy to touch those He designs in your path. Many lessons we don’t find just reading the Bible but experientially in how God orchestrates our life path for the purpose of fruitful living and giving. I know Sharon Beth Brani you will run your race continually well and it would have been worth all the challenges of the past. As you already know, your pain becomes your ministry. Encourager indeed you are. Stand tall sweet woman of God. A great big “well done” awaits you some day😀💐🌺🙏🙏🙌🙌❤️
Valerie, your words of encouragement touch me at those deep places that long ago have been surrendered to the Lord. But to think of the Lord graciously using the chaos to shape me as His servant honestly thrills me. That perspective is freeing in so many ways. Thanks for continuing to read and support the Master’s calling on my life. My prayers are also with you, dear friend.