A devotional by Kelly Leake
“Dillon said to tell you he killed your cat and buried it down by the barn.”
The scrawny boy before me anxiously shifted his weight as he stared at his feet. In an instant, I recognized the message for what it was, not a truth, but a cruel strike aimed by an angry sixteen year old not bold enough to face me. He would have been pleased to know how deeply those words cut.
My husband and I had been working with children living in children’s homes for over a year and had recently moved to Arkansas to become “parents” to eight, teen-aged boys, victims of abuse and neglect. They were a hardened, rebellious group, driving away others who had attempted to bring order to their chaos.
“We got rid of the last two sets of houseparents; we’ll get rid of you,” was our greeting when we arrived. Still, we rolled up our sleeves and determined to make a difference. From dawn rising to bedtime, each day was an overwhelming battle. More than once, I questioned being there.
Then life struck from behind. I had long carried in my heart the image of a son named David. He had red hair to match my childhood locks and his father’s crazy sense of humor. Year after year, I planned for his happy arrival, but he never came. Now thirty-five, the light was dawning that David wasn’t coming. Not ever.
The timing was all wrong, my strength wholly invested in making a home for an ungrateful crowd. I buried my dying dream and pushed on.
Then my cat disappeared. An affectionate, little thing, she was a soothing element in my chaotic life. Fruitlessly, we searched. She was nowhere to be found.
This newest hurt served as a catapult to fling to the surface everything I had stuffed down. I fell to pieces as depression consumed me. Daily, I recounted to God my sacrifices and my suffering. Surely He should intervene, straighten out these heathen boys, return my cat, give me my son.
One Saturday afternoon, my husband fishing with some of the boys, I again gave God an angry earful. “You won’t give me my own children. No. You give me everyone else’s broken children. Look at them! No hugs, no “I love yous”…I don’t even get pictures to hang on my refrigerator door!”
The words had barely escaped my lips when a voice called through the open door separating our personal, living space from the boys’ part of the house.
I peered out. One of the boys had stayed back from fishing. Shyly, he offered me a piece of paper.
“I made you a picture to hang on your refrigerator.”
Ouch. Somehow, I accepted the gift and returned numbly to my seat. As I sat silently weeping, God began to speak to my battered heart.
“For I know the plans that I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
It wasn’t what I was looking for, not what I wanted to hear. What about my plans? But it was the truth that I needed to hear to bring my life into focus.
I remember once reading Corrie ten Boom’s description of how so often we write out our plans for our lives and hand the page to God, expecting Him to sign His approval on the dotted line. But all the while, He desires us to sign a blank page and hand the pen to Him to fill in the rest.
Beginning that afternoon in Arkansas, I took the first steps to clear my page, making room for God to write His thoughts for my life. In the process, I learned that He dreams so much bigger for us than we can ever dream for ourselves. On my empty page, He has written some beautiful things mingled with some difficult things, together equaling an amazing journey. The boys who caused so much pain eventually gave in to our ways, leading to one of the most fulfilling times in my life. Other wounded children have followed, bringing hugs and “I love yous”, and quite a few art pieces to grace my refrigerator as God has used my husband and me as instruments of healing in their lives.
God is for us. His plans, though sometimes difficult to understand, are not only for our good but the good of others. Trust Him. Trust His unfailing love. Sign the blank page and give Him the pen. You’ll be astonished to see what He writes!