I could not wait to get home. The air was crisp, and the trees in town were starting to take on the autumn oranges and reds. I received a 100% on my science test, and the teacher didn’t give us any homework for tomorrow. I felt like I was on top of the world.
I was going to go on a short ride on my horse as soon as I got home. I didn’t want to miss the Rifleman on T.V., but the Montana prairie was too perfect to not saddle up my horse, Patch.
The kids on the bus were chatting, and just as my brothers and I stood up to get off, Kristi reminded me to ask my mother if we could have a sleepover tomorrow night.
We climbed into the old ’53 Chevy Station Wagon that waited at the end of the lane by the mailbox. Paul drove and John called “shotgun” and jumped into the passenger side front seat.
“I’ll saddle up Sioux if you want to go on a ride together,” Paul offered.
“You betcha!” I exclaimed. “Mrs. Dunlap read a poem about Goldenrods. I think I saw some growing in the coulee over by Grandpa’s old house. I want to see if I can find some to take to school!”
Just as we crested the last small hill and came around the corner leading to the farmhouse, Paul exclaimed, “Oh! No!”
It couldn’t have been any worse. There was Daddy and Grandpa in the garden digging up all the potatoes. As we pulled up to the house, Daddy yelled, “get changed out of your school clothes and come down and help us!”
The frost last night ended the growing season for the potatoes and left the garden soil very cold. Grandpa stepped the potato digging fork deep into the ground and pried out the potatoes from the cool earth.
All my plans were squashed. All the excitement and adventure that I planned seemed to be gone. Lemons! That’s what it seemed like.
A few years ago, I attended the funeral of a young, severely handicapped lady. She was our friend Tammy. Her parents were struck with grief. They had prayed through the years for a miracle, and they had discussions about who would care for her when they no longer could. Those concerns were now taken care of, but it was a small comfort in losing their sweet daughter that they loved so much.
At the funeral, the father read a story. Although I may not remember the details, he spoke about a man and woman who had booked a trip to Italy. They had studied the country and knew all the special places they planned to go. The architecture was especially interesting to them, but so were the water “streets” of Venice, and the many vineyards. They had planned their trip to make sure they would see everything. They didn’t want to miss a thing.
The plane unexpectedly landed in Holland. The stewardess approached them and told them this was their stop. They insisted they bought tickets to Italy, but when they looked again, the ticket said Holland, so they sadly got off the airplane as the other passengers looked at them with sadness.
After they left the airport alone, they looked around. They felt abandoned. They knew this was nothing like Italy, but it did have charm. The tulips were in full bloom, and the majestic wooden windmills were every bit as impressive as they had seen on postcards. They began to explore Holland, and truly began to enjoy this alternate location. They knew they missed out on their dreams of seeing Italy, but Holland wasn’t really a disappointment, it was just a different destination than what they expected.
He explained that when his wife was expecting, they had all the dreams and hopes for their childlike everyone else. Their friends all gave birth to happy, healthy, and normal children, but they gave birth to a severely handicapped baby. Although incredibly sad for their daughter, their love for her was instant. They wanted to protect her and give her the best life possible. They felt alone, but they had each other. It wasn’t Italy but Holland wasn’t any less magnificent. It wasn’t their goal. It was just different than what they had hoped for.
God is working to perfect His children. My childish diversion from my horseback ride to the potato patch was a teaching time in my life. The fun on the horse was changed to a game of filling my gunny sack faster than my brothers.
We develop our muscles. Physically we exercise. Emotionally we learn to deal with disappointments. Spiritually, we give it to God, and give Him praise and honor, because He is worthy – no matter what just happened.
Sometimes we can’t make sense of it. My brother-in-law was killed in a car accident leaving my sister with 2 boys, a 3-year-old and a 4-month-old. My brother’s baby died when he was just 7 days old of a bacterial infection that all babies are now checked for. My son’s wife’s younger brother died of cancer when he was in middle school. An accident happened just outside the house I was staying at last week, and a 21-year-old mother lost her life. Sometimes we just can’t make sense of it, but God is teaching us and assuring us that He is with us through it all.
Just know that God loves you and wants the best for you. God has a plan for you and will make it happen. And Know that your struggles have a purpose, and your pain has an end. (Jimmy Nimon)
2 Tim 4:18 “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom . . . “
Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . “
1 Thess 4: 13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.”
After I peeled the potatoes, I set the table. The potatoes boiled over and mom turned the burner to simmer as she prepared the rest of the meal.
“I’m glad you got home when you did!”
“It feels good to see the harvest of all those hours in the garden picking potato bugs and hoeing the weeds though, doesn’t it?” she asked.
“The harvest is ready but the laborers are few.” I quipped.
“God has a purpose. You just need to learn to trust Him,” she said. “And don’t forget that last verse. Think what it would have been like if you and your brothers wouldn’t have joined in the harvest. Life lessons transfer to heavenly messages.”