One of the biggest reasons this blog was started was to write down those many stories of how God has provided or shown Himself in my life & our family over the years for the next generation. I call it the “Pot of Omar”, as in the pot of manna that was put into the Ark of the Covenant to remind the children of Israel how God miraculously provided & showed Himself faithful to them the 40 years they were in the wilderness, lest the next generation forget. God has shown Himself so real to me over the years, I am obliged to write it down so my children & nieces & nephews will know. They will have their own stories to add in time, but until then, may they be anchored in the steadfast love of God, & His undeniable presence because they’ve heard firsthand how He has worked in their own flesh and blood’s lives.
The story I meant to write down over Christmas but never got the time to, I will entitle “Teen Angel”. It was Christmas Eve of 1983 I believe. That was a tough year for our family, but I will always thank God for it for several reasons. On the other end of it all, I had a greater appreciation for everyday luxuries that still effect me today. I was shown a great example in my parents of how to forgive & move on, trusting God to handle the ones who caused hurt, and more than that, even seeing God’s Hand in even those bad situations!
I saw my father go through a horrible experience in the church with his faith in his Lord strengthened, when a weaker man would’ve been crushed. He was not that old in his Christian walk himself, having gone straight into the ministry after conversion about ten years earlier. Our church in M_____, Ohio was only his third church to minister in. He was not raised in the church, so what he went through could’ve easily sent him packing from church as a whole for good. But Dad was drawn more to the heart of God & thus continued to love the Body through it all! This instilled in me a deep love for Christ’s Body, Bride, the church. I know many a pastor’s family could tell tales of the terrible things that happened in their church. It’s not unusual. Non-pastoral families have no idea of the backlash the pit of hell throws at the pastor at times. Carnal people (& they are in every church – wheat & tares growing up together) can be the nastiest & most miserable people you’ll ever meet – under conviction, but in denial of their guilt. I saw my mom & dad give their life for the church & this particular year, unbelievable lies were thrown around & Dad was the one who got the brunt of it, with not a word of protection, encouragement, etc. from higher ups. Then he was literally thrown out on his ear & left without a job with four children to care for. It really is incredible when I think on the whole situation. But God taught me a whole lot through that experience, even though I was but a tender eighth grader.
Our family went without a lot that year – phone gone (Dad signed up to substitute teach, so he’d walk down to the corner phone booth at 5am every morning to call in & see where to teach that day). Hot water off for six months – that will get you up in the mornings, let me tell you! But we saved a bunch on water bills – short showers. There were nights we had oatmeal for dinner. Mom pulled out the nasty stewed raisins from Grandpa Bob’s castoffs one night – I vividly remember that one! We would pray before starting the car up each time, thanking God when it did because it was such a miracle – we had some humdingers in the car department over the years. (Another post for another time.) But you know what I saw first hand in all that? My Dad never got bitter! He clung to God & God was faithful. I saw God give us everything we needed daily. We never went without a meal. NEVER! I never remember Dad sitting around feeling sorry for himself. I’m sure he must have at times, but my memory is of him always looking forward; never stopping. He did that until literally the day God took him home – served His Lord & didn’t stop to worry or mope.
Anyway, that gives you some background for the story. You have to understand the year we were in to get the whole scope of this story. That Christmas, we all decided we didn’t need to give each other presents – didn’t have the money. I was fine with that. You’d have to ask my brothers how they were about it, but I’m sure Mom & Dad were pretty low. As a parent, about the biggest joy I get at Christmas is finding a little something to give them that’s special. To not get to do that would really bum me out! To lift the spirits, we pulled out Monopoly & Risk to settled down for a night of family competition & fun together.
Sometime that evening, the door bell rang. I went to answer it & a kid (young teenager) was at the door I’d never met. I remember his stocking cap best. It was pulled down close to his eyes. He asked if “Pastor B____” was there. You always knew when it was someone who didn’t know Dad, because Dad preferred to be called “Pastor Don”. Now, we were used to people coming to us for food or money because our name started with a B, so we were close to the top of the clergy list in the phone book. Dad often took bags of groceries to needy families late at night. I remember Mom fixing egg sandwiches as one needy family joined us for dinner. (I think that particular family was hoping for money to get steak maybe? The kids snubbed their noses at our eggs! I got a kick out of that one.) But this kid wanted to give Dad something. So I went to get him & thought nothing else of it. Dad held an envelope as he came back to join us. In it was a substantial amount of cash with a note that simply said, “from God”. I remember clearly going straight to the window to see if I could tell where he went or where he came from – a car? bike? There was snow on the ground that evening, so I looked for tracks to follow which direction he came from at least. There were no tracks in the snow.
As long as I live, no one will be able to convince me that boy was anything less than an angel in disguise come to bring encouragement to a hurting pastor & his family. I will never forget how God provided that Christmas through a young boy, a note, & an envelope. Later, about a week after Christmas, a relative cleaned out their toy box & dropped off two or three stuffed bags full of more toys than we’d ever had in three Christmases combined! We had an awesome Christmas of toys that year, a week later.
Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
or their children begging for bread.