Eight year old Marcie never realized that being an only child and that could be lonely at times. Her parents did, though. Until they moved, she and her older cousins shared birthdays, egg hunts, picnics, and activities with Grandma and each other. From birth, they had lived a bicycle ride away from each other. Now that the twin boys had moved across the state, Marcie saw them just a few times a year.
Once school was out, Marcie’s dad announced, “I’m taking you to spend two weeks with your cousins Rick and Ron up north. We know you miss them. We’ll drop you off there. You can learn all kinds of things and get to know your cousins better.”
“Oh, goodie!” she exclaimed, and she reached for her pink duffle. She packed her special dolls in the bag first thing. She also made sure she added some lacy leggings and pink high-top tennies for events requiring fashion.
But the older twin cousins, neither of which were into fashion and lace, were not quite as enthusiastic learning about the baby of the brood of cousins spending that much time with them.
“She’s a sissy,” remarked Rick to his mom. “We’ve already got plans.” Rick and Ron rattled off their adventuresome agenda for the first few weeks of summer. None included tea parties with dolls nor a hot pink, high-topped tennies fashion show.
“Okay,” Mom agreed. “But be nice to her anyway. Let her join in whenever she can.”
Marcie arrived with a squeal as soon as she stepped out of the car. The girl squeezed the twins in a group hug. Not being able to tell the identical boys by name, Marcie just called out, “Oh, twins! I have missed you since you moved!”
After lunch, Marcie wanted to play dolls. Rick and Rob wanted to build their tree house. The tree house won out. The teens worked on the structure for hours. Marcie played at ground level with her dolls.
“Can I help?” Marcie wanted to know.
“Can you use a hammer?”
“But I want to put my doll, Sonny, in there. He’ll love it!”
“No dolls in the tree house.“
“Can you lift me up there? I’ll leave Sonny here on this blanket.”
“Nope. You have to climb the boards like everyone else. Or you can heft yourself up by this rope.”
“I don’t know how. “
“You have to try. Board ladder,” Rick pointed. “That’s the deal. It’s a great view up here!”
“But I don’t know how,” she cried and ran inside. With tears running down her face, Marnie grabbed her dolls while the pounding and sawing went on and on.
Marcie called out, “Aunt Jan! Aunt Jan! The boys are being mean to me!”
Aunt Jan wiped Marcie’s tears and put her to work in the kitchen making cookies. As Marcie sobbed out the story, Aunt Jan commented, “Why, Marcie! They’re just treating you just like a sister!”
Her jaw dropped in astonishment. “They are?”
“Yes! That means they care about you. And you have to try if you want to get to the tree house. Nobody is going to lift you up, but we can teach you how.”
After cooling the cookies from the oven, Aunt Jan and Marcie prepared a plate for her twin cousins.
“See twins! I can make good cookies!” Each climbed down and to taste test the treats. Marcie passed muster.
“I’m ready to try to climb the ladder. You’ll help if I need it, right?”
“Right!” the cousins agreed.
And Marcie climbed the boards nailed to the tree trunk, grabbing the branches on the way up until she sat on the platform. All gave her a standing ovation. Marcie beamed, “Easy breezy!”
Marcie had insisted earlier, “The boys are being mean to me!” How often do we feel “God is being mean to me”? Just as with Marcie, God picks experiences to push us to grow and trust him facing the unknown. When challenges come up above our skill and ability level, it’s easy to summarize with “I don’t know how!”
But the unknown is just where God wants us—to have the courage to step up to the challenge and master new situations he gives us. What looks to be the answer for us may be entirely different from God’s view. For those things we can’t do in our own power, we can with God’s help.
Imagine the captive Israelites’ astonishment they were protected and prospered while the plagues of Egypt hit Pharaoh and the Egyptians hard. By the time the Pharaoh’s first born son died from the last plague, Moses got the message that Pharaoh now said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.” [Exodus 12:31-32]
And as the hundreds of thousands of freed slaves walked away, taking Egypt’s wealth with them, they faced the unknown ahead. It wasn’t about where they were going–it was about who they were following to get there.
What is ahead may be more difficult than climbing a board ladder to the tree house when you don’t know how, but God leads us as he has all those who believe and trust in him. With his help, it’s easy breezy!
[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]