You just never know.
Years ago, I went to a women’s retreat in Lexington with a couple of ladies from my church. There was a main speaker and then women who spoke at individual sessions.
I went to one session where the speaker showed a clip from the film, “Dreamer.”
If you’ve never seen it, “Dreamer” is about a race horse that falls on a track and is seriously injured. A little girl and her dad nurse the horse back to health and make it a winner.
The film clip this woman showed wasn’t one of a race-winning horse with a bunch of flowers around its neck.
It was a scene at the start of the movie, where the horse was barreling down the track.
All of a sudden, the horse flipped and fell.
“That was my life,” the woman said.
Like that horse, the woman was making her way down the race track of life.
Everything seemed to be going just fine. Her husband had a good job. She was a stay-at-home mom with three little boys.
Life seemed pretty good.
Then her husband left her.
Frantically, the woman called one of her friends.
What was she going to do?
Her friend had a question.
“What’s the next thing you’ve got to do?” she asked.
The frightened young mom thought for a moment.
She had to give her children their baths.
“Do that,” her friend said. “And then what’s the next thing you need to do?”
The mom had her get her boys into bed.
“Well, do that,” the friend said.
What the young mom learned was this: Sometimes when you’re in a crisis, you just do the next thing.
I remember thinking that was pretty good advice.
About three months later, I was at work when I got a call.
“There’s been a bad accident,” said a woman who’d stopped to help. “The truck’s pretty banged up. Your husband’s pretty banged up and he can’t move his legs.”
My husband, Chuck, was being taken by rescue squad to an Omaha hospital.
I called my oldest son, Mike. He had to go to work, but my daughter-in-law Rachel and then-2-year-old grandson Matt piled into my car and we headed to the hospital.
As it turned out, Chuck could move his legs, but didn’t have feeling in his feet.
We entered a whirlwind of activity.
At one point, I was walking down a hospital hallway. Thoughts buzzed around in my brain like a swarm of bees.
What was I going to do? I had to go to the Intensive Care Unit and talk to the doctor. I needed to talk to family in a waiting room. There were phone calls to make.
All of a sudden, I literally stopped in the middle of the corridor.
And this thought went through my head: “Sometimes, when you’re in a crisis, you just do the next thing.”
What did I have to do next?
Well, I had to go to the bathroom. So I went.
Then I went to the ICU and then to the waiting room and then I took care of whatever was needed next.
So many times I just did the next thing and I benefitted greatly from that advice.
But I wouldn’t have had that advice had I not gone to the women’s retreat.
My point is this: Don’t miss the opportunities God gives you to learn about him and his word and to fellowship with his people, because you never know what you could learn that will help you when you need it most.
Am I trying to scare you? No, I’m trying to prepare you.
We don’t need to fear tough times, because God has promised through his word that he’ll never leave nor forsake us. He loves and has good plans for us. He’s our comforter, strength, guide and ever-present help in trouble.
He’s ready to assist and direct us as we lean on him.
My husband later died, but throughout all those tough times and even today, God has proven faithful and has helped my family and me in many ways.
After Chuck died, I remember people telling me that I was strong.
And I had to admit I didn’t know what I would have done had it not been for all the years of great sermons and Bible studies at my church. I learned so much.
One of the best things I’ve learned is that the Bible applies to our everyday life.
Long before Chuck’s accident, I did a wonderful Bible study by Christian author and speaker Beth Moore called “A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place.”*
In the study, we’re reminded of a Bible story in Exodus chapter 16.
At this point, Moses has led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. They’re in the desert and they’re hungry.
So one morning, God sends bread, called manna, from heaven. Manna is white, looks like frost on the ground and tastes like wafers made with honey.
The Lord tells Moses to have the Israelites gather as much as they need, but nobody is supposed to keep any of it until morning.
Those who do discover that it stinks and has maggots in it the next day. The only exception is when the Israelites are told to gather twice as much the sixth day — because on the seventh day, they’re simply supposed to rest.
God provides manna for 40 years. The Israelites get enough just for each day — a continual reminder of their dependence on him.
With that story in mind, Beth provides a modern-day manna lesson.
She starts by telling how distraught she was when her friend’s 4-year-old child died of leukemia.
Beth, the mother of two daughters, cried out to God, telling him that she just couldn’t live if something like that happened to her.
That’s when God led her to the manna story.
“He was telling me that a sufficient amount of mercy and grace would be set aside for me every day of my life, enough every morning,” she writes.
In the DVD lesson, Beth talks about sobbing at the child’s funeral.
Then she noticed the grace that seemed to carry the child’s mother.
And God spoke to Beth’s heart: “My grace, Beth, is given according to need. The reason you look on another situation and think ‘I could never bear that if I were them,’ is because you don’t have that present portion of grace — because you don’t need it — and when you do, it will be there for you — as long as you gather it.”
Beth explained that while God provided the manna, the Israelites still had to leave their tents and collect it.
In the same way, God provides us the grace we need each day, but we can’t sit in our slump and do nothing. We must seek God.
Just as God provided the right amount of manna to the Israelites in the desert and grace to Beth’s friend, I believe he’s given me the strength – those very present portions of grace — right when I’ve needed them — every day since Chuck’s accident and death.
Has it been easy?
No. But has God been good? Definitely.
He’s the one who teaches us lessons through his word and fellow believers, supplies our needs and provides us with opportunities to learn things can help us right when we need them most.
* Used with permission Lifeway Christian Resources.