“Let those who fear the Lord say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’ Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.” (Psalm 118:4-6)
Walking home from school with me, our 8-year-old grandson was inconsolable as he unloaded his catastrophic predicament. Liam had not turned in his assignment due that first day back from spring break and was now on the brink of receiving an “F” from his teacher.
“Liam, why don’t you take a big breath, and then explain to me what happened,” I said. “Let’s figure this out together.”
“Flat Stanley” was a crayon-colored paper cutout of a literary character he unfortunately left behind in his desk through spring break. His teacher had asked each student to carry “Flat Stanley” around during the week to take photographs with him in different settings. Each day that first week back, the students would write a creative description of one of their posed shots in their composition book. Liam had showed up to school without his photographs and now he was convinced his life was doomed!
I listened, talked him off the ledge, got out a few different t-shirts, and walked around the neighborhood snapping pictures of my grandson in a variety of outfits holding “Flat Stanley” in various locations – standing inside an elevator, slouched by the pool, propped on a bike. After uploading the images to the neighborhood drugstore app, we hopped in the car, purchased the prints, and carefully tucked the photos inside a padded envelope in his backpack. The whole endeavor took a little over an hour.
Later that afternoon I asked Liam if the crying and complaining had helped to fix anything. He agreed it hadn’t. “Why do you suppose I listened, and took the time to help you?” I prodded.
He hesitated, and then said, “Because you love and care about me.”
“That’s exactly right, Liam. I love you so much, and when you are sad and need help I will always do everything I can to help you. Don’t ever forget that, ok?”
“What about when you have a big problem? What about when you grow up, and your troubles seem really huge? I want you to remember that you can tell Jesus about them. You can share with him all the ways you are hurting. And you can always ask him to help you. And you know what? He will. He has everything you will ever need to handle anything that comes your way. I’m going to pray that you always remember that. Do you think that’s a good idea?”
Liam nodded. My own heart got the point.
I too was posed in photo frames, my own troubles captured. Every word I addressed to Liam, was actually pointed at me. My loving Father had heard my complaints, understood my challenges, and wanted me to trust that he was perfectly positioned to provide the solutions. Right there in the middle of an ordinary task with a beloved grandson, the Lord illustrated in picture-perfect living color that I simply never face any assignment alone.
And my friend, neither do you!
Elizabeth A Mitchell