Our plans are actually God’s plans, and he guides events to purify and strengthen our faith.
My biggest aspiration in life lately is to “have the faith of a child.” It sounds so comforting . . . to believe and know, without question, that you are loved, cared for, and saved.
The child whose faith I strive to emulate isn’t so young—she’s almost 34 years old, as a matter of fact. She’s my daughter. At the most needed and opportune times, she speaks words of comfort and wisdom that amaze and astound me.
I was raised Catholic—strict Catholic, strict Baltimore Catholic! I went to parochial grade and high school, taught CCD classes, was a reader at Mass. I went to confession and communion regularly like any good Catholic would. I couldn’t imagine anything else.
Then I met my would-be husband, who was not Catholic, but Lutheran! (Insert gasp here if you are Catholic!) He was divorced. I remember finding out we could not get married in the Catholic Church unless we were willing to go through months of waiting for annulment proceedings. I informed my mother that I wasn’t willing to do this. I can still hear her plea for me to get married at the courthouse instead of a Lutheran church. She hoped we would reconsider (a.k.a. come to our senses!) eventually and be able to have our union blessed in the Catholic Church.
We did marry at the courthouse, and a few years later I became pregnant with our daughter. Funny how carrying a child encourages you to reevaluate a faith you thought you could put on hold indefinitely. Baptism and a church home were non-negotiable for both of us, so we joined a Lutheran church. Mom had given up on her hope of us “coming around.” I think she had softened a bit and wanted her first grandchild to become a baptized child of God. She even said—albeit grudgingly—that it could occur in the Lutheran church.
We had a comfortable church life, though not particularly regular or too involved. We met some new friends through boating, which was a big part of our social life at that time. Our daughter was almost ready for school, and we were struggling with where to send her. Our friends invited us to their WELS church, which had a school. It seemed like a fine church, but the deciding factor for us joining was that they had a bus that picked students up—a real perk as we both worked full time! So we joined the WELS church, signed her up for school, and were all set.
Then, a couple weeks before the first day of kindergarten, we were notified that the bus needed repairs. The church could not justify the expense and canceled the bussing. Since we had so little time before school started, we decided we would figure out transportation for that year and reevaluate as we went along.
Looking back it amazes me that I don’t ever remember feeling the hand of God in my life then. Now I can’t help but shake my head at the timing of numerous events. A new friend, a conversation, a carpool, the daughters of the principal that became babysitters and a second family to our little girl. Then I thought it was just luck; now I see it is crazy to think of something as precious as life happenings as “luck.”
One year at school turned to three, five, then confirmation and eighth-grade graduation. The nice people we met at church and school became friends, and then I learned what a church “family” really meant. I was comfortable in a way and depth I never knew growing up in the Catholic Church. We had never been encouraged to read the Bible. It needed to be taught lest we “misinterpret” what God wanted us to learn.
I remember being in a Bible class once. I rarely spoke because I felt ignorant compared to everyone else, most of whom were lifelong Lutherans. But this particular class I did speak . . . we were talking about differences in religions. I shared that I had been raised Catholic and that I was so appreciative of the WELS faith and the “black and whiteness” of it. For any question or concern I may have there was a concrete biblical answer, not a “maybe” or gray one. It gave me comfort to know it never changed like so many aspects of the Catholic faith I’d known had changed. After class, a pastor from our congregation came up to me and thanked me for my comment and the beauty and simplicity of describing my faith. It meant a lot to me that day and still does.
I digress . . . our daughter grew up. She was outgoing, a trusted friend to many, and an unbelievably talented musician. I never have figured out where the genes came from for that. I guess the Lord just wanted to bless us with the joy of listening to her play her favorite hymns for hour upon hour on the piano, flute, and finally organ.
Oh, I think I forgot to mention she ended up going to a WELS high school. We weren’t sure how we would swing it financially—it wouldn’t be easy—but we had also been seeing that we always seemed to have enough, somehow. Eventually, our daughter became a teacher . . . yes, a WELS teacher! She had a special love of little ones, and when I visited her classroom I often heard her effortlessly talk to them of Jesus’ love for them. She shared with me incidents with parents that troubled her and conversations she had with them, always pointing them back to our Lord. She took her call very seriously. Some of her happiest times were calling her pastor to ask him to visit one of her unchurched families!
She has faced some pretty trying times for someone her age, and my heart ached for her during those rough patches as any mother does for a child. But she had faith in the Lord. When I was wondering where God was for her, she would share that she knew Jesus stood at her side! I became stronger though her witness.
She is married now with two beautiful boys. I love to hear my oldest grandson tell me some of the Bible stories he is learning. My heart could burst because I am so happy to see him growing in the faith his mother knows so well.
Today when I look back on my life I am awestruck at the many ways God has always cared for me. I used to think I was the ultimate planner—that if I planned enough I would be able to handle whatever came my way. I see now that the plans were never mine to make, but his: “For I know the plans I have for you” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Yes, God has taken care of me. The child he planned for and allowed me to bring into this world has become my path to grow in my faith—the faith of a child.
Barb Scott is a member at Redeemer, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
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Author: Barb Scott
Volume 103, Number 5
Issue: May 2016
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