“The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?”
–Psalm 27:1 (NLT)
“Sarah’s directions to the dining hall were no help at all,” Ellie grumbled to herself with an oath, “and I missed dinner because of it!”
Ellie was finally settled in her new room, but she was still fuming about a myriad of things, so she couldn’t sleep. The nagging thoughts plaguing her mind and her grumbling stomach kept her awake. She tossed and turned for what seemed like hours on the lumpy mattress.
Ellie let her mind drift, and wondered where the week would take her. Aside from that, she felt stuck in her room.
“How will I find out where things are?” she mused.
Sitting up with a start, she told herself to stop thinking about anything for now. She had never been a complainer, and she refused to start now. What was that song Mom had always sang to her about counting your blessings? As if on cue, the little chorus echoed in her mind.
After meditating on the song and its message for some time, Ellie deliberately tried to turn her thoughts toward everything she had, instead of dwelling on what she didn’t possess. Nothing had worked out like she’d planned, but when she looked at things from this new perspective, Ellie was surprised by the outcome. She did have a roof over her head, and she couldn’t help feeling somewhat grateful as her thoughts shifted to all the people near and far who didn’t have a bed.
If she had to, she sighed, she supposed she could wait until tomorrow for a meal. She would put her mother’s God to the test, and see if He’d help her find one of the places Sarah told her about.
Armed with these thoughts she turned over, only to hear a voice close by, drifting on the breze. Then the squeal of a microphone caught her attention, and Ellie sat up. Unable to make out what the man was saying, she walked over to the window and opened it.
“Please don’t push!” he was shouting. “The food is free, and there’s enough here for everybody.”
Ellie gasped. A meal sounded too good to be true. If she manipulated the situation, she told herself, she could be one of the first in line.
As she started to turn, the worship music stopped her in her tracks. Thoughts of God’s mercies gently tugged at her heart. They seemed to come out of nowhere, blanketing her in a sense of peace she hadn’t felt in years.
Ellie’s thoughts turned to her mother again. Ellie vaguely remembered that her mom had instilled in her that God was faithful.
“Why, before we called out to Him on your behalf,” she had once told her daughter, “He answered us.”
“What do you mean?” Ellie wanted to know.
“Well, one day when you were a baby in the hospital, you stopped breathing. You were turning blue, and we were so worried. We didn’t know whether you’d live or not. But God blessed us that day, and you survived!
“The fact that you’re blind is a testimony to His strength in the face of human weakness. Don’t ever forget that we can do all things through Him.”
Ellie wanted to believe that now, but she couldn’t, even though faith in God might explain some things.
Turning it over further in her mind, Ellie tried to look at it from different angles. Was the God that had seemed so far away trying to tell her something now? If so, He seemed to be saying, “Ellie, while it’s true that you haven’t called upon me, I have answered you. Maybe the answer isn’t what you thought it would be, but my ways are not your ways, and I have only your best in mind.”
Pausing her reflections on God, Ellie tried to list the people who had given her a hand. She soon found that they were too numerous to count, so she focused on Brenda. If not for her, Ellie knew she would be stuck out in the cold right now.
This thought made Ellie begin to sob. She finally called out in earnest not caring if anyone outside heard her.
“Oh God,” she called, as tears flowed down her cheeks, “if it’s true that you have answered my prayers according to your will, I’ve been a fool not to follow you. I’m so ashamed, God! Because of my circumstances, I just assumed you weren’t there. But now the free food just doesn’t seem as important as making my way back to You.”
The same rich voice she had mentally heard earlier caught her attention. It rang out with a message in song, which had been special between Ellie and God when she was young. But to her surprise, she found that it spoke to her once more, conveying an even deeper meaning than it had during childhood. Letting the song guide her thoughts, the words transported her back in time.
Our God is an awesome God.
He reigns from heaven above
In wisdom, power and love.
Our God is an awesome God.
Lost in thought, Ellie allowed the music to carry her on its wings. She remembered the canyon by her parents’ home, which provided solitude during tough times. She recalled how she would sit for hours, thinking about the majesty of God. He was her friend then, and He loomed larger than the blindness which tried to stop her as a child.
In that light, she thought about her present obstacles, and they seemed insignificant. The song she had just heard brought pieces of the puzzle together which hadn’t fit for years, and the faith which she had long scorned began to warm her heart once again.
As her eyes began to open to forgotten truth, Ellie still couldn’t help feeling somewhat anxious about her current situation. She wondered if the kind of relationship she’d had with God as a child was still possible. Then God’s voice seemed to whisper to her heart once more.
“Remember the prodigal son? You can return to me in the same way, Ellie. Give me all of your burdens, and I will meet your needs.”
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Since things were starting to make sense to her, Ellie knew that this was much more than coincidence. She felll to her knees on the floor.
Once again, she cried out like a small child. “Oh God, please forgive me! I still have a lot of questions, but if you’re really there, I want to walk with You again. You said that You would lead the blind by a way they don’t know, and I’m blind in more ways than one. Help the unbelief I still struggle with, as You guide and protect me.
“They say this is a dangerous area, God, and I don’t have a clue about it, but you can see better than anyone, so please protect me now. I don’t know what You can do with someone like me, but I will trust You, and I will give my life back to You.”
Then, feeling like the weight of the world was lifted from her shoulders, Ellie got up and hurried to get ready. Grabbing her cane on the way out, she walked along slowly, feeling for the stairs.
Upon reaching the bottom, she found the lobby easily, but there was no one to guide her to the door. In a few minutes, however, Ellie heard it open, and she went in that direction.
Worship music still blared from the speakers, so she rounded the corner and walked slowly towards the sound. After going up an incline, her cane hit something, and she reached out and found a folding chair.
“Stop!” called a frantic man’s voice. “You’re walking towards the edge of the stage! Just sit down in that chair, and I’ll be right over.”
Huffing and puffing, the man ran up to her and started shouting over the music. “I thought you were going to fall. You almost gave me a heart attack. Do you want some food?”
“Yes, that would be wonderful!” Ellie shouted back. “Can you show me where the line is?”
“You’re not going anywhere,” the man said with a smile in his voice. “You’ve got a front-row seat right here. By the way,” he continued, “my name’s Will. I’m afraid we don’t have a big selection, but you’re welcome to what there is.”
“Thanks,” Ellie said, reaching out her hand to shake Will’s. Her arm hit something metallic, and it toppled over with a loud crash.
“Oh, I’m sorry!” Ellie started, but Will cut in.
“No worries! That’s just a music stand in front of a keyboard that nobody’s playing. I’ve already taken care of it.”
“Well then, as far as food is concerned,” Ellie smiled, “anything you have would be great.”
Will soon returned with a plate piled high. Ellie ate ravenously while her new friend sat on the steps of the stage. She asked between mouthfuls, “So what happened to your keyboard player?”
“Jim backed out of tonight’s outreach at the last minute,” Will sighed. “Some kind of family emergency.”
“Can I fill in?” Ellie asked. “I know all these songs.”
Will instantly stood up. “We’ve got it covered now, and I’ve got to preach. But wait here, and I’ll be back as I’m all done.”
Will was a dynamic speaker, and about thirty minutes later the service was over. Some people began to disperse, but others stayed for prayer. Will went up to Ellie and apoligized that he couldn’t reach her sooner.
Then he asked, “Do you have five minutes to talk? I’d like to see if I can help you.”
“I guess so,” Ellie replied, “but if it’s okay, I’d like to play for you guys while you’re cleaning up.”
“That sounds like a plan,” agreed Will, “and when we’re done, I’ll show you to the motel lobby.”
Ellie had only played one song when Will whistled and applauded. “You’re great! Where’d you learn to play like that?”
“Oh,” Ellie yawned slowly, “I’ve been playing since I was little, and I majored in music in college.”
“Wow!” was all Will could say.
After the rest of the people left, they walked back to the Sleep Inn. But when Will finally broke the silence he said, “I’ll be leaving soon, and I’ve got what I think could be a problem.”
“Yes, I’m listening,” Ellie yawned, “but what can I do about your problem?”
“Maybe everything. The church is about 15 minutes away, and I wondered if we could talk there again tomorrow.”
“Talk?” Ellie repeated haltingly. “Why don’t you just say what you have to say here? We’re talking right now.”
“No, you don’t understand. If I’m right about Jim, I have to share something with you in person.”
Ellie tried to probe further, but Will cut her off.
“Okay, maybe,” she finally replied dubiously, “but why can’t we meet in the lobby? I don’t have money for a cab.”
“No matter how this turns out, I’ll be glad to pick you up. The church is right on the way, and I won’t take no for an answer.”
“Well, it doesn’t look like I have much of a choice,” Ellie said with a frown.
“Not really,” Will replied. “So I’ll swing by about nine.”
To Be Continued …
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