It was just a homemade card

It was just a homemade card

A simple card reminds a couple in hard times always to fix their eyes on Jesus.

Glenn L. Schwanke

Dreary gray skies and a snow-rain mix pelting against the window did little to lift my already dampened spirits. Neither did the scenery: a cemetery. That’s the panoramic view I enjoyed every time I looked out the seventh-floor window of my wife’s room at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

We were there because my wife, Teresa, had undergone surgery to remove a massive cancerous tumor. The surgery itself went well, and the surgeon had informed us the normal recovery time was three to five days in the hospital. But it had already been six. My wife was getting mighty sick of ice chips. No liquids. No solid foods. To make matters worse, a tube had to be inserted down her nose and throat to remove stomach secretions that could poison her. That painful procedure, coupled with all the other tubes still connected to her, had prompted more than a few tears from her, and more than a few from me.

So we prayed together. And we asked, yet again, for others to pray. And the prayers came! From the pastors who visited us in the hospital; from members of my congregation in Houghton; from the congregation I had served in Fort Wayne; from called workers and laypeople in my circuit, conference, district, and beyond. In who-knows-how-many worship services and in who-knows-how-many personal devotions, there were prayers.

Greeting cards came too. Too many to count. Each one special. Each one with the promise, “We are praying for you.”

In the stack of cards came one card that was homemade. It had been folded to fit in the envelope. The cover boasted a simple outlined cross with a sun behind and the peace dove overlaid. Inside the card in handwritten letters was the verse, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). On the opposite inside panel were signatures, almost 30 of them. The card came from a number of the college students in the campus ministry I am blessed to serve.

The card prompted even more tears, but not tears of frustration or fear. Instead, they were tears of joy. Tears of knowing how Paul must have felt when by inspiration he wrote, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3-6).

There can be dreary days in ministry, days that pelt our heart and mind and dampen our spirits. Far too easily, we can focus on those days. On the sacrifices we make. On how much time and effort we pour into the work and how little seems to come back. All too often those days are clouded over, because our ancient foe has partnered with our sinful nature to tear our gaze away from the Son, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). And when we take our eyes off of Jesus, we also lose sight of the blessings that come from sharing his good news with others.

It’s just a homemade card. I doubt it will ever win an American Graphic Design Award. But it came to my wife and me just when we needed it. It helped lift our eyes back to Jesus. And this humble card reminded me of the privilege I have to serve as a campus pastor.

Glenn Schwanke, pastor at Peace, Houghton, Michigan, serves as campus pastor at Michigan Technological University.

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Author: Glenn L. Schwanke
Volume 102, Number 3
Issue: March 2015

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