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For months, I sat in the balcony of the church crying, sometimes sobbing, hoping no one would notice. The tears slowly washed the pain from my wounded soul, until one day I realized I had stopped crying. I moved from the balcony closer to the platform on the bottom floor.

One day, the pastor preached a message about finding God’s will and told a story about a man and a log that I never forgot. No matter how hard the man pushed and pulled the log he could not get it to the place he wanted. His friend saw him struggling and offered to help. The friend started the log rolling.

“It’s going the wrong way,” the man cried.

The friend running behind the log smiled and shoved the log. It stopped rolling in the place it needed to be. “It’s easier to move a rolling log,” he yelled.

Then the pastor encouraged us to do something. We might be going the wrong way, but it’s easier for God get us where we belong if we are in motion.

I took his message to heart and volunteered to help at the church. The Minister of Education sent me to assist in a fifth grade Sunday school class. Later he assigned me to my own class. Then the Children’s Pastor asked the Sunday school teachers to help in Children’s Church. The job was simple. Encourage unruly children to behave, and escort children to the bathroom.

The first time I saw Rod he was receiving the offering in the children’s service. While the young ushers brought the collection forward for prayer, he said, “If you don’t give your tithe, you are robbing God.”  

A child stood and waved furiously to get his attention. “Is it too late to put something in the offering?” The child had kept the offering his parents gave him, but decided he better not rob God.

Later that week, I was praying for direction when I stopped to read the story of Samuel and Saul’s first meeting that changed Saul’s life. His father had sent him to look for lost donkeys. Saul and his servant searched until their provisions for the trip were low. Saul wanted to go home. His servant suggested they ask the prophet Samuel for guidance.

Following the suggestion of a servant permanently changed Saul’s life. Samuel anointed him king of Israel. I found it intriguing that God uses the mundane everyday occurrences of life, like someone making a suggestion, to give us direction.

The following Sunday, a woman stopped me in the foyer of the church. I did not know the woman, but she knew a lot about me. She knew my name, that I taught Sunday school, and where I lived.

“The Sunday school department is having a picnic this Saturday. You should come,” she said. “I live close to you. You can ride with me.”

 I wasn’t sure how to respond to this stranger. But I remembered how God changed Saul’s life through a suggestion and thought God might have something for me at this picnic.

Sunday School attendance averaged six thousand. I expected a large crowd. One man flipped hamburgers on the grill. His wife was setting out paper plates and bags of chips. Including their children and the family who brought me, there was a grand total of ten present. If I had been in my own car, I would have left.

I sat at the picnic table watching tiny explosions caused by the dripping grease from the hamburgers as I thought of a thousand things I would rather be doing. The arrival of a tiny blue Honda distracted me from my depression.  A six-foot man unfolded himself from the Honda and walked toward the picnic.

I recognized the man who approached my picnic table from Children’s Church, and looked away, hoping he would not stop and talk to me. I was in no frame of mind for social interaction. I just wanted to go home.

“Hi, my name is Rod. Is this the church picnic?”

“Yes,” I replied.

Once he started talking, he did not stop until the family I came with rescued me.

I drove home chastising myself for being so stupid to believe God had something for me at that picnic.

Rod made a point of talking to me every time he saw me in church. I wasn’t interested in a romantic relationship, but my friends had abandoned me when I returned to my faith. I welcomed his friendship that slowly grew in affection.

Rod grew up in a stable home. He was shocked by the dysfunction in my family. I lived with my mother, who was in the process of divorcing my alcoholic father. My sister had recently been sentenced to jail. I was honest about my sordid past of drug abuse and losing my virginity at a young age. When he entertained thoughts of a committed relationship my past made him reluctant to pursue it. He had kept himself pure for twenty-nine years in anticipation of the day he would marry. I could not give him the same purity.

One day, he came to visit with a gift. He handed me a white rose and said, “God told me, ‘She is pure in my eyes. Why isn’t she pure in yours.’”  The white rose knocked down the wall I had built to protect my heart from abusive men.

Our dates were long walks. We talked about everything, including our expectations “if“ we ever got married. One day, we realized that we had stopped saying “if we got married.” If had turned into “when we get married.” That’s when Rod decided to pop the question. We married four months later.

God really did have something for me at the church picnic that changed my life.


One thought on “A WHITE ROSE

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